It’s not often that I find myself travelling to stalk…in the middle of the bird shooting season. So it was a real treat to pack away the shotgun and cartridges and head to Croatia for three days chasing chamois and mouflon through the Dinarid Mountains. The Biokovo Nature Park encompasses 196 square kilometres of the Dinarid Mountains between the Cetina and Neretva Rivers. The highest peak (1762m) is only five kilometres from the coast, the mountains rising abruptly from the sea. Incredible biodiversity (including 30 mammal species and 1500 plant species) led to the area, being set aside as Biokovo Nature Park in 1981.
The chamois stalking is strictly controlled to ensure the management and maintenance of a healthy population. And to ensure all stalkers come back in one piece. With variable weather that rivalled Scotland for changeability, completing a stalk was a real challenge. We’d spot a likely looking cluster of chamois and start stalking, only to have fog roll in. Carefully placing our feet in our guide’s recently abandoned tracks (the area is prime potholing and caving country, so the last thing you want to do is fall in a deep crevasse) the silent stalk would continue. The fog would lift and we’d be right in the midst of the herd. Nevermind being too close to take a shot – the five second of collective wits gathering (chamois and man) would result in their abrupt departure before we could mount a gun. Or the fog would lift and we’d have lost the prey completely.
Eventually, like the Canadian Mounty, we got our man. The Mediterranean sun put paid to the fog, and we were left with breathtaking views of the sea stretching out below us. The heady combination of incredible and challenging hunting and Mediterranean seaside charm makes stalking the Dalmatian coast a no-brainer. Stalking (for chamois, boar and mouflon) is available year round. As the Croats say, ‘dobra kob’ (translates roughly as the stalking equivalent of the fisherman’s ‘tight lines’).