The European Hunting System
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.