If you’re the kind of hunter who enjoys collecting experiences as much as trophies, a new agency called World Hunting Society may interest you (and any non-hunting travel companions). We first heard of WHS from Marina Lamprecht of Hunters Namibia, who tells us she personally used their services and has since been sending clients there with good results. Hunting Report publisher Barbara Crown was able to meet with one of the principals of WHS at the Safari Club International convention in Las Vegas, and here’s what she learned:
While WHS is fairly new (founded in 2012), the connections behind it are ancient. It began as a small booking agency for Italians wanting to hunt abroad. But Vice President Leonne Rossi di Montelera quickly realized they were uniquely positioned to offer specialized trips in Italy as well. Thanks to the three partners’ family and business connections they could access hunts for large and small game on private properties with stays in privately-owned castles and villas and personal tours otherwise unavailable to the general public. Their Italian “safaris” quickly became the mainstay of their business. They are the only hunting company in Italy that is also a fully-licensed tour operator.
Rossi comes from a long-established family (Rossi’s great, great grandfather was one of the original partners in Martini & Rossi, the sparkling wine and vermouth company) and has relationships with many of Italy’s most important and influential families. He is also the Vice President of the CIC Young Opinion Group, and is working with them to develop a hunting community on the web.
World Hunting Society offers hunts in two regions of northern Italy, three in central Italy and one in Sicily. They personally own three properties and either lease the others or have access through their personal connections. Rossi says they only work in what they consider to be the best hunting areas in Italy.
Some of the other concessions have been owned and managed by the same families for a century or more, particularly those in central Italy. For example, one of the roe deer hunting properties they offer in Umbria is home to a 15th century castle that has been owned by a single family.
But Rossi says they offer much more than “just hunts.” The same connections that allow them access to otherwise inaccessible hunting lands also allow them to offer unique, fully-customized travel experiences, immersing guests in whatever an area has to offer, including the natural landscapes, the history and the culture, cuisine (care to try truffle hunting?) and wines, fashion, art, custom firearms. They can completely tailor any trip to whatever the client is most interested in experiencing. As Rossi says, “We allow clients to feel the country, feel the people.”
Of the hunting, Rossi says, “Italy is home to a big hunting culture, although it may differ from one region to another. Most of the experiences are for free-range animals except some wild boar in Sicily.”
Chamois are found throughout the southwestern part of the Italian Alps. Since the late 19th century, Rossi’s family has owned a hunting area next to Gran Paradiso National Park, the former shooting grounds of the Italian royal family. The Rossis’ property had not been hunted since the Second World War and offers very good hunts for chamois. According to Rossi, this property produces the largest chamois trophies in Italy.
Hunting for stag during the rut is in the same areas as chamois. Hunters climb each day before sunrise to locate stags by their roaring. Then, the stalk begins. A good trophy in Italy scores around 170-180 CIC. Sometimes you may find something that is more than 200 CIC, and 210 CIC is uncommon. The red stag hunting here is not for a huge trophy but for the experience of fair chase mountain hunting in Italy.
“We used to have huge mouflon sheep populations in one area,” says Rossi, “but wolves have reduced them significantly. So success on mouflon is only 30-40%, where chamois and stag are 100%.
“There are huge populations of roe deer, so success is 100%, usually by the first day, second day if you are picky. Hunts are in the mornings and evenings, with touring planned in the middle of the day. Roe deer can be found just outside the vineyards, so you hunt the edges of the vineyards. For roe deer and wild boar, hunting can be from a high seat, with some spot-and-stalk. Driven boar (with dogs) is also an option, and there’s shooting for partridge, pheasant and ducks available.”
Accommodations can vary from a luxury lodge to a single apartment hotel in the middle of the wilderness. Personal services are of the very highest standards, and often the owners of the properties are present to receive you and treat you as their own guest.
Rossi says he spends a lot of time trying to understand what his clients (and their non-hunting spouses) are interested in experiencing so he can arrange the most fulfilling trip. He personally designs every tour and can arrange something around any interest found in Italy. For example, Rossi can arrange for private tours of the factories of Perazzi and Berreta, where you can custom order firearms, even choosing the piece of wood you want for your stock. For hunters so inclined, Rossi will handle the paperwork and export for them. For wine lovers, he arranges private tastings at small specialized wineries and premium wineries such as Barolo and Barbaresco. History buffs would enjoy the backroom tours of museums where you can view ancient Greek and Roman artifacts, or you can stay in a villa near Florence taking in works of art decorating the high ceilings above you before falling asleep in a 400-year-old bed. And culinary fans can savor the aromas of fresh spices, pressed olive oils and unearthed truffles during specialized tours.
Costs vary according to the kind of hunting, accommodations and touring you want, although Rossi does offer some prepared packages. Those can be quite reasonably priced, starting at 4,550€ for a three-day roe deer hunt, including airport pick up in Rome or Florence, accommodations and meals, a one-day tour with wine tasting and an interpreter during your stay. A similar trip for chamois starts at 5,400€ and red stag starts at 6,500€.
Rossi can be reached by phone at 011-39-349-1610-671 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website is italiansafari.com. If you hunt with them this season, please share your experience with fellow subscribers.