ROMANIA: Roebuck & touring 2022


AH elite
Dec 8, 2012
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South-Central Oregon
Hunting reports
South Africa, Argentina, Romania, United States (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California and Wyoming)
What follows is a little hunt report for a Romania Roebuck hunt my wife and I did in September of 2022. It was a nice little hunt but the experience was so much bigger. The true value in this hunt was in the people and countryside of Romania, we truly had a wonderful time. The warm hospitality of the Romanian people will never be forgotten. Though the story is written about the hunting, this report falls far short in explaining what an absolutely marvelous experience this was for us. A huge thank you to Horia Sandu of Unforgettable Hunting.

A roebuck seemed to be on the list of never-obtainables. Originally I tried to book a roebuck hunt for Scotland in 2018 for my fiftieth birthday but that never came to fruition. We found Horia with Unforgettable Hunting and liked his program. Africa Hunting’s own @gizmo hunted with Horia Sandu and provided a wonderful write up of his adventure. After reading Gizmo’s report, my wife and I booked to hunt roebuck and tour for May of 2020. Of course the Covid pandemic hit and travel worldwide seemingly came to a halt. Horia agreed to hold us over for 2021 but as that arrived, another wave of the pandemic kept us from traveling. We were able to sneak away to South Africa for a hunt in the Eastern Cape in early 2022 and things were beginning to look up. Contact was made with Horia and we made plans to hunt in September.

After a busy summer, September was on us quickly and it seemed surreal that we were standing at the check-in counter ready to board. After all the pandemic delays, it just didn't seem that this hunt would happen. Now the agent at the ticketing counter dropped a bomb asking for our vaccination cards or covid tests. By this time in 2022, all travel restrictions had been lifted; however this agent seemed ill-informed and was insistent on a test or vaccination. She sent us away. Quickly, Shannon jumped on the phone with our travel agent while I started looking for the closest test site. It was at this time that a good travel agent proved his weight in gold as he had Shannon march to the front of the line and, while on speaker phone, told the agent to read her entire policy. Once the agent did, she discovered the testing requirements were not needed for US travelers. Without much of an apology, we were issued boarding passes and allowed to fly.

The flights were endured. Medford to Seattle, Seattle to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Bucharest. Excitement built as we flew.

We arrived in Bucharest late and met Horia. We were quickly shuttled to a little restaurant for a much needed meal and it was here that I was first introduced to the devil’s elixir called Palinka, often a homemade white-lightning type of alcohol that burns. I guess that it may also be used as a paint thinner or cleaning agent. After dinner, Horia took us on a quick tour of the city before taking us to our motel. We got a little sleep then hit the town again, touring the Presidential Palace and taking in some attractions.

Once all the touring was done, we drove into the center of Romania. I enjoyed the scenery, the agricultural areas and then passing through the villages on our way to our mountain villa. I enjoyed it all.

I was up early to get ready to hunt. While waiting, I stepped out onto the deck and in the early morning darkness, I could hear a chainsaw working across the valley. I work in the mountains of Oregon providing security for three large private timber management groups. Hearing the chainsaw running made me smile a bit, it was almost like a welcome home.

Horia arrived along with our local guide. We completed some paperwork, talked over a few things then headed out for the hunt. We started driving through local areas, cutting through little orchards and agricultural plots and pastures. We broke away from some of this and into some rolling savannah type grasslands when our guide pointed out a buck that walked across the two track trail ahead of us. This was the first deer I saw. He looked small to me but Horia had me get out and get ready. Having no place to set up, Horia had me set up on the hood of the little pickup. I did so and Horia said he wanted me to take him. I’m allowed two, and have been waiting years to hunt these guys so I decided to get into the game. The buck was walking and would be in view and then out. He finally offered a good shot and I shot. And I missed it. No time to wonder or be mad, cycle the bolt, get back on the deer. He had trotted out and into a better position. I found him in the scope, fired and immediately knew he was hit hard. We walked away from the vehicle and to where the deer had been standing and found a big blood trail. A painted crimson stripe through the grass took us to my first roe buck, an interesting little cull.

We took photos then loaded my buck and then headed out again. We moved into a forested area where my guide and I took a walk. He spoke no English and I no Romanian, but we both were hunters. It was a great walk. At one point we found a buck across an open draw. He looked good but he was too far away to take a poke at with a borrowed rifle. After all, I had just arrived and didn't want to “tag out” so soon. After looking at the deer for a while, we made a little walk towards him but I wasn't disappointed that he was not seen again. The walk afforded me some beautiful views of the Romanian countryside.

We went to skin the buck. After hanging the deer, out came a bottle and some shot glasses. Here comes the Palinka.

Pics to follow

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That evening we took Shannon with us to hunt some agricultural stuff. Horia’s local guide had been seeing some bucks come out into the lucerne just before dark. We met with the guide and he gave some directions and soon Horia, Shannon and I were walking through a vineyard, picking and eating grapes, heading for our designated spot to sit. The smile on Shannon’s face let me know she approved of this style of grazing and hunting. We sat under a walnut tree and waited. It was more like a picnic than a hunt. A doe appeared then disappeared. A buck appeared and to me looked to be pretty good and I started to get ready. No rush as the deer had no idea we were there. I was prone and lining up on the buck when Horia said there was a big one in the upper field and we had to go. He pointed the deer out about a half mile away, and we took a quick look then bailed out from under the tree and started towards the bigger buck. We had hardly left the tree when I noticed the big buck and his doe moved off. We closed the distance and made a play on the deer but the buck never returned.

We had big rains that night and I had not packed much for foul weather gear. Our morning hunt took us up into the timber. We walked and it took very little time to get soaked from the wet grass. We hadn't gone far when Horia pointed out incredibly fresh brown bear tracks. This bear was close, but where? We continued our hunt, climbing, looking, side-hilling, and climbing some more. Finally we hit a ridge top and walked it out. We found a group of red deer in a grassy opening and stopped to watch them. Some hinds and some spikes. We enjoyed their company until a little bit of wind gave away our position and out they went. About a minute later, a stag began roaring. He wasn't far away but we never saw him. A thick horned roebuck appeared below us and I made a little play on him but didn't get a shot. We walked off the mountain and found our bear. He was feeding in an abandoned orchard and unaware of our presence. We skirted him and made it back to the truck. I was soaked and glad to be there.

In between hunts, Horia arranged for short little sightseeing tours or visiting local artisans. We attended church at a monastery and met many people along the way. These side trips and seeing how life is lived in remote Romania truly made this hunt incredibly special. Oftentimes we were greeted by a hostess with drinks of palinka served with nice little shot glasses on serving trays.
Our second evening we again drove to the low farm ground to look for the big buck. Our guide insisted that we arrive a few hours early so that I would already be in position well before the buck even thought of coming out. I was handed the rifle, a small stool, and directed to a general area in a vineyard. I was to sit alone and not move around too much.

I walked out as directed and planted my stool and waited. Grapes were all about and I occasionally helped myself. A group of gypsies were nearby and playing music over a loudspeaker. I don't know if it was a party or a barbecue but the music was loud. Normally I would have been upset as I like my serenity when I hunt. However, this buck has lived with this type of daily noise and distraction and perhaps the music would provide a type of cover for me. I ate grapes and watched for deer. A slight breeze kicked up, not in my favor at all. In fact, my wind was blowing into the area where I was hoping deer might appear. As a life-long deer hunter, I thought this to be the kiss of death. Again, these deer live in close proximity to people I told myself, relax and stick with the plan.

Just about sundown, some shouting erupted from where the music was playing. It somewhat sounded like a small verbal fight and the music stopped. By this time, I had seen a doe. She had fed out somewhat down wind of me and had picked her way around. She occasionally looked my direction but never seemed concerned. I saw a fox and a bit later, Horia radioed me by two-way radio to point it out. Light was fading and it became very peaceful. My little position in the vineyard was but a few rows away from a large lucerne field. I was told to watch the far end of it from time to time as the buck was known to come out from there. I would rise from my seat, scan the lucerne, then scan the tree line down wind, check on the doe and then sit. I would do this every ten minutes or so. As darkness was now very close, I decided that I would stay up to watch. I had just glassed the lucerne when I checked on the doe and then swung my glass back to the lucerne when a deer just bounded up and from the lucern and stood there just short shot away. Immediately I could see it was a good buck. I pulled the rifle up and leaned over a post. I reached for the radio but somehow decided that if I radioed Horia, this deer had come in so fast that he would be gone just as fast. I found the buck’s vitals in my scope and fired.

I knew the buck was hit and hit hard but had lost him in the excitement. I fumbled around for the radio and made a call. Horia answered and asked what happened and I replied I shot the big one. He was only a 150 meters away and he said to stay put. By the time he arrived I was shaking like I haven't in a long time. I pointed out where I had shot and Horia looked through his binoculars and immediately said he could see him down. We walked out and found my deer. Our guide was so excited that his plan had come together. We took some quick pics in the fading light and loaded the deer. On our way back to the villa, Horia asked if I wanted to go back to Shannon or to the skinning shed with the deer. To the skinning shed of course.

I often hunt alone. It’s not because I want to, it’s that my closest friends have all moved away and have families of their own. I have also found that not a lot of folks want to hunt with the game warden, a career that I recently retired from. A forgotten (for me) aspect of hunting is the camaraderie that can spontaneously erupt in of all places the skinning shed. The deer was barely in the shed when the game scout’s wife came through the door with a platter full of glasses and palinka. I drank mine and waved off any more. Apparently my denials were not emphatic enough as the glasses kept getting filled up. It was well past eleven, and a lot of laughter, that I finally found Shannon in bed and could tell her I shot a deer. The hunting was done.
We spent the next several days touring Romania. Peles Castle, Dracula Castle Sighisoara and several other fortresses. The love Horia has for his country is contagious. He loves to share and is proud of his heritage.

I cannot thank Horia enough for the personalized tours and the attention to detail to making this trip a special one for my wife and I. As mentioned before, the hunting was the primary attraction but the touring and meeting the Romanian people is what made this a trip of a lifetime.

I will add more photos as I work out whatever issue is plaguing me.
You should go to Maramuresh the Palinka is the weak stuff , they make horinca ( stronger version) they say when you drink it you don't realise there is a guy behind you with a stopwatch and a baseball bat
This is the only picture of the second buck that I've been able to upload.
Congrats and well done. Looks like a beautiful Roe buck. Sounds like a wonderful vacation/hunt. Thanks for sharing.
Big congrats Randy! Looks like yall had a wonderful trip.
I’m really interested in this- I may PM you for me details if ok.. I’m wanted to take my non hunting 16 year old son for vacation purposes and touring Romania’s cool castles, etc within the Carpathian Mountains and hunt roe buck and wild boar while there
Please do. Gizmo went with Horia too and he was helpful for us.
How's the swine flu affected the boar there ?
He lost a lot of pigs.
Great hunt, congrats :D Cheers:

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