Humans have hunted since they appeared in this world. Hunting provided them with the calories needed to develop their brain, stimulated them to discover fire and to create complex weapons, taught them to cooperate and to plan as a group, inspired their cave art and their mythology. With time it became a symbol of skills, power and strength, so it is hardly a coincidence that the first kings in the world, the men who ruled over Ancient Sumer and Egypt, were depicted as mighty hunters of lions, bulls, birds.
In short, hunting is one the things that made people what they are.
Today, when meat is readily available in supermarket meat departments, our notion of hunting changed. It is now a way to restore our lost connection to nature, to face our fears and to test our skills.
Bulgaria has a long tradition in hunting and offers excellent conditions for hunting tourism. Organised hunting movement in the country began in 1898 and in the 1970s started the first efforts of developing it as a trophy hunting destination.
Thick virgin woods are one of Bulgaria's greatest advantages. Since the 1990s the lands covered with forests in the country have increased, reaching in 2013 almost 38% of its total territory. Hunting in national parks and protected areas is forbidden, but specialised hunting grounds take care for game and provide conditions for hunting marvellous animals such as red deer and wild boar, wildcat and mouflon, fallow deer, brown bear and chamois, of small game such as marten and fox, of birds such as pheasant, capercaillie, eurasian woodcock, partridge, rock partridges and many others. The quality of the game in the country is so high that local trophies regularly receive top СIС scores. Bulgaria's location on the bird migratory route from Europe to Africa means that in spring and autumn in the country there is also a variety of game birds.
Bulgarians mountains are a place where hunting is particularly exciting. The large mountains in Bulgaria are five, the Strandzha, the Rhodope, the Stara Planina, the Pirin, the Rila and the Vitosha, each with its peculiarities and opportunities for hunting.
Among those the Strandzha stands out. The mountain in Bulgaria's southeastern corner is without a par in Europe. Due to a combination of historical circumstances which resulted in decade-long isolation, it has preserved its nature almost untouched by human activity. In it continue to thrive plants from the time before the last Ice Age, and the abundance of wild animals and birds is astonishing.
Kovach Hunting Ground (phone: 056 84 16 60, mobiles: 0898 778 853, 0899 887 774, www.lovendom-kovach.com) offers an excellent opportunity to get in close touch with the nature of the Strandzha and to meet animals and birds such as boar and Eurasian woodcock which are a challenge for even the best of hunters. Located on a bend of the Veleka River, Kovach Hunting Ground has three hunting fields inhabited by roe deer and red deer, jackal and hare, wolf and fox, and a variety of birds such as pheasant, white-fronted goose, rock partridge and others. The Veleka is good for connoisseurs of angling and for guests who prefer digital trophies the hunting ground organises photo safaris. The environs of Kovach are full with ancient sites to explore and the contact with the Strandzha's pristine nature charges with energy for months.
The Rhodope is a mountain that seemingly has its own spirit and soul. Rising in Bulgaria's southern part, this mountain is among the geologically oldest ground in the country and is a combination of steep peaks to the west and of gentle slopes to the east, of deep river valleys and of picturesque deciduous and coniferous forests. The Rhodope has been inhabited for millennia and even in its most isolated spots you can find traces of human presence – an abandoned stone bridge, a traditional small village, remains of a fortress, a rock shrine of the ancient Thracians. The mountain is also the home of a variety of wild animals which makes hunting there a pleasure and a challenge.
Deep in the picturesque slopes of the Rhodope near Chepelare there is a place where you will find tranquility, clean nature and contact with valuable and interesting local and imported species. Boar and red deer, fallow deer and mouflon, bezoar ibex and Barbary sheep, and Bulgaria's only population of Himalayan tahr inhabit the territory of Zabardo Hunting Preserve (information, inquiries and reservations: Engineer Svetloslav Krastev, phone: +359 88 855 1413, www.huntzabardo.bg). In Zabardo you will find as well comfortable accommodation, options for recreational fishing and photo safari, delicious local food made of products from the region. In the preserve's environs are sites of interest such as the Wondrous Bridges nature phenomenon, Pamporovo and the mineral springs of Narechenski Bani, and Plovdiv is only 60 km away.
Is it possible to combine full immersion in nature with the proximity of a large city, luxury accommodation and excellent food? In Tamrash Game Farm (phones: 359 884 209 077, +359 888 773 266, www.tamrash-hunting.com) the answer is affirmative. Located on territory of over 15,000 hectares in the northern slopes of the Rhodope, Tamrash is about an hour's drive from Plovdiv, but offers all the benefits of wild nature: clean air, thick forests, abundance of large and small game and birds. All of this should already be enough to win your heart forever, but Tamrash goes even further. At the Game Farm are available as well options for luxury accommodation, local and game cuisine from clean local products, horse riding and trekking.
Good hunting is unthinkable without good hunting weapons, munitions and accessories. Happily, what is offered on the Bulgarian market is more than excellent, fit for a range of tastes, requirements and budgets.
High technologies make hunting more different and exciting. At Aleksis hunting stores (Sofia, 25 Dr Petar Dertliev Blvd, Labyrinth Complex; Veliko Tarnovo, 3 Aleksandar Stamboliyski St, www.aleksis-optics.com) you will find everything you need to achieve that – like thermal cameras, aims, binoculars and others, and accessories for them. Aleksis also offers a wide range of smoothbore, rifled and combined weapons, ammunition, day optics, digital and thermal equipment, night vision devices, clothes, shoes and boots. Of the highest quality and from established manufacturers, the products in Aleksis provide comfort in all weather conditions and hours of the day, and are a trusted companion to the hunter the year round.
Good and reliable weapon, opportunity for training, online store, weapon maintenance – Metalhim (shooting range: Sofia, 77 Pchinya St, block 31А, shooting range phone: 359 89 33 40 321, weapon store phone 0886 13 61 05, www.metalhim.com, FB: @MetalhimHolding) offers everything that the experienced or the beginner hunter needs. Metalhim is an official representative of Glock and Fiocchi in Bulgaria. The store's special selection for hunters includes shotguns and rifles, accessories and magazines for them, Fiocchi ammunition and optics, rifle scopes and shooting accessories by manufacturers like Leica, Akah and Minox. At Metalhim there is a variety of hunting accessories such as hunting cameras, bags, knives, clothes, shoes and boots. To stay in shape even when in the city, book an appointment in the 25-metre shooting range and if you want to introduce a friend or a relative to the pleasure and adrenaline of shooting, enrol them in a training course in Metalhim. In the workshop you will find spare parts and highly qualified masters who will take care of the prophylaxis and cleaning of your weapon and will make an individual wood buttstock for your hunting rifle.
When you want a weapon that is not only of quality, but also has history, the online store www.blackpowder-bg.com is the place you need. There you will find the only officially imported in Bulgaria replicas of pre-1900 black powder muzzleloading weapons by the Italian manufacturers Pietta, Uberti and Pedersoli. On www.blackpowder-bg.com awaits a rich variety of revolvers, rifles, pistols and mini replicas of guns made of high-quality materials after the most advanced technologies and security measures. The store also offers accessories and spare parts fit for the authenticity of the items on sale. Thanks to www.blackpowder-bg.com you can feel like the protagonists from your favourite movies from Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean and Mel Gibson in The Patriot to Clint Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves. They are also your ideal, original and luxury gift for true men. The prices are directly from the manufacturer.
A destination, good weapon and full equipment: the only thing that one needs is to leave the city and to immerse themselves in the magic of Bulgarian nature.