About Driven Hunt
Driven hunts for big-game are an inalienable part of many hunting traditions. This is one of the most "cultured" ways of hunting, requiring a lot of social intelligence and cooperation. Only a few predator species, including dolphins or lions, occasionally approach their quarry only to have it move in the direction where the other part of the pride or group lies in ambush. Like any kind of hunting, driving is subject to many misconceptions from those who never took part in it. Exciting for some, indiscriminate and dangerous for others, driven hunts come in so many various forms that each and every hunter will find something they can wholeheartedly enjoy. Read more...
A "driven hunt" works by presenting the game with an apparent source of danger, in the form of a line of drivers, or "beaters", from which the animals will escape to a seemingly safer direction, where another group of hunters, or "guns", is waiting for them inconspicuously. Driving is usually practiced in areas where people don't have a chance to approach their quarry before the quarry senses their presence. Usually it means dense woods, tall grass, reeds and other vegetation, or, by contrast, extremely open spaces where animals can't possibly be stalked within range. An additional advantage of driven hunts - and the reason why they're so popular in Europe - is that they provide an opportunity for many people to participate in a hunt on a limited area at the same time. Twenty hunters crowded over an area of a square mile (just over 2 square km) would present an impossible hindrance and danger to each other. But the same number of people, divided into eight "guns" and twelve "beaters", can have a safe and comfortable driven hunt over the same area. Driven hunts come in many types. There are big and pompous European affairs, like the Spanish Monteria, where large tracts of land are "beaten" and literally hundreds of animals killed in a few hours, employing dozens of "guns" and perhaps three times the number of "beaters" often assisted by dogs. A typical European big drive is accompanied by ancient rituals, with horn music, careful layout of trophies, and a way to pay respect for the slain animals. On the other end of the spectrum is an improvised drive when the only "gun" is you, and your guide with perhaps a few assistants trying to push your quarry gently to your position. In between there is an established group of hunters, often forming a hunting club, who hunt together taking turns as "beaters" and "guns". The biggest challenge with a driven hunt is its organization: making sure that there are animals in the "beat" (the area the drivers, or "beaters", go through), that the "guns" (the hunters who shoot the animals) are positioned where the animals would be willing to go, and that the beaters move in the right manner, so that the animals and hunters connect. The client on an outfitted hunt is almost never responsible for this, so it may sound like an easy job: they tell you where to stand, where to expect the game from, and the only thing you have to do is to take an easy shot at a close range, the animal fleeing from apparent danger behind and oblivious to actual danger in front, right? Wrong! Driven hunts are usually a Pareto set: 20 per cent of hunters harvest 80 per cent of the trophies. How do they do it? Here are two important tips: First, remember that your hunt begins the second you've been placed on the "peg" (the designated spot for a "gun"). The beginning of the drive is usually signaled by blowing a horn, or another sound, and many hunters mistakenly assume that before the signal they don’t have to be careful. But buck or a boar may actually be just a few steps away from the firing line, and any excess noise you make tells them to seek their luck elsewhere. An successful hunter will quickly identify the best place to stand, assume a comfortable, easy posture one can keep for a long time without moving, and blend with the environment. The other point is the very moment when the quarry first shows itself to the hunter. When novices notice the animal's approach, they tend to make an involuntary motion, even as they try to "freeze still", which alerts the animal. A driven hunt expert continues in the same posture until the animal comes to the spot where the hunter has a good clear shooting lane, shoulders the gun when temporarily sheltered from the animal by a tree, and makes a quick shot at just the right moment. Perhaps no other hunting type is as demanding to your shooting skills as a big drive.Shooting at a moving target can be hard enough, but a greater, and more solemn constraint is SAFETY. During a big drive, you're going to have other shooters to the right and left of you, and the beaters in front. The only relatively safe shooting sector is behind you, but the going-away shot at big-game should be avoided as much as possible, because firing from this angle is most likely to result in a wounded animal instead of a clean kill or much damaged meat. So you must not only try to connect with a fast-paced animal, but watch the space behind it, and not let it get into a danger zone. A big drive is a very exciting affair, which makes it so much difficult to keep a cool head that is necessary for your shots to be both accurate and safe. Proper identification of the animal is a challenge, too. In most cases, only animals of certain sex and species are legal to shoot, and killing others can imply serious consequences. For instance, during European boar hunts it's often forbidden to shoot a sow with the young (while the young themselves may be perfectly OK). You'll have only a split second to identify the animal and decide whether you can take the shot or not. It's even more difficult when the dogs are used - they get mistaken for game species more often than their owners would like. Sometimes vermin such as foxes must be shot at all times; on other occasions firing at any bird or animal other than the designated quarry, even if legal to hunt, is a misdemeanor. This is usually specified during instructions that you're bound to receive before each drive, but when in doubt, don't hesitate to ask. A paying client is unlikely to be asked to take a turn in the beat, but a few tips would not perhaps be out of place. The main rule for a beater is to keep the straight line, not getting ahead or behind the people on the right and on the left, and not avoiding the denser patches where animals are more likely to hide. As to how much noise to make, and how fast to move, it's a case of doing as the Romans do. In some places they try to push the animals hard, which makes them a harder target but not as likely to notice hunters on the firing line. In others, the animals are pushed more gently, so they are only slightly alarmed and walk rather than run - which makes hunting more predictable, but requires the “guns” to be more careful. Some trophy hunters disapprove of driven hunts, because it's hard to be selective, and the size of your trophies will be mostly a matter of chance. A more serious argument is that it is often a noisy, and invariably a collective thing. People who view hunting as an intimate connection to nature could feel ill at ease during a big drive at first, but a feeling of hunters' camaraderie and belonging to an ancient tradition usually more than compensate for the lack of individuality. Driven hunts offer a lot of excitement, opportunity and competitiveness, and a big drive is something that every hunter must experience at least once in the lifetime. Hide details
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