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Hunting in the Latvian forests

By Inese Timuka. 25.09.2009

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One hundred kilograms of wild boar attached to a vicious snout and two 20 cm tusks. It’s just one beast that lures hunters from Scandinavia, Germany, Finland, Spain and elsewhere to Latvia’s deep, dark forests.

Latvia has deep-rooted hunting traditions. Not so long ago hunting was prohibited, but today thousands of hunters in Latvia consider it as a sport, hobby, profession and even a way of life.
Hunting is not all about shooting to boost a man’s ego like a chest-beating caveman; it’s more about enjoying nature and the things it has to offer. Beasts that few Europeans can find – and fewer can hunt – in their own lands abound to the point of being a nuisance in the Latvian countryside. And this is where the hunters come in. If you are yet unable to set yourself in this frame of mind, we suggest you read no further. To shoot is only the final touch – it’s the tip of the iceberg. Around 50 percent of Latvia is covered by forests and versatile Latvian
fauna counts 62 species of mammals and 223 kinds of birds that nest here.

There are still natural predators, such as wolves and lynx, which many countries no longer have. “Hunters are the single group in Latvia whose interest is to limit factors that can offset the balance between animals and their surrounding nature. For example, we have triple the number of beavers at the moment,” Mâris Liopa explains. He is the head of the forest management company Hansa Silvesters Ltd, and he has been organizing hunting excursions in Latvia since 2001. He named an impressive number of species indigenous to Latvia and hunted by its people: wild boar, moose, roe deer, lynx, cock-capercaillie, and wild duck are just few.

Every year hunters from Germany, Spain, Belgium, Sweden and other countries pay 3- or 4-day hunting trips to Latvia’s forests, wetlands and countryside. “Hunters from Western Europe are really interested in moose,” Liopa said. “Interestingly, it has remained as primitive as it was millions years ago.”
His company organizes hunting games in the eastern part of Latvia, both for individuals and for groups of up to ten people, in an area of 8,400 hectares with seven different plots named after animals – like bear and moose. Besides the forest there’s also a beautiful lake for fishing.

Into the woods
In Latvia, it is possible to hunt almost all year long, depending on the hunting season for a certain animal. Periods of high hunting activity are followed by quieter seasons, for instance in spring. The peak of the season is somewhere in late October, when hunting for most of the species opens up. There are different methods of hunting as well: stand, still and driven hunting. In stand hunting, a hunter usually sits on a high seat or a tower with a clear view of the surrounding areas.
Still hunting is a technique in which a hunter moves slowly and deliberately through prime game territory, stopping regularly to watch and listen; this is mostly used for hunting roe bucks or red deer and moose during rut.
Driven hunting is practiced in a group, when the hunters are waiting in previously appointed places, while other beaters with or without hunting dogs comb a definite forest area, disturbing the game and driving it towards the hunters.
“We have our own game management with our manager and two gamekeepers. We also cooperate with other hunting societies in cases we want to organize driven hunting.”

To describe an ideal autumn hunting day, Liopa gave us example: “Let’s say we start the day at 7am, head out for about two hunting sessions, take a break for lunch, then another two hunting sessions until dark when we head home to the guest house and spend the evening in the sauna telling stories.”
According to Mâris, hunting is leisure and relaxation. He has noticed people who are obsessed about killing an animal at any price – but usually they go out of the wood empty-handed.

Your own equipment
It is not forbidden now to lend a hunting weapons to clients coming from Europen Union countries if they can provide valid EU gun passport. They also need to provide copies of certain documents and the company arranges everything internally to get them the local hunting licenses and customs papers.

Of course there are limits. For obvious reasons the European Union has imposed a strict quota on the number of each species that can be hunted annually in the Baltics. EU law has strictly regulated the hunting quota of those species whose existence is threatened, like wolves and lynx. As far as the threat of species depletion goes, this is not yet a problem with Latvia’s most popular animals for hunting. For example, the number of wild boar in the country is multiplying annually. The proliferation of this species is even becoming a threat to local farmers’ crops as the pesky wild boar, with their powerful tusks, hooves, and snout, can do a great deal of harvest damage.

If you ask a passionate hunter, “What do you do with the hunt?” there’s a big chance he would enthusiastically reply “Cook it, of course!” Usually this is done on the spot, but it’s also possible to take it back to Riga. There are special fees for shipping your trophy abroad, depending on the size and species of the animal. However, it is also possible to taxidermy an animal if the client wishes, for an additional price.

Every hunt is memorable. Each time you go out, you will never have a hunting experience that equals another, because you always behave differently and the game always behaves differently. Whether a hunter brings home the Baltics’ biggest moose, the scrawniest pond duck, or a broken leg, he will surely have a story to tell after spending a night in the wild with Latvia’s lurking beasts.

In the “bag”
A list of some things not to forget:

• Your own shotgun with a EU license or any document proving your legal ownership;

• All necessary documentation;

• Moisture-proof clothing – remember, the Baltic summer is someone else’s winter;

• Personal medicaments, for example for blood pressure;

• Encephalitis vaccine – it hurts only as much as a mosquito
bite, yet it might save your life;

• Photo camera – even if you don’t win a trophy, wonderful photos are guaranteed.

Linna 28.09.2009 15:17

Photos are way too good.


Michale 09.10.2009 12:44

Who offers those tours? Name, phone, email?


žILVINAS 06.01.2010 10:47

Kas suteikia šiuos turus? Name, phone, email? Vardas, pavardė, telefonas, elektroninio pašto?


thomas leion 10.08.2010 18:57

please send more information to


Finotti Simone 29.03.2011 19:05

we are a group of italian hunters interested in a hunting holiday for next auctumn. Could you help us? my em is


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