Hunting in Romania Positioned in the south-east of Central Europe, Romania has a temperate continental climate and a varied relief, which is laid out concentrically and gradually passes from the high altitude of the Carpathian arch, to that of the hills, plateaus, plains and meadows, to the area of the lower flow of the Danube River and the Black Sea. The surface area of Romania's hunting stock is approximately 22.5 million hectares, of which forests make up 6.3 million hectares. In this true natural paradise characterized by a remarkable bio-diversity, over 20 species of mammals and 50 species of birds that are of interest to the hunt, make up numerically stable populations, with healthy specimens which are completely wild. Romania is the place in which the wealth of fauna, long hunting tradition and the picturesqueness of nature make each hunting party a memorable event. Romania has a long history of hunting. The country remains a remarkable hunting destination, drawing many a hunters because of its large numbers of brown bears, wolves, wild boars, red deer, and chamois. The concentration of brown bears (Ursus arctos) in the Carpathian Mountains of central Romania is largest in the world and contains half of all Europe's population, except Russia. Hunting in Romania more or less follows the European customs and traditions of central and eastern Europe, without the grand hound chases on horse of French and English fashion. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, the box-lock or open hammers 12 or 16 gauge, side-by-side double shotgun was the most common hunting firearm of all. In Romania, hunting is regarded as a privilege, not a right, and is surrounded by a nostalgic and romantic aura as people pursue it as a noble passion, complete with certain rituals like botez vanatoresc or tablou vanatoresc. Customs dictate that in big game hunting, in respect for the game and hunt, a tablou (English: image or painting) must be created, where all game is lined up for inspection, cleaned up as much as possible, with small pine branches in their mouths, in a photographic pose and by the hunting master, together with the other hunters and their guns, and photographs are taken as a memory. Less strictly, a tablou is also required if more than two people are hunting rabbit, pheasant or upland game in general. Also, according to tradition the hunting master asks for forgiveness from the dead animal, sometimes kneeling, and the successful hunter receives a little branch dipped in the animal's blood as badge of recognition; other rules like never stepping or mounting on a trophy are also part of the ethics. A "hunter's baptism" (botez vanatoresc) is performed for a novice hunter by his fellows when he kills a type of game for the first time; this consists of a mock caning with a branch, lest the hunter ever forget to respect the game or give a purpose to its killing. Big game hunting in Romania Bear hunting (vanatoare de urs). Romania has the highest number and density of brown bears in entire Europe, second only to Russia and is one of the only few countries to allow its hunting. The population is so large, that many bruins are encountered in suburban areas feeding of waste, yet the big ones are to be encountered solitary in the sub-alpine forests. According to CIC, the world record Eurasian brown bear trophy skin (687.79 CIC points) was shot in Romania in 1985, and for the skull trophy, Romania has 2nd place (69.30 points), while 1st place (70.0 CIC points) was shot in Kamchatka, Russia. Around 250 permits are issued yearly for two bear hunts: fall season (Sep. 15 - Dec. 31) and spring season (Mar. 15 - May 15). Methods used are spot and stalk, waiting, game drives and under special permit, over bait; anything else, like trapping, shooting from blinds or elevated stand or use of archery are illegal. Recommended are large caliber rifle magnums, with a 7x64 mm minimum necessary. Good populations are in Gurghiu, Vrancea, Făgăraş and south-east Carpathians. In Romanian cynegetical tradition, bear baculum is regarded as unconventional trophy. Chamois hunting (vanatoare de capre negre) in this country ranks as one of the world's finest, in both specimens’ quality and level of challenge. According to the CIC, Romania accounts for the top world record chamois trophy at 141.1 CIC points, shot in Făgăraş in 1937, and unbeaten since, along with other seven of the world's top ten trophies. Capra neagra (black goat) or capra de munte (mountain goat), or how Romanians call these animals, are confined solely to the alpine regions of the south and eastern Carpathian Mountains, living summers above and winters under the timberline. Hunting in such rugged terrain, such wary animal, with very keen senses, makes it very demanding, tiresome and suited only for the fittest and experienced sportsman; chamois hunting is comparable to that of Eurasian ibex or North American mountain goat. The only methods used are stalking and waiting; any use of dogs or drives with beaters are strictly forbidden. The only weapon allowed for hunting chamois is rifle, with a 5.6x50 mm caliber coefficient or better. Most successful shots are long range, made from scoped bolt-action or express rifles. A special permit must be obtained by both hunters, foreign or domestic, in order to pursue this animal, in a hunting season of a month or so, opened each year around mid October. Stag hunting (vanatoare de cerbi) refers to three species cerb carpatin or Carpathian stag (Cervus elaphus hippelaphus), caprior or roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and cerb lopatar or fallow deer (Dama dama). The most prized remains the red stag (Cerbus elaphus hippelaphus) the largest of the subspecies whom will refer to hitherto. With good numbers, and of fine quality, Romania possessed many times the world record, last of which, between 1981–1985, with a trophy of 261.25 CIC, points, taken in Soveja, Vrancea County, in 1980. Current national record is 264.51 CIC points, taken by Ronald Philipp on 22 Sep. 2003 in Valea Gurghiului, Mureş County. Inside hunting preserves, trophies are known to get even bigger, due to controlled feeding and protection. Hunting is done during an open season between 15 Sep. - 15 Dec., with a doe season extending until Feb. 15; methods use are by stalking or by waiting, with or without call (boncanitoare). Harvesting can be legally done only with the rifle, 7 mm caliber minimum, or more. Conventional trophies are the skull with antlers or shoulder mount but unconventionals are skin, the "pearls" (false canines), mane hair and the Hubertus Cross. Places geerally acceptated as providing best trophies are Valea Gurghiului, Valea Frumoasei. Wild boar hunting (vanatoarea la mistret) (Sus scrofa) is the most common big game sport in Romania; wild boar is often used for meat as well as for trophies (conventionally the male tusks only, but also shoulder mounts, female tusks, silver hat pins with boar bristles or hair or even skins and rugs). Hunting season for wild boar opens August 1 and closes February 15, but where considered varmints or pests, they can be shot any time of the year, with AGVPS approval. Methods used are waiting and stalking, but most popular are chase with dogs, usually terriers and scent hounds. Drives, where beaters drive the game to shooters waiting in stands who take shots at the running game, are also popular. Wild boar drives may include other animals as well, including red deer, roe deer, rabbits, foxes, wolves, and even bears, leading to staggering numbers of game. In his infamous drives, ex-tennis champion and billionaire Ion Ţiriac shot, together with his party (including Prince Dimitrie Sturdza, Wolfgang Porsche), each year, on the Balc hunting domain, in Bihor district, 185 boars in 2005, 186 boars in 2006 and a record of 240 wild boars in 2007 in single drive hunts. National record for wild boar (tusk trophy) is of 144.0 CIC, points. Most boars taken are weighing between 300-400 lbs., with sometimes old, solitary males up to 600 lbs.