Capercaillie hunting

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Where to hunt Capercaillie

Capercaillie, the world’s biggest grouse, inhabits temperate and cold climate zones of Europe and Asia. There are two subspecies: common capercaillie and rock capercaillie. Rock capercaillie is the denizen of Siberia, and is less known and hunted than common capercaillie, that inhabits Europe and is the object of the classic European hunts. Small populations of capercaillie exist in the Alps, the species is abundant in Scandinavia, but the best hunting opportunities are to be found in Russia and other countries of the former USSR.

Preisverteilung

The price of a capercaillie hunt depends on the season and the hunting method. The ultimate capercaillie hunt - stalking at a lek to the mating song in spring – is also one of the most affordable. Hunts in Russia and Belarus start at just under $1,000 per hunter. Winter stalking hunts in Scandinavia are slightly more expensive; they will set you back about $2,500-$3,000. Rock capercaillie is often included in package hunts in Siberia, that may also include such expensive species as the brown bear, and as usual the price of such packages is determined by the most expensive species.

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Few hunters have heard the quiet song of the capercaillie. The world’s biggest grouse is famous for its shy nature, requiring large tracts of undisturbed woods to thrive, and it sings – if you can call these sounds a song – very quietly. What makes the spring hunting at the lek special? It takes a sensitive and trained ear to hear the song, and blessed are those who had a chance to do so, for capercaillie stalking to the song at the lek is one of the most unusual and difficult experiences a hunter may have.

4 Jan. 2018 The Quiet Call of the Biggest Grouse

When to hunt Capercaillie?

The spring mating season is limited to 10 days in Russia, more in other East European countries, and typically falls on late April or early May. The autumn bird season may start in late August and continue well into winter. Early season is better for hunting with bird dogs, while late autumn season works better for stalking hunts.

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Early in the season, when the young birds are still with the female, capercaillies hold the point and can be hunted over pointers and setters. However, the peoples of North-Eastern Europe developed special breeds of dogs that tree capercaillies and indicate the location by barking. The Scandinavians, however, prefer stalking capercaillie and blackcock in winter with rifles and without dogs. In the former USSR the ultimate capercaillie hunt is stalking the cocks to their mating songs. In early spring capercaillies gather together at special mating grounds, or leks, where the males attract the attention of the females by singing. At a certain part of this song the cock becomes deaf; the hunters use this moment to make a few steps in the bird’s direction, until they get within a shotgun range. This is not as easy as it sounds, because the hunter will have to do it in the dark, going through wild, uncleared woods.

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Why hunt Capercaillie?

Capercaillie is an exclusive bird that few people outside the former USSR and Scandinavia ever hunted, or even know about. It was the hunt for the royalty: both the Romanovs and the Kings of Sweden preserved large areas of the best capercaillie leks for their exclusive use – and yet, it was a hunt for a commoner, too, with the great body providing a lot of meat for the larder. A capercaillie hunt at a lek is an exclusive hunt like no other. Navigating the untamed East European forest in the dark, finding your way to the singing birds across fallen logs, bogs, wet moss, islets of unmolten snow, listening to the unusual sounds of the bird’s mating song, and never knowing when it may stop the singing and catch the sound of your footsteps. Sometimes the abrupt end of the song catches you when you stand on one leg, the other barely touching a treacherous dry bough, or with water leaking in your boot, but you have to stay still until the bird flies off or starts singing again. The wealth of emotion is what drives people, spring after spring, to hunt capercaillie.

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