The Five Best Game Hunting Lodges

A white-tailed hoebuck, Ottawa, Canada

© Shutterstock

White-tailed-Hoebuck-hunting

A white-tailed hoebuck, Ottawa, Canada

© Shutterstock

1. Benmore Estate, Mull, Scotland

www.benmoreestate.co.uk

As if stalking red deer in Scotland wasn’t a special enough experience, head for the glorious island setting of Mull on the country’s wild west coast. Catch this place on the right day and it could be the Caribbean with those white sandy beaches, but save them for tomorrow. It’s time to climb up into the scree-covered mountains, training your binoculars across the deep glen in search of these majestic wild deer.

To make the most of the stalking and everything else this island has to offer, put yourself in the hands of the capable team on Benmore Estate. At the heart of its 32,000 acres lies Knock House, a classic highland sporting lodge just crying out for a party of like-minded friends. After dinner take to the ceilidh hall for a spot of reeling or stay in your comfort zone with snooker, cocktails and tennis (perhaps not in that order). Deer certainly aren’t the only wildlife here. Take a trip on the estate’s motor launch and you may be lucky enough to spot otters lounging on the shore and perhaps a golden eagle circling above a colony of jaunty puffins. Meanwhile the waters hide a host of sea life, including seals, dolphins, basking sharks and Minke whale.


2. Rungwa Mpera Game Reserve, Tanzania

www.rungwasafaris.com

Many people these days prefer to stalk Africa’s “Big Five” with camera rather than rifle, but responsibly managed hunting operations play a vital role in supporting local communities and tackling illegal poaching, with a net benefit to the extraordinary fauna that roams this wilderness. Cape Buffalo are a particularly thrilling prize, their docile appearance from a distance easily transformed into 1,000kg of aggressive, wily muscle.

The Rungwa Mpera Game Reserve in western Tanzania is particularly famous for the quantity and size of its buffalo, not to mention the big-maned lions who follow them. It’s no coincidence that Rungwa is also closely involved with local conservation projects, supporting nearby villages as well as the animals who coexist here.

Soak up this breath-taking landscape and its inhabitants as you fly in over the bush via light aircraft from Dar Es Salaam. The Rungwa Mpera camp offers a classic 1920s feel with plenty of modern comforts added on. Gaze across the valley from your tent, absorbing the sight and sounds of Africa as another dazzling sunset marks the close of an unbelievable day.


3. Rocky Mountain Elk Ranch, Idaho, US

www.rockymountainelkranch.net

It’s easy to believe out here in the remote wilds of Idaho that no other human has ever breathed the same air before. That’s certainly the feeling inspired by this ranch perched high in the Big Hole Mountains in the state’s south-eastern corner. You’re more likely to hear the spine-tingling bugle of a mighty elk echoing across these valleys than the voice of another human. It’s these elk and the glorious views above Wright Creek that first drew Jeff and Alana Lerwill to this spot. The spacious lodge they built here, surrounded by the ranch’s own private land, is a haven for elk hunters and indeed anyone needing to get away from it all.

It may be off-grid, but that doesn’t mean uncomfortable. A visiting massage therapist can sooth limbs weary from days stalking through the canyons and sagebrush meadow. Alternatively drive 10 minutes down the road for a restorative dip in the geothermal Green Canyon Hot Springs. This is also the right part of the world for top class fishing on the Snake River or, if you fancy more big game, there’s also the chance to hunt buffalo here. And you won’t just be taking home an impressive head to mount on the wall – the local butcher will cut up and either freeze or smoke your meat as a further memento of an unforgettable trip.


4. Glen Lyon Station, South Island, New Zealand

www.southernmountainadventures.com

These mountain dwelling ungulates may now be an endangered species in their native land, but in the Southern Alps of New Zealand they have thrived so successfully that hunting is now actively encouraged to control the population. Originally introduced to New Zealand in 1904 by the Duke of Bedford, tahr tend to occupy high mountain ground between 1,000-2,000m altitude. Tracking them requires fitness, fieldcraft and resilience.

Glen Lyon Station is a privately owned, 100,000-acre estate close to New Zealand’s highest peak, Mount Cook. In the heart of this mountain landscape sits the purpose-built Glen Lyon Hunting Hut, comfortable yet entirely in keeping with its wild surroundings. Not only a convenient base for your hunting trip, this is the place to soak up the breath-taking views after a big day, while the nearby river is a perfect spot for some relaxed trout fishing before you drag yourself back to reality. 


5. Szirak Castle, Hungary

www.kastelyszirak-hu

Driven wild boar hunting is an exhilarating, nerve-testing experience and Hungary is renowned not only for its large boar populations, but also the professionalism with which the hunt is managed. Some of the best boar habitat lies in the country’s northern, forested Cserhát Mountains, where Szirak Castle sits.

Built in 1748, this wonderful Baroque building has a long history as a hunting lodge, but since 1985 it has enjoyed a new lease of life as an upmarket hotel. Hunting expeditions are just one of many options available to guests here – extensive riding facilities and hiking routes offer alternative ways to take advantage of this scenic location. However energetically you choose to spend your day, refuel in Szirak’s atmospheric vaulted restaurant, which serves a hearty range of Hungarian cuisine. Wild boar is, of course, a firm fixture on the menu.

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