HUNTING: The forester candidate shoted the first roebuck of his life
Bence Halmai was able to go on his first roe deer hunt in the border of Tatárszentgyörgy. He was accompanied on the hunt by his father’s good friend, professional hunter Gábor Balogh.
Bence Halmai is 19 years old and this year he applied for the technician qualification exam at the Alföldi Agricultural Vocational Training Center Ferenc Kiss Forestry Technical School in Szeged. He comes from a family of foresters and, after his father and grandfather, he is the third forester in the family, and what’s more, he also hunts. These two professions were never far from each other, and there was a time in this institution when ornithologists took their turn, many of whom are still working in various fields of nature conservation today.
Bence and his family are among the foresters who have chosen the path of life to add saplings to the many newly planted or renovated forests in the country. A full-blooded country boy who hunts with his father when he can, walks the border. The time has now come for me to start hunting for roe deer, too – the forestry technician candidate told Agro Jager News.
The young hunter lives in Kunszentmiklós, in the heart of Kiskunság, in Bács-Kiskun county, in the middle of the Alföld. The landscape is mostly dotted with pastures, mowing fields and, of course, lowland forests. It is an extremely dry, arid area of our country, and the foresters, even if they can plant trees on the sand, can provide plenty of drinking fountains for the game, which the hunting companies in the area also do. Acacias and gray poplars alternate, and it is known that these forests have a weak ability to hold game. However, the gamekeeper and the forester can do a lot for the roe deer, and with it also for the small game, which of course benefits the protected and specially protected mammals and the birdlife as well. Water brings life to this landscape.
The other day, he and his father went to the territory of Szentgyörgyi Vádászó Farmers in Tatárszentgyörgy. Kunszentmiklós, Kunpeszér, Kunbábony, which lie in their immediate vicinity. We can also say that this is Imre Bogár’s favorite region, where, if we pull ourselves together, maybe the outlaws of the old world will still greet us today. Who knows? That’s all you have to do to slow down, get out of the car and leave it far behind you, because it’s impossible to get to know this landscape from there, and hunting isn’t real either.
Sunny, slightly windy weather awaited them and, of course, his father’s good friend, Gábor Balogh, whom, as Bence says, I inherited a little from my father, because I’ve known him since I was a child and loved him very much.
We left in the afternoon and set up an ambush – Bence recalled, but nothing moved there in the twilight. My friend suggested that we go shopping. We also ran into two regular six-year-olds and a small young, even do-it-yourself roe deer. They were exciting moments, because we had to look at “them” and even if the rifle didn’t go off, we both knew that we had narrowed them down to a shooting distance. I think this capital hunting and forestry profession is also about this for me, even if I am now a guest. Maybe in a few years I will be able to accompany a guest or take my father’s good friend hunting.
Hunting a wild animal is not an easy task, especially when two people try it: these are what give the hunt its flavor, and the fact that after all this, even in a professional sense, we have to decide…
Forestry and wildlife management, including nature conservation, are one and there is no good or bad in them. There are balances that we need to help. It is the same in wildlife management, as in forestry, that invasive tree species must be cut down because they are not native to the Hungarian flora, and valuable trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants would be displaced if we did not do anything about them. Non-native plants can suppress our valuable plant communities and we can lose these areas. This phenomenon can also be observed in wildlife management, as it also affects nature conservation. The profession must find answers to the aggressive expansion of a particular species and the explosive growth of its populations.
I enjoyed hunting – Bence told the newspaper, as it not only gives me free time, but also my profession. We came to a big hill. We settled on top of the hill. Next to it was a sandy road, beyond that there was a small forest, and after that a line of bushes ran off into the distance. Then meadows and pastures stretched away, and even if you can’t see it there, the Apaj steppe stretches up there. As the crow flies, maybe 20 kilometers from us. Kunpeszér Great Forest, to mention one or two more famous areas. It is certainly a magical place here, below Budapest, where the roe deer feels good.
We teleported. Me with the binoculars, and my professional hunting friend, Gábor Balogh, with binoculars, when a roe deer appeared. The first branch on the left stem was a little shorter. A real scumbag, he whispered – but he was so far away from us that he could have said it out loud: but we usually talk like this when we’re out. Of course, everyone is a forester. Scrap. It will never be capital and this antler shape, undesirable in the herd, would spoil the antler shape of the following generations of bucks. Sure, it was a known roe deer, but it was many hundreds of meters away from us.
The evening was approaching and our chances were dwindling, but he kept getting closer and closer to us. It was barely 80-100 meters away when my friend spoke: if I think I want to drop it, then let’s not wait any longer.
My gun is a Sauer 202 .30-06 caliber pellet rifle with a Swarovski Z6i scope on it. I use Geco Plus ammunition, its 11 gram bullet is ideal. Several forestry companies use these cartridges, they are effective and the profession likes them.
He crossed himself, that’s what I was waiting for – he continued. I don’t know, I was also nervous and my friend also said that he stepped at the moment of the shot and I felt that I was also pulled into him. He kicked out and disappeared past the row of bushes. It drifted away, but we watched it with the binoculars and, waiting for the right time, we started from the place where it was shot towards the bed. Anyone would think that if we have seen where the game is, then the hunter has an easy job, but this is never a guarantee. Unexpected events always happen when hunting, and our fears were confirmed: the roe deer was watching us and disappeared into the night apparently healthy.
The mistake hurt me a lot. It consumed my boyfriend and my father as well. Neither of them was sure if I had hurt him. Both of them were determined that bloody help was needed. Meanwhile, I knew: I must have hurt him.
In the morning, István Szloboda, a known hematologist, picked up the trail. His dachshund has legendary results behind him and he also brought the work-tested Hungarian greyhound with him. Unique search engine in Hungary. In no time, the dog picked up the trail and we set off. He let his dog work, as did we. We found the location. We managed to record team signs: we found a drop of blood and a small piece of meat, so we made a good professional decision to ask for help.
We were standing on the line of bushes when István Szloboda started using binoculars and, although the area was unfamiliar to him, he spotted the roe deer. We all watched it and he was of the firm opinion that the fawns were healthy and that even if they had a shot, it would be completely unnecessary to chase them. My father and his friend have been hunting for a long time and spoke the same language with István. Everyone remained convinced that I would return and not to hunt for other deer, but only for this one.
Father is like this and so is his friend. Of course, I didn’t want to go on another deer hunt either. I would have felt so impersonal and I didn’t bring this from home, this is not what we learn at school and the profession itself, the forestry profession, does not represent this at all. It was very bad to go back to Szeged. My friends in class knew that I was going on my first stag do. For us, in Szeged, hunting goes hand in hand with forestry. There are no boundaries. There is no separate forestry and wildlife management. We can only manage the forest as a unit. There are no boundaries and many of us are passionate about hunting, observation, and nature conservation.
When school was over, I had to help my father at home. It’s spring, we have a lot of tasks, the season is starting. Soil work and sowing were waiting for us, it was impossible to leave everything behind and go hunting. My father also knew that I was really going, he saw it on me, and my friend, a professional hunter, also called me: don’t worry, because he saw the roe deer, he didn’t get lost there, and if I have time, they will wait for György Tatárszent again. My father and I started over, and then the two of us continued to walk. We went straight to the hill and settled on the very top of it.
It was gray when he stood up a good 500 meters away. Of course, we didn’t even have a chance to shoot him and had to wait. I had plenty of time to look and I was glad that there was nothing wrong, although I believed that I had hit it, which was finally confirmed by István Szloboda. Then he just moved closer, always closer and closer. When he got in range, I took aim. I’ve shot a lot of bullets. I know my gun and I still like to shoot targets with an air rifle. I knew what I wanted and aimed for the neck. I wasn’t nervous anymore.
I was waiting for my first roe deer hunt in my life, and on the first evening as well, my friend waited for the roe deer to come very close. After the injury, more than a week passed with difficulty. I didn’t want to either, but my father wouldn’t have let me go to another roe deer. No, hunting can’t just be shooting for its own sake, and we foresters don’t represent that either. I blew out the air and as I pulled the trigger, my doe fell in fire…
This is how it happened that I was able to shoot my first roebuck in Tatárszentgyörgy with my father’s good friend. I will always be grateful to him and I will be grateful that his friends can be my friends as well, that they accept me and I am still only a forester candidate. My family and my school have loaded my backpack with travel guides, and I am sure that the forestry profession and the love of the wild will accompany me in my life, just as it accompanied my grandfather and my father.
We set the age of my first doe to four years old. The weight of the trophy is around 200 grams, but we can only give exact data after the judging – Bence Halmai informed Agro Jager News about Kunszentmiklós.
Dr. Péter Szilágyi Bay LL.M.
Photo: Bence Halmai’s family and friends
The hunters united againts the golden jackal
Hunters from Bács-Kiskun county have united againts the golden jackal
Bátmonostor is located in the southwestern part of Bács-Kiskun county, just a few kilometers south of Baja. The second longest river in Europe, the Danube, meanders just a few kilometers from the settlement. Here, between the Danube and the Tisza, the Széchenyi Zsigmond Hunting Company of Bátmonostor farms approximately 3,200 thousand hectares – Tamás Juhász began his report.
The area is extremely diverse and provides an excellent habitat for many species. Due to the proximity of the Danube, the proportion of swampy and boggy areas is significant. Some places are impassable to humans all year round. These are the jackal’s protected areas, where they are almost always found.
About 11 years ago, the once native golden jackal, which had always been present in the area, reappeared. Migrants always came and went from the south, from Serbia. However, the species, which enjoyed a protected status for years, has lost its “foothold” in the southern counties of Hungary, to such an extent that the regionally competent game managers are slowly becoming powerless. Number of jackals are unknown. There are periods when the packs are quiet, they don’t cry at all. It also happens that only one individual from a larger family breaks the silence.
Bátmonostor is well known among golden jackal hunters. Attila Oszlánszki shot one of the biggest golden jackals in Hungary. Due to the temporary border closure erected a few years ago, the migration routes of the golden jackal have ceased, and the local population has been “trapped” in the territory of Hungary. Before the construction of the fence, the migration of jackal packs could be observed. From time to time they appeared and then continued to stand. Before the construction of the fence, the jackal population in Bács-Kiskun county was more manageable.
No one could foresee what this species would do to the domestic fauna. For the first time, local hunters were happy with his appearance.
Taking advantage of the protected status, it became stronger. Their population grew year by year. After it became a huntable species, few people hunted it. In recent years, however, it has become clear that, in addition to mice and voles, it also does not spare small game and arthropods. The predator species, which also feeds on rodents, can destroy prey animals much larger than itself, and it also attacks the youngest and most vulnerable age groups.
The problem of the hunters in Bátmonostor is not unique, the jackal families move from one area to the area of the neighboring game farmers.
The situation in Bátmonostor and its surroundings deteriorated significantly after Sándor Németh, an extremely skilled trapper, changed his profession and stopped his work. In two years, he caught about 250 predators, at least half of which were golden jackals. After he left, a vacuum effect was created on Bátmonostor. The golden jackals living in the area immediately occupied the new territory. In the blink of an eye, the local jackal population doubled. The species became more and more confident, soon realizing that it had no natural enemies. In some places, it can be observed at any time of the day.
Tamás Juhász and his friend János Pál, the hunting master of the Miklós Kriskó hunting company in Nagybaracska , talked about golden jackals many times, both in person and on the phone. The communication with the hunting companies in the area also became stronger. The rise of the golden jackal brought together the neighboring hunting societies, which are always in good contact. The grassroots cooperation has reached ever greater levels. Each company talked to each other separately. After that, the leaders of eight hunting companies agreed to sit down together and find a solution to the problem.
In Bátmonostor, game managers from Vaskúti Kossuth, Garai Nimród, Jóbarátok, Dunafalva Nagybaracskai Kriskó Miklós, Dávod Délvidék, Bátmonostori Széchenyi Zsigmond and Mélykút Hunting Associations met each other. The sharing of information started at a level that had never been seen before in the landscape unit. The local experts listened to each other’s advice and observations.
It is an obvious fact that the jackal reduces the population of useful game to a level that has become unmanageable. If substantial progress is not made now, there will be no hunting for the jackal in the coming years and decades. In Bátmonostor years ago, 100 deer were seen in some places, now only four or five at the most. The wild is constantly nervous. The population of small game has decreased significantly.
The local game farmers agreed on specific plans during the consultation, which lasted for several hours. All participants accepted the joint decision to increase the hunting and taming of the golden jackal under the conditions set by the hunting law.
The local hunting societies helped each other and formed hunting groups in rotation. They hunt golden jackals together, in the territory of the hunting companies participating in the cooperation. The brigade of work is carried out by the professional staff, with the cooperation of the members. The biggest challenge was fuel and vehicle costs. Everyone finances this expenditure themselves.
For years, this was an insurmountable obstacle when jackals hunted from the neighboring area, although professional hunters told each other whenever possible. In those parts of the area where jackals were hunted more intensively, they became more cautious and periodically moved to neighboring hunting grounds. By joining forces, they can now keep the cane wolf, which reproduces extremely quickly, under constant pressure. Recently, hunters from Kunszentmárton found ten jackal cubs in a ditch near a fishpond, which was also reported by Agrojager.
In addition, new traps were purchased. Trapping jackals is also extremely difficult, but many methods have already proven successful in the county. Different baits are often the key. Some swear by duck head and beef tongue, while others consider smoked salami to be the best bait. They also bought digital devices as a test, which only works if the trap is set off. As a result, the rangers’ fuel costs and time spent can be greatly reduced.
Predator hunters also bought new whistles at their own expense, with which they imitate different prey sounds. The hunting of the skunk is one of the most difficult. In addition to material tools, it also requires many individual observations and individual skills that are almost impossible to learn on your own. The most skilled golden jackal hunters of our country were also invited, in order to speed up the transfer of knowledge.
The initiative can already be quantified since 12 pieces of jackals have been put on the table since March. Another goal is to make the cooperation as widely known as possible. Other game farmers in the county can also join the coalition if they are unable to handle the pressure of the jackal alone – Tamás Juhász concluded his report.
Written by Dr. Gergely Szilágyi
Photos: Zsigmond Széchenyi Hunting Association of Bátmonostori
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Tamás Retkes met with jackals – he photographed them
Tamás Retkes has been taking photos since childhood. He was born in Szekszárd in 1977 and following the example of his father and godfather, it became a part of his life. His favorite terrain is Gemenc and he regularly walks a 15-20 kilometer circuit. He knows every opening and cut, and as we learned in the ranks of the foresters, from the old men, the forest knows us too. He doesn’t get used to your smell, said an old Mátra forester, but he knows you’re there. Tamás Retkes also walks the thickets like a ghost, when fate brought him together with golden jackals one morning. It was faster than attentive predators, readers of Agro Jager News can now enjoy a glimpse of this.
From an early age, Tamás Retkes enjoyed capturing a moment and sharing it with others. For his primary school graduation, he received a Smena 8M camera, with which he started taking photos. Later, at his first job, he bought a Kyocera Finecam L3V digital bridge machine with his first salary. He also sent the photos he took to tenders, as a result of which some of his photos were published in books. In 2006, during the excavations of the M6 motorway, during the excavation of the track, he was hired as a photographer at the Wosinsky Mór County Museum. It was here that he started and learned to work as a large-scale photographer with serious machines and studio equipment.
In addition to museological tasks, nature photography is still the closest to him today. Most of the time, he starts taking photos around Szekszárd. Szálka, Gemenc, Sötétvölgy, Lengyel-Annafürdő, Óbánya, to mention a few places. It is natural to take landscape and macro photos, but he also often captures the city itself, Szekszárd. He likes nighttime astrophotography and regularly takes 360-degree spherical panoramas. In recent years, he has also dabbled in aerial photography, which he also enjoys very much.
Every year at Pentecost, he presents a photo exhibition, titled GEMENC, in his birthplace and residence: Szekszárd.
He took the photo on the front page in Gemenc, where he has been going for 10-12 years. His permit was issued by Gemenc Zrt. and the Danube-Dráva National Park, where he has been visiting for 6-7 years. He always walks the same circles in the famous forest, so he already knows the openings. He usually travels 15-20 kilometers and always starts at dawn. He gets out while it’s still dark and takes photos until noon.
That day, he sat down at an intersection where he saw four openings. He always sees movement in the clearing in front of him, and several of his deer and wild boar photos were taken there. All of a sudden, he became aware of movement and saw two jackals emerging from the forest. He started taking photos of “them”, and soon after them, the third, slightly darker colored jackal came out.
I have photographed jackals before – he said, but until now he was always alone, we never met in a pack. Interestingly, they were heading towards him, but since he was wearing a camouflage suit, he wasn’t suspicious until they were close enough and probably smelled him. At that point they stopped, then went back to where they came from, turned back into the thicket. He had a hunch that they would also go through the left arrow! That’s how he held himself and turned over to that opening.
His expectation was confirmed: they also came out of the other opening and headed towards him very curiously. At this moment, the deer came out from the other side in the background. It was just an encore and a lot of luck. I was in the right place at the right time! said the lucky nature photographer.
When the jackals were close enough and they became suspicious again, they turned and started walking with their backs towards the deer. And the deer came from the left side of the arrow and left on the right side. Finally, the jackals continued to where the deer came from, to the left of the clearing, and disappeared in the thicket.
It was a great experience and I forgot to breathe while I was taking photos! I sat and looked up at the sky for minutes! It will remain an eternal experience for me and no one can ever take that away from me – told Agro Jager News about Tamás Szekszárd Retkes.
Pictures of Tamás Retkes’ exhibition organized in 2022 can be viewed here. You can access it by clicking here!
Tamás regularly gives away his photos after exhibitions. He has already donated more than 130 photos to the János Balassa hospital, but you can also see photos in the waiting room of pediatrician Dr. Mária Gonda. You can view the photos displayed in the waiting room here!
In addition to his work, Tamás Retkes regularly takes photos on the weekends and also photographs portraits and weddings with his friend. You can access their website here!
Dr. Péter Szilágyi Bay LL.M.
Jackal cubs were rescued by hunters from Kunszentmárton
In Kunszentmárton, the experts of the Körös Hunting Association found a golden jackal litter, in which they found about 10 cubs. After rescuing the little ones that were a few days old, they were transported to the Hortobágy Bird Hospital.
In Kunszentmárton, in the southern part of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County, Körös Vadasztársaság farms. In the spring season, the biggest task is the protection of fallow plants and the prevention of game damage, while the deer hunting season has also arrived. In the settlement, the cooperation between the game farmer and the plant growers is extremely good, and the whole company is currently guarding the crops. Many people walk the border with their Vizsla when on May 2, in the morning hours, one of their members came across a litter of golden jackals, professional hunter Alex Turó informed Agro Jager News.
The golden jackal thrives in Hungary and is slowly conquering Europe from the south. A larger predator than the fox, it belongs to the canidae family. He is an extremely skilled hunter and hunts in packs when possible. Many people argue that jackals raise their young in burrows, or well hidden, but on the surface. Now, in Kunszentmárton, they have found clear evidence that it was born on the surface, because they found the vácka on the Hatos-tó side, or as the locals call it, in the Iskolaföld area.
The extremely strong spread of the golden jackal causes significant damage to the roe deer population, but it also decimates the populations of the wild hare and protected and highly protected ground-nesting birds, but it does not linger and approaches inhabited areas as well. It is possible to shoot all year round, but the good-natured hunter from Kunszentmárton instead notified the professional hunters Alex Turó and Gábor Kenyeres.
When the professional hunters arrived at the scene, they did not leave the little things for a few days, in agreement with their fellow members, because the smell of the vizsla and the hunter made it doubtful whether the returning bitch would leave the cubs alive or if she would continue to raise them at all? They put the litter of about 10 puppies in a box and reported to the president of their company, Dr. Sándor Tálas, who is also the district veterinarian.
The news spread like wildfire in Kunszentmárton. Within minutes, Fülöp Miklós, a volunteer at the Hortobágy Bird Hospital, who manages the Kunszentmárton station as one of the managers of around 70 stations in the country, contacted the director of the hospital, Dr. János Déri. Barely half an hour passed while Dr. Sándor Tálas examined the little things in his office and prepared them for transport, because Dr. János Déri undertook to raise the little things in Hortobágy.
Dr. János Déri, head of the Hortobágy Bird Hospital, pointed out to Agro Jager News that it is very difficult to find golden jackal puppies. The skillful predator is extremely observant and in order to better understand this species, it is important to get to know its behavior. Now, at the Hortobágy Bird Hospital, the little ones are raised under constant supervision 24 hours a day, because unlike birds, dogs require constant care in the initial period.
As a veterinarian, I couldn’t do anything else, he says, since it is his duty to save such small puppies, even if it is otherwise a bull. In the case of birds, too, we save many species, he says, which are not under nature conservation protection. In the course of their operation, they help all animals in trouble, which they solve without any kind of state support, with the help of many volunteers. He confirmed that the 70 animal rescue stations built nationwide are working continuously. These are mini-bases equipped with cages, aviaries, and tools, which are able to assess whether the birds can be released after a few days of recovery or whether they need to be transported to Hortobágy for further care. You can access the national list here -> Report an injured bird HERE!
He pointed out that the golden jackal raises many questions, but from an animal health and epidemiological point of view, it also presents several tasks that need to be clarified, since due to its feeding habits, compared to the red fox, it is difficult to immunize the golden jackal against rabies orally. Which means that it finds the bait placed out for foxes, but does not chew it apart and thus the capsule passes through its alimentary canal unharmed.
Dr. János Déri concluded that the puppies in Kunszentmárton are most likely not rabid, but they receive vaccines and other vaccinations immediately. As with dogs, golden jackal puppies also undergo this protocol.
In response to the interest of our magazine, the hunting association informed us that, analyzing the table data, the population of the golden jackal is getting better and growing every year. Last year, 17 fell. Alex Turó added that the ten cubs were not included in the statistics in any way, but he revealed that he has been a professional hunter for many years, but the small things of a few days moved not only him, but also those who saw them, which is why we decided to save them in the Kunszentmárton jackal cubs.
Dr. János Déri summarized that they are doing everything to keep the puppies alive. This is now a huge professional challenge for us. He added that several wildlife parks have already expressed interest, so if they manage to raise jackal cubs, they will be handed over as soon as possible so that they can socialize and integrate into their new home as soon as possible. He also promised to keep the readers of our newspaper informed about the fate of the puppies.
Dr. Péter Szilágyi Bay LL.M.
Photo: Alex Turó, professional hunters Gábor Kenyeres, Miklós Fülöp and the Kunszentmárton Körös Vadasztársaság
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