As in previous years, our Foundation has again launched a call for applications to support internships, but this year we have tried to offer more and more opportunities for students. The call for applications was open to three different locations and different dates, so you could apply for internships in Transylvania, Bóly and Nagybajom, and for the first time this year we offered the opportunity to complete an internship in the spring, in addition to the usual summer rotation.
A student of the Hungarian University of Agricultural and Life Sciences successfully applied for the spring internship in the more than 10,000 hectares of hunting area in Transylvania, and started his two-week internship on 24 April. The following is the student's account of his first few days in the field.
Ms Diána Mészáros Gazsó practical diary Part I
By way of introduction, I would like to say a few words about the location of the exercise, which is hosted by the beautiful Transylvanian town of Kommando and the Hertán Hunting Company.
Kommando is the highest municipality in Covasna County. It is situated in the southeastern corner of Transylvania, in the Carpathian bend. The highest of its mountain ranges is the chain of the Háromszék Hills. Its vast woodlands are covered with deciduous and coniferous forests, and in parts of the region above 1 500 m they are coniferous pastures, here called wasteland. The fauna and flora of the area is made up of species typical of the mountainous area and is characterised by the typical flora of the coniferous vegetation. The fungi of the commune are extremely rich, with hundreds of species of fungi. Another gift from the forest is the forest fruit. From spring to late autumn, it is an important source of income for the people of Kommando. They include blueberries and bilberries, wild strawberries, wild blackberries and raspberries. The forests in the area have abundant wildlife. I would mention the brown bear in the first place, but there are also a good number of deer, roe deer, wild boar, wolves and foxes. You might also see a lynx or a wild cat, if you are lucky. The birdlife of the commando is also unique, you can see e.g. the pine grouse, pine grosbeak, lapwing, pine woodpecker.
As the only participant in this year's Spring Exercise, I have the great privilege of having all the attention focused on me. After just a few days, I can say that my professional knowledge has grown by an incredible amount. Both theoretical and practical. On the first day of the internship, the programme was to fill the salt pans in the area. We set off in the Polaris Ranger in the morning up the mountain as far as the road conditions allowed. One thing you need to know about this little off-road vehicle is that it can wind its way through almost any conditions. But nature could produce so much rain and water coming down from the mountain that even the little strammy vehicle couldn't cope. From there, we carried the salt in a backpack on foot.
The aim was to fill the salt marshes on Mount Koszorús. After several hours of walking, even in snowy conditions, steeply up the mountain and then down, we had sufficiently worn out our legs. But the view at the top of the mountain made up for any difficulties. We had a good chat on the way, time passed quickly. As someone who spends 9 hours a day in an office, I was amazed at this workflow and experienced first hand that it does exist, that one's work is one's favourite pastime. This is not to say that this work is easy, because it is very demanding, but being in nature all day long, admiring the landscape, recharges your soul, burnt out from the routine of everyday life.
At the end of our work, we visited a nearby bear nest (Halomi medveles), where we put corn on the spreader, hoping that the appearance of hungry bears at dusk would make it easier to assess the condition and quantity of the stock. Later that evening we went out to another den where we had the pleasure of observing some bears and a wild boar. A snipe was passing by in the air. I found it very interesting, but also scary. As this species is not found in Hungary, or at least in minimal numbers, I have not had the opportunity to observe them up close in their natural habitat, or, God forbid, even to run into them in the depths of the forest.
We got up at dawn the next day, as the programme was to watch the grouse. We took the Polaris up as close as we could to a grouse shooting site, and from there we approached the selected area on foot. While it was still dark, we took up our position on the edge of the scrub, huddled up tight against a tree. Soon enough, the crowing began, the roosters slowly descended to the ground, where we could admire the characteristic drought pose. It was an extraordinary experience.
After a short rest, we spent the rest of the day building high towers. Attila and his family chose a spot near a good deer roasting site, where we first collected the material from the forest. After some adjustments the boys nailed them together, and by the end of the day the base of the den was stable. I was less able to do my part in this process, trying to work under the boys' hands. I gave them the tools they needed, kept a tree for nailing and encouraged them. Then I'll work on the painting of the les, which will take place another day.
Unfortunately, the next day the rainy weather thwarted our plans, and the plan was to continue with the construction of the high pass. So we talked to Attila about the local hunting laws and game management activities. In the late afternoon we went out to a couple of hides to spread corn, and stayed out in one of them until late evening for observation. I had the unique experience of seeing a roe deer, a wild boar and a bear in the same field.
On Thursday it was still rainy and even snowing, but we still went to some nearby salt pans in the morning to fill them with salt, which the deer, the roe deer, eat with pleasure. In the afternoon, the programme was back to checking the spreaders and spreading corn. We spent the evening hours reading in a field called Barta. As it was an open les, I had to wrap myself up in a warm sleeping bag, because half of this month's weather is no joke.
Cover photo by Diána Mészárosné Gazsó