A hunter should be always adequately prepared for the hunt. Untested physical shape, ignorance of the regulations or inappropriate equipment can spoil any adventure, especially when hunting abroad.
The preparations must take into consideration all kinds of relevant variables: the game you intend to hunt, the nature of the hunt and the hunting methods, local requirements and hunting traditions, as well as the expected weather conditions in the country you intend to visit.
In Poland, hunting can take place both during the day and at night, it can involve stalking or hunting from high seats; it can be done individually or collectively – with beaters or with dogs. Th list of useful equipment and gear will therefore depend on the specifics of each individual hunting expedition.
A foreigner arriving in Polish for hunting must carry with him the following necessary documents:
The voucher is the most important document – it is issued by the Hunting Office and delivered to hunters before their hunt by e-mail, fax or ordinary postal service. It constitutes a proof that the payment for the hunt has been made. It should be remembered that all vouchers are issued for a specific person mentioned by name, specific hunting district, specific date and length of the hunt, as well as the agreed shooting of the game. It also functions as a confirmation of the compulsory insurance. Hunting without a voucher, allowing somebody else to use your voucher, hunting in a different hunting district than the one named on the voucher or outside its period of validity – all these actions constitute violations of the provisions of Polish law. In the case of individual hunting, the hunter must also carry with him a shooting permissions issued in his name by the organiser of the hunt.
When the foreign hunter is accompanied by a dog, the animal in question has to have a European Pet Passport, including a confirmation of the dog’s up-to date vaccinations against rabies. The dog should also be marked in a way indicated in the document – with an electronic chip or a tattoo.
Hunters who intend to travel with their own weapons are obligated to have a European Firearms Pass or a permission to import hunting weapons and ammunition to Poland issued by the Polish consulate. Such permission should be returned to an employee of the Polish Border Guard when leaving the country after the hunt.
Hunters must carry all the above mentioned documents with them at all times during the hunt. They should be shown upon request to any relevant authorities, just like identity cards or passports and documents confirming one’s right to use firearms for hunting or the hunting permission obtained in one’s country of residence.
After the hunt, especially when leaving Poland, one should not forget about the copy of the hunting protocol which is drawn up at the end of the hunt. This document confirms that all the trophies and carcasses listed in it are legally owned by the hunter and it constitutes the basis for their export abroad without any additional custom and veterinary duties.
Weapons and ammunition
Be sure to consider the calibre of the weapon you want to use, bearing in mind that Polish law imposes certain restrictions and duties on all hunters. Those who hunt with rifles should remember that the minimum calibre allowed for use during hunting in Poland is 5.6 mm / .223 Win (e.g. .22, .222; regardless of the bullet energy). Smaller calibre weapons are considered to be sporting weapons and they cannot be used for hunting.
The upper limit for the calibre has not been set. When making a weapon selection, you should use common sense and seek a compromise between efficiency and your shooting comfort. It should be also remembered that in Poland there is a prohibition on the use of any equipment mounted on the weapon which reduces noise and recoil. Suppressors and compensators are only allowed if they were installed during the weapon production process and are integral parts of the barrel.
It should also be remembered that there are additional restrictions concerning the minimal bullet energy permissible for hunting for different types of animals. The general rule states that the only bullets permissible to be used for hunting are jacketed hollow points (expanding bullets) which have the bullet energy not lower than 1000 J at the distance of 100 metres from the muzzle. Hunting for deer, fallow deer, mouflon and wild boar (except piglets) requires ammunition which at the distance of 100 metres from the muzzle achieves the bullet energy at the level of 2000 J, while moose hunting requires ammunition with the energy at the level no lower than 2500 J. The use of full metal jacket bullets, keeping in mind the above-listed energy restrictions, is only allowed when hunting for predators.
Similar restrictions apply also to shotguns. Only hunting firearms with rifled barrels and hunting shotshells with pellet diameter of up to 4.5 mm can be used for hunting. In Poland there are no restrictions concerning the use of ammunition containing lead.
Hunters do not need to be told that the best course of action is to bring their own ammunition which was previously tested at a shooting range with a specific weapon for which their telescopic sights were set. Of course it is possible to visit hunting shops on site (merely on the basis of European Firearm Pass), which are located in the biggest cities of Poland, and one of the dozens of Polish Hunting Association’s shooting ranges or other such facilities belonging to hunting clubs.
The settings of telescopic sights should be checked before leaving for the hunt. It should be remembered that no telescopic sights with the magnification power larger than three can be used during collective hunts (except the collective huntings conducted from high seats) and that only such telescopic sights are permitted during the hunt which show the view in a natural light and do not process it by means of any electronic devices. It means that all rifle scopes, as well as additional devices offering thermal imagining or night vision, are forbidden. Therefore, no artificial light or any means of illuminating the target are permitted during the hunt. Only illumination of the aiming mark in a telescopic sight and telescopic sights with rangefinders are permitted. The use of artificial light (not mounted on the weapon) is only allowed to trail wounded game. What is more, a torch is a necessary part of the equipment of any hunter that hunts at night.
Binoculars and rangefinders
The ban on illuminating the target by means of telescopic sights does not apply to binoculars and any equipment used for observation. Thermal imaging and night vision devices can be therefore used as long as they are not used as telescopic sights and they are not mounted on a weapon.
Traditional binoculars are treated as a necessary equipment only for hunting at night. Such devices are useful when they offer appropriate magnification powers and light. Typical night binoculars are the ones with e.g. the following parameters: 8×56, 10×56, 9×63, etc. During the day, especially while stalking the game, such devices may prove too big and too heavy, so for daily hunts lighter binoculars are sufficient (such as: 7×42, 8×42, 10×42.). Large devices are suitable almost exclusively for the use when hunting from high seats.
Many modern telescopic sights are equipped with rangefinders. It is worth considering such options or buying an additional rangerfinder, even for estimating the maximum shooting distance which in Poland amounts to 200 metres.
Shooting sticks and supports
Shooting sticks are an important part of the hunting equipment. They are not needed when hunting from a high seat or during a collective hunt, but during a stalking hunt, a stable support for the weapon can be the key element that guarantees accuracy when shooting. All kinds of shooting sticks, tripods or supports, also the one which are permanently mounted on weapons, are permitted by law.
All hunters should wear appropriate clothing, relevant for the type of hunt and the given season. The particulars are mostly up to the hunters to decide. The only exception is the obligation to wear something bright on the outer layer of clothing during collective hunting, as it allows for a better visibility of all hunters (it could be a cap, a vest, an armband or an orange hunting hat).
Quiet, non-restrictive hunting clothes in shades of green or in special masking or warning colours and patterns work best during the hunt. It should be noted that during collective hunts or hunting from high seats, clothing should be chosen to fit current temperature conditions The type of materials used in the hunter’s clothes is especially important in the case of stalking hunts – materials which make no noise and mask natural smells should work best.
If we exclude the shooting errors, it’s the inappropriate clothing which is the most common reason for failures during hunting, which is why it’s an issue worth thinking about beforehand.
Last but not least, there are also some small important elements of hunting equipment which we often overlook or even forget about until it’s already too late. That’s why it’s worth checking before leaving for the hunt if we have a properly sharpened hunting knife with us – or preferably even two: one for skinning and one for eviscerating the animals.
It’s better to remember about such small details in advance and not to suddenly remember after a few hours of motionless waiting that one could use a stool or a seat included in the shooting stick. Appropriate preparations before the hunt will help us avoid situations in which, after many hours of waiting in a high seat, we can think of little more than having a thermal pad for seating or a pocket hand warmer, and we stop enjoying the hunt. If we think ahead, we will also avoid missing a thermos flask with warm tea or coffee, or a sleeping bag or blanket.
Hunters should also remember to pack insect repellents that work on midgets, mosquitoes and ticks. Otherwise, they will personally find out how irritating such creatures can be during spring, summer and autumn hunts, and how dangerous they often are due to the diseases they can carry.
There’s also one more element that is often forgotten – a camera with fully-charged batteries or an extra power supply. Hunting in Poland is a source of unforgettable memories and the adventures and triumphs experienced on our hunting grounds surely deserve to be preserved for posterity.