Continuing subscribers may remember my report in the September issue (see pages 8-10) on the hunts offered in the former Soviet Union by Denny Guerink's Outdoor Adventures. The firm offers a wide variety of hosted group hunts that are so far below the going rate for hunts in that part of the world that I admitted initially to a bit of skepticism. Well, I have now been on one of the hunts I highlighted in that report, an island stag hunt in the Black Sea just off the southern coast of Ukraine, and I am here to tell you it was everything Guerink said it would be. Let's get specific. The hunt takes place on an island that is approximately 30 miles long, three miles wide and flat as a tabletop. The gamekeeper and his family are the only inhabitants. Game populations, by contrast, are very dense. The hunt took place during the first half of October, and coincided with the peak of the rut. The stags continuously roared and bellowed, so much so that it was difficult to sleep some nights. Every day, all five hunters in the group I traveled with routinely saw 20 to 60 stags. Some of these were just fair to middling animals, of course, but roughly 10 percent were what I would call real trophies. It was important that one know what a trophy looks like on this hunt because the guides offered no advice on the quality of each stag, and left it entirely up to the judgment of the hunter whether to shoot or not. Even so, all five hunters took very good to outstanding stags, including a very heavy 8 x 9 and an excellent 8 x 8. With better marksmanship, our group might very well have taken some real monsters. One hunter missed three stags that the guide reported to be "enormous" at ranges of 25 to 40 yards; another hunter missed a stag of similar quality at similar range.
As these ranges suggest, this is an excellent hunt for bowhunters, and in fact, a Mexican bowhunter and his wife took outstanding stags the........(continued)