John Duncan reports on a recent pheasant shooting trip to the Czech Republic
By John Duncan
Having experienced several estates throughout Eastern Europe over the last few years, with mixed success, it was with nervous anticipation that I took a team of experienced British Guns to shoot on the Konopiste Estate in early November. The Estate has developed an excellent reputation over the years and I had heard many good reports from clients on the quality of sport they offered.
After a relaxing flight from Heathrow and having dealt with the (very straightforward) gun formalities in Prague airport, we all met up in the Savoy Hotel , ideally located around 25 minutes from the airport and a 20 minute walk from the city centre. This was to be our base for two nights and proved excellent - nothing was too much trouble. After an enjoyable dinner in the hotel, we left at 8am the next morning for a 40 minute ride by coach to the Konopiste Estate, which lies to the southeast of Prague and is state owned.
On arrival, we were greeted by our host, Mirak and were subsequently introduced to our friendly loaders. Having sorted out guns and cartridges (65mm and made by Hull), we then enjoyed the traditional opening ceremony which consisted of plenty of horn blowing!
The morning consisted of four drives, two were wooded drives where birds were driven over valleys and the quality was as good as most places in the UK. The other two drives were from game crops where, despite having to be selective, there was still plenty of challenging birds to choose from.
Having been fortified with ‘bullshot’ after the second drive, we stopped for a delicious lunch in the estate’s shoot lodge. This consisted of a smorgasbord of local cold meats and sausages along with a roast leg of wild boar, followed by roast duck and a traditional Czech pudding.
After lunch, we had another cracking two drives where the quality and presentation of birds was first class.
At the end of the day, the birds were beautifully laid out in a perfect grid formation which they call ‘Le Tableaux’. The bag was then counted in front of us and announced after a fanfare of horn blowing – a poignant tradition which really adds to the whole experience of shooting in this part of the world.
There was, however, one air of concern which was present throughout the day - the guns’ wives had set off in the morning from the hotel with a Tour Guide (and credit card) to see the delights of Prague. Luckily, we discovered on our return that they had all enjoyed themselves thoroughly and were so enchanted by the city that they had done little shopping!
That night, we headed into town and had a cracking dinner in a fantastic restaurant on the banks of the River Vltava. Having avoided being bombed during the Second World War, Prague is a delightful city and well worth visiting even if you’re not planning to shoot.
All in all, the trip was a great success and I can’t wait to return to experience the excitements of shooting at Konopiste and the magical city of Prague.