The "Real Skinny" On Hunting In Bulgaria


Published: February - 1999

Bulgaria has long been considered a major destination by European hunters, but it is little known among American hunters. The main attraction in Bulgaria has long been and still is world-class red stags. There are a number of vast preserves near the Black Sea that regularly produce stags that compete with the best coming out of any other part of Europe. Another major attraction is the Balkan chamois; Bulgaria and Romania are the only countries that offer Balkan chamois. Otherwise, Bulgaria offers good roedeer, mouflon sheep, fallow deer and wild boar. There are limited opportunities to hunt Eastern European brown bear, but a hunter has to be especially careful in booking a bear hunt because some of those bears have been "canned," that is to say, raised in captivity and released just prior to the hunt. Finally, Bulgaria offers limited opportunities to hunt European bison at costs somewhat lower than in Poland, the only other country that offers European bison. In general, however, European bison are not a challenging quarry and do not provide a sporting hunt, and are thus of interest only to collectors.

Otherwise, Bulgaria has a very good infrastructure to support a sophisticated hunting program. It has very competent game managers and guides, and a network of lodges that range from comfortable to downright luxurious. Many of these were built by the late dictator Todor Zhivkov to entertain foreign dignitaries, captains of industry and VIP's in general. Bulgaria has - in the Rhodope Mountains - some of the last vestiges of true wilderness remaining in Europe, and villages that have hardly changed in over a century. It is a poor, backward country, and the lack of development has helped game populations.

In spite of all these attractions, Bulgaria has never been a popular destination among North American hunters. There are several reasons for this neglect. First, very few US booking agents have promoted Bulgaria. Second, Bulgaria was a communist country until the late 80s, and the pace of reform since then has been slow. Many American hunters have had an aversion to traveling in communist........(continued)

 
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