Curious is the case of Stiliyan Kadrev , an excellent producer of Bulgarian hunting movies, undoubtedly one of the pioneers in the world. After accompanying hundreds of hunters across the globe with the camera on their shoulders, he became convinced that it was better business than shooting movies to market hunting packages.
Polyglot and fluent in Russian, he initially covered the countries of the former Soviet Union, but today he sells game all over the world. However, he continues with the camera recording his clients, because his true vocation is that of film director.
We have no idea what kind of hunting awaits us, and we only know that we are in the heart of the Balkan Mountains. We fly to Sofia with a layover in Rome, and make our way to the hunting area in the late afternoon.
We are at the end of March and I am surprised to see that spring in the Bulgarian mountains is much more advanced than in the Spanish ones. Here the beech and oak trees have well-developed leaves, and the meadows have tall grass.
The greenness of the entire field is spectacular, and I deduce that the volume of precipitation is greater. I look and look unsuccessfully from the car at all the corners of the meadows, the edges of the mountains ... looking for some corcito. There is no way, and it surprises me.
On a similar trip in Spain I would have seen them in complete safety. The next day, Íñigo tells me that he has been doing exactly the same thing all the way, without seeing any roe deer. What I don't understand is how hunters don't have more accidents since we can't avoid looking where we shouldn't.
Our interpreter and driver is a young boy who has lived for several years in Spain, and has even played in the lower categories of the Unión Deportiva Salamanca. He is a charming boy and he tells us that we are going to open a newly built hotel at the foot of the mountains.
It tells us that it is all natural and wild, without fences or anything like that. When we ask him about the name of the hotel, he spends some time meditating and answers: " Three fools ." Ángel takes it for granted, since we are three Spanish hunters who arrived, but he quickly clarifies that the three partners who have founded it are friends, dreamers, hunters and nature lovers who have chosen this original name.
It also tells us that the area we are heading to, close to the town of Ribaritsá , is a very touristy mountain area just two hours from Sofia, where you can practice different outdoor sports, and even trout fishing. Needless to say, I carry a small fly rod and all the belongings in my luggage.
THE DIFFICULTY OF BOW HUNTING
They touch target before dawn. We board an excellent off-road vehicle and head towards the mountains. The day dawns very covered and with the threat of rain.
Like every weapon I carry my bow and arrows. We set off in silence along a path between oak groves and beech forests, although the truth is that we constitute a large procession that opposes the failure of bow hunting.
In addition to the guide and the hunter, Ángel Hidalgo and Stiliyan accompany us with the camera and the tripod. We see a couple of roe deers running away from us as soon as we get out of the car. We are hunting on the purest slopes of the Balkans and I appreciate that it is a totally natural game, although a sixth sense tells me that it will be so authentic that ... the chances of success with a bow are going to be rather remote.
We continue to throw a roe deer , which for me is probably the most complicated piece of hunting with a bow . If it is difficult to approach at shooting distance and the animal does not be suspicious while you open the bow, it also happens that very often the roe deer hears the noise of the rope when releasing the arrow, looks at the hunter and sees the arrow flying, giving him time to retreat and dodge it.
It is something that has happened to me quite frequently in Spain. Nor do we disdain the possibilities of a wild boar being misled during the stalking, and the abundant recent samples that we observe during the stalking give us hope. I think the boar is a much more accessible piece than the roe deer for the bow hunter.
After a couple of hours I have come to the conclusion that we are in a very pure mountain area in which the abundance of roe deer is lower than in most of the areas we grow in Spain. In addition to roe deer there are deer, wild boar, wolves and bears .
There are no roe deer cagarrutas, footprints are scarce and there are few areas targeted by males. Throughout an entire morning we have had the opportunity to approach a couple of specimens, but this has not been possible.
I check that they have spots where they probably feed deer and wild boar. They also have a stone of salt in a trunk a little over a meter high. As the stone dissolves with rain, the salt falls down the trunk, and roe deer often come to suck the salt from the wood itself.
After a hearty lunch I ask you to take me to an area where I can try to catch some trout. I am surprised that they are quite lost, and despite being local countrymen they have no idea where I can find fish. The area has a good looking main river and several tributaries.
They take me to have a coffee in a lower area of the greater river. Although it is pretty and I fish it with nymphs, I quickly realize that either there are no trout, or they are very rare. I practically fish in an urban center, so I do not rule out that they are poached and fished with all the possible formulas, as they later confirm.
In the afternoon it begins to drizzle, at first gently, but clearly in crescendo. Perhaps the guide himself has noticed the difficulty of throwing a roe deer with a bow and suggests I make a boar wait.
I accept delighted because I know that in these parts you can find the piggy of your life, besides that I see more probabilities than with the roe deer. The problem is that the waiting turrets are designed for rifles and the closest one is almost 50 meters from the salt, water and food. But since it is raining more and more and the guide cannot accompany me, Stiliyan and I go there accompanied by a young boy.
The love of the animals is between 40 and 50 meters, which excludes the possibility of shooting at night. With the bow at that distance I can only do it during the day. I see a path to my nearest left, and I sense that if I entered it, I would have the possibility of a quicker shot.
The afternoon is falling and already in low light I glimpse the shadow of a pig next to the baths. Bad luck, they are several and ... accompanied by scratches. Three mothers begin to gather together, accompanied by a legion of Tostoncillos that play and rub themselves against the oak trunks.
For twenty minutes, and as the day fades and the rain rages, we enjoy watching them eat. Loud thunder sounds and we are dazzled by the lightning flashes. With the first, the pigs are scared, but from then on they renew their carefree work.
At one point they completely disappear. A few minutes pass and I tell myself that if the shadow of a lonely pig appears, I will shoot him. It is practically night, and there is little explanation for the fact that the females and the scratches have suddenly disappeared.