The 17th European deer calling championship kicks off in Belarus, with contestants trying to imitate deer mating calls.
STORY: Hunters from nine European countries gathered in Belarus for the 17th European deer calling championship. The contest was taking place at "Belovezhskaya Pushcha" national park southwest of the capital Minsk. Twenty-seven participants of the championship from Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, Chezh Republic, Germany and France competed in imitating sounds a deer makes in various situations: before or after mating, after winning a fight with a rival stag, or when getting ready for action. The championship organizer Yuri Shumsky considers the stag calling not just a hunter's skill but a real art. "At first you study behavioral habits of a bird or an animal and imitate sounds they make in order to bring them closer, to photograph or to capture this animal. This ability to spot, to imitate, to outsmart an animal - this is real art in our opinion and in the opinion of the people gathered here," Shumsky said. The contest participants used various tools from a sea shell to metal or plastic pipes to simulate the roar of a stag during mating season. A practice to imitate stag grunts goes back centuries according to judges. The judging panel was traditionally seated away from the stage and behind a screen so they could not see the competitors and were able to fully concentrate on the sounds they made. The skills are still used by modern farmers when they want to calm down an anxious stag or by hunters trying to attract a deer. Deer callers from Poland got the first and the second prizes, the third one went to a Czech contestant.