View Full Version : The European Hunting System

04-19-2012, 10:08 PM
The heated conversation in the Technology post got me thinking about how different things are than the North American model and I thought I'd post about each one of them individually. I'll start with underlining the different European hunting systems and how they work.

My whole life growing up in Wyoming and Montana that hunting in Europe was only for the rich. When I was a kid I used to check out several books on hunting all over the world at the library, two of them were rather exhaustive (though dated they were from the 1970s) on hunting in Europe.

Just as hunting laws, customs, and means very from state to state they are very different from Nation to Nation in Europe. And in the case of nations like Italy they can very dramatically from region to region of the nation.

In Europe you will find most of the hunting happens via one of the following prescibed systems:

1. Government land leases be they Local, Regional (provincial, state or county), or by the Town.

2. Private land leases, similar to the primary system in Texas.

3. Government land lottery hunts similar to BLM and Forest Service state land lotterys in the West.

4. The fourth is a common concept in some nations, and we would consider it poaching. Let's just leave it at that.

5. Private or Leased Government land Day shoots, also similar to what happens in Texas on privately owned ranches. A rate is applied to the day, and then a trophy fee for each animal.

I am not going to list every country in Europe, but I'll talk about the ones I have either lived in or have an intimate knowledge of through friendships with hunters in those nations.

Spain, France, Italy, Portugal are primarily set up with hunting very similar to Texas. Most of the hunting lands are private, and is leased by the land owner either to an outfitter, an individual for a season, or on day hunting for individual trophies. There is quite a bit of hunting for the average person for small game, falconry and coursing with sight hounds is a very important part of the hunting scene. There is some high seat hunting and stalking, but most hunting takes place through huge driven hunts with tons of beaters and dogs. Mountain game is reviered as much as anywhere else, and it is expensive and stalked, often horses are used. Big game hunting excepting for wild boar isn't cheap, but it's not so expensive as to be out of this world either. A lot of small game, and a bit of big game will be taken by poaching.

England, Scotland, Ireland, Wahles, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and several others hunting exist soley on a private land day shoot system. There is very little government land available for hunting. Newly common is the idea of a group of hunters leasing an area from a large farm for small game or deer, and then managing the wildlife on that property for their shoots. In NW Europe birds are expensive and deer are much cheaper.

Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Germany have both private leased hunting and governement leases. Private leases are fairly rare, and most of the hunting areas are not available at any price to local or travelling hunters. Some like the very famous Berleburg Castle are quite open to anyone who can afford the trophy fees. Most hunters are members of government owned leased areas. The leases will be ran by one individual on the lease, and the governement wildlife biologist will tell them how many of each animal they are to take. Not how many they can take. Often they are assesed a fine if they don't kill all the animals on their lease. As the property is leased by the government to 3 people, a farmer, a hunter, and a forester who cuts the timber. It is very common for a hunter to have to pay the farmer or forester a fine for wildlife damages. Roe deer and wildboar leases are commonly 1 or 2 squre miles and typically run around $800-2000 per year. As a square mile can hold 30-300 roe deer the number of animals required to be shot can be fairly large. One one place I hunted in Germany they were required to shoot 50 roe deer per year, and as many pigs as they could. Red stag leases are typically $5000 per year, and leases that have chamois or alpine ibex could be $17,000-8,000 per year. The 3 prices I talked about would be for a membership to a lease this would include a share of the trophies depending on how many members were in the lease of the animals to be hunted. On a typical roe deer lease, each member will take 5-8 deer, and as many pigs, fox, badgers, and martins as they want. They can also hunt hares and rabbits, and if the lease has grouse, they will get the assesed share of those animals too. If the leasor is unable to take all the animals off his lease, he will have to sponsor a driven shoot and try to cull as many as he can, this usually happens in the December. The Germanic hunting liscense is something very difficult to obtain. Most will work on it for a year or two before passing the written and oral exam. The minimum hunting age is 18, part of the reason for this is to ensure a complete soundness in judgement, as there is no such thing as a game warden. The hunters on the lease are the wildlife biologist, road kill picker upper, stand builders, game wardens and hunters all wrapped into one. Wildlife management is very strict in the German world, all animals are shot by age class unless they are injured. And quottas are issued by age class.

Sweden, Norway and Finland operate under two three systems. There is a small amount of private land wholly owned and leased to groups or for day leases. The majority of the lands are public and leased to groups similar to the German world. There also exist huge areas of lottery type hunts similar to our western system.

Iceland's hunting is completely the same as hunting in the Western USA. Reindeer licenses are alloted via a lottery, and the reindeer live on public land.

Eastern Europe is a combination of private and public leases, with a lot of those private lands being available to day hunters. Wildlife management is at it's epicenter in Eastern Europe, every animals age is known, and every animal will only be killed when it is at the right age, unless the animal is wounded. The average eastern European hunter will be part of a fairly inexpensive lease I have been told under $500 per year, and this will include a wide variety of game. Much more than your $500 would buy in out of state tags.

04-22-2012, 10:59 AM
Very interesting and informative

Old Hunter
04-22-2012, 11:06 AM
Which is why i'm glad I was born here.

Their gas prices suck too.

04-22-2012, 07:33 PM
All this has Don Peay/SFW/BGF salivating.

04-23-2012, 01:42 AM
Which is why i'm glad I was born here.

Their gas prices suck too.

It is kind of relative.

I am currently in the 4th continent I have lived on (thanks to the military, not bragging). Australia is by far the most expensive place I have ever been. Good and Services are very expensive, cars tend to be double what they cost in America, and a 3 bedroom 2 bath house in most of Australia is $350,000. Here in the capitol city (Canberra, 350,000 people) $500,000 plus. That and socialized medicine, a huge government per capita, and a very large influx of exports (in the way of natural materials: coal, iron, minerals exported to Asia) all makes it one of the most expensive countries to live in. My wife told me she heard on the radio, that anyone making less than $150,000 per year as a family is below the poverty line in Australia, can you imagine that?

$350,000 would buy a pretty nice house in most of Elk country in the United States, and usually include 5-50 acres depending on where you live. Then again a gallon of milk in Deer Lodge, Montana isn't $9 either.

Europe has some very expensive costs of living, and some really resonable housing, because most European jobs don't pay what they pay in Australia. Most Euros get paid similar to what the average person in America makes. Obviously Doctors are well paid everywhere. The guy that delivered my 7 month old daughter makes $500,000-800,000 a year depending on how many babies he catches a year. I would say that would be well above the average baby catcher in America.

If you are a guy that makes $25,000 a year and lives in Elk Country, drives a 1998 Ford pickup and shoots big six point every year out of your spot in the local national forest, you are probably right in thinking that your life would be different if you lived in on oe the Germanic nationas of Europe. I think it would, but only a little. For one you would get to shoot a lot more big game in a year than you do in 10 years in Montana or Wyoming. Mostly roe deer and wildboar, with driven hunts (that you'd get invited to) for red deer hinds (females) and the occasional invite for other game. All this on a revier (hunting area) that you would pay $800-2000 for a year.

I like hunting in Europe, there is a considerable ammount of respect for the game shown, that might be considered excessive to some but I like it.

Old Hunter
04-23-2012, 08:21 AM
You haven't convinced me. I still like it here. :)

04-23-2012, 03:11 PM
Personally I am kind of torn between 3 worlds.

I really like hunting in the Alps, and the hunting culture of the Germanic nations is something wonderful.

But, since I grew up in Wyoming and Montana and have been chasing elk since I was old enough to be able to fallow my father, it is very hard not to love the Northern Rockies.

Of course I was also an Alaska police officer, and spent a lot of time in the Actic in the villages. While the Arctic Villages are not for everyone, they have their charm. But what I really love about Alaska is the areas around Glennallen, Copper Center and Tok. Maybe not the best caribou hunting area in the state, but the sheep and goats are there, and good bears, good fishing, and it's on the road system.

I lived in East Africa as well as Namibia. I coudln't live in Africa forever, but if a guy had to go down there for a few years it would be ok.

I have friends that live near San Carlos Barliroche in Argentina, between the red deer, superb wildboars and skiing I think that place must be pretty close to heaven.

Australia and New Zealand are far too expensive. New Zealand, especially the south island is a wonderful place, but a guy has to make over $200,000 a year to make a living.

04-23-2012, 05:43 PM
Give me an elk tag in WY or NM a couple horses and I know I'm in heaven. Don't need much money and don't ever need to leave !! Nice write up.

Kevin Root
04-23-2012, 05:50 PM
Nice post Edelweiss. Very interesting in what other folks have in the way of hunting out there in the world. Sounds like you have been in more than a few locations so far.

Bitterroot Bulls
04-23-2012, 05:55 PM
I appreciate the post, Edelweiss.

I also appreciate the North American Model. I hope we never lose it.

04-23-2012, 06:50 PM
Very nice thread Edelweiss. This was a nice change of pace. Sounds like you made the most of your stays over seas.

04-23-2012, 09:01 PM
I appreciate the post, Edelweiss.

I also appreciate the North American Model. I hope we never lose it.

It is kind of a strange concept, but not every state follows the North American model.

I wish there were enough 6 point 380 bull elk, 60 inch moose, 850 pound grizzly bears, 92 inch pronghorn, 190 mule deer, and 500 pound black bears for everyone. Since there isn't and we are all competing for a finite number of tags for basic animals, to say nothing of super trophies, we have to play the game.

Then again we have poaching problems in North America that don't exist in Germanic Europe, especially when you consider the accepted norms of some states (I am not going to name states names, if you have lived there you know what I am talking about).

I'll do a similar post on Australia since it is where I am living in a few days. Poaching in Australia is an epidemic.

Bitterroot Bulls
04-23-2012, 09:13 PM
It is kind of a strange concept, but not every state follows the North American model.

I wish there were enough 6 point 380 bull elk, 60 inch moose, 850 pound grizzly bears, 92 inch pronghorn, 190 mule deer, and 500 pound black bears for everyone. Since there isn't and we are all competing for a finite number of tags for basic animals, to say nothing of super trophies, we have to play the game.

The only game I am interested in is the unfenced, wild animal, fair chase game. If I never book a trophy: So be it.

Jon Boy
04-23-2012, 09:23 PM
The only game I am interested in is the unfenced, wild animal, fair chase game. If I never book a trophy: So be it.

I agree, IMO the experience you will have in the states and canada is much greater than any where else. Ill take that over a book animal any day.

04-23-2012, 10:38 PM
That's not quite what I am saying.

I don't care if I ever shoot an animal in the record books. I took a gold medal steinbuck in Namibia in 2005 (jackrabbit with 5 inch spike horns). I could care less that it's big enough for Safari Club, and no I didn't register it.

We are all competing for a finite hunting resource, wether you are after big trophies or not.

As for fair chase, most of Europe is fair chase. I don't know the exact percentage, but I would think it is very close to America.

It is nice to to take a very large animal, and that is all I am saying. But there isn't enough of those dream trophies to go around, especially on public land. I would much rather take a very old animal than one that is prime.

As for experiences, the greatest hunting experiences of my life have been hunting with my father. All of this has happened in 3 states; Wyoming, New Mexico and Montana. And as my father get's older it is much harder to get him out of Wyoming.

I haven't taken a red deer, in Spain we couldn't get onto the stags as it was well after the rut. When I was in Germany I couldn't afford the trophy fee since I was hunting a guided operation. Though I took a wonderful old roe buck with a cataract in his eye. The experience of stalking that roe buck was wonderful, probably next to hunts with my father my single greatest hunting memory.