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To hunt or not to hunt…

Many years ago, in another life, I won a lottery. My prize? The opportunity to shoot a moose. I borrowed a 30.06 rifle and practised. And to my surprise, I could hit the target. Moose hunting in Alaska is controlled. Herds are culled. The rules are very strict. All the meat is put to use. I had no qualms about the process or the whys and wherefores in that part of the world – it’s  way of life and many people depend on the meat to get through the winter. But when I saw my moose, I couldn’t pull the trigger. Those eyes… It was a waste of a tag and certainly earned me no favours. It was the one and only time I entered the draw.

I have nothing against subsistence hunting. I can’t say the same for hunting for glory though. The thought of saving the head to stick on a wall and wasting the rest is beyond reason. So when we visited Kamnik, outside of Skopje, I was a little surprised.

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The Lakavica reserve is about 7000 hectares in total, 2500 which is fenced. Guided hunts (4/5 days) for wild boar, mouflon, deer and more are led by experts. You can then ship the meat home, have some of it cooked at the restaurant that night or leave it with them to serve to regular customers. The Hunting Lodge itself has 16 rooms, 5 suites, conference facilities, gym,  and a restaurant open to the public. The furniture suggests that everything is put to use. If you have to hunt, then don’t waste anything. But the question is – in this part of the world, do we have to hunt?Recreational hunting comes at a price that excludes the majority, making it a sport for those who have a healthy disposable income. It becomes entertainment. It’s not a fight against a marauding wild boar or a rabid wolf or an effort to stock your freezer to get through the winter – it’s a sport – and that I struggle with.

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A visit some years ago to South Africa taught me the value of culling. Of course there are two, if not three or four sides to every argument  and while you might choose to pick up your gun and head to the wilds for a week’s stress relief, in search of a trophy for your living room wall, I already know that it’s not something I could do.

But where there’s a demand, there’ll be a supplier and Kamnik seems to have a handle on it all. The added attraction is that there’s a vineyard next door producing some of the best wine in Macedonia. Definitely worth a visit.

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