Hunters and expert deer callers from nine different European nations gathered near Minsk, Belarus last week for the 17th annual European deer-calling championships. The methods employed by the participants may be different from those used by North American hunters, but there was no doubt that some impressive skills were on display over the weekend.
According to WTVY, 27 deer callers from Belarus, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, France, and Germany attended the competition in a national park just southwest of the Belarus capital.
“At first you study behavioral habits of a bird or an animal and imitate sounds they make in order to bring them closer, to photograph or to capture this animal. This ability to spot, to imitate, to outsmart an animal—this is real art in our opinion and in the opinion of the people gathered here,” event organizer Yuri Shumsky told Reuters.
Contestants were required to imitate various deer calls, such as mating grunts, challenges between rival stags, and the roar of a victory. Interestingly, there is not a set standard for equipment—participants went on stage with everything from sea shells to metal pipes, to a traditional telescoping call. Nearby, a multi-national judging panel awarded scores from behind a wooden screen. In the end, the first and second prize went to two contestants from Poland while a Czech caller nabbed third.
You can watch a video of the event below:
Although the competition is only in its 17th year, deer calling evokes a tradition going back centuries. To many hunters who attended the event, deer hunting is not only a good way to put venison in the fridge, but also a heritage that is closely entwined with their personal and cultural history. Of course, many also hunt because they enjoy it.
“[It] is is not a sport, deer calling is a disease, because every deer caller on the 9th month of every year goes to the woods to live there. He wants to lure in his trophy and nothing else interests him—neither wild boar, nor roe, only deer,” Lithuania contestant Audias Pankyavicius told uatoday.tv.