Dream hunt: hunting birds in the high altitude Italian Alps

Hunting in Italy

Luca Benzi hunting with his Beretta shotgun in Italian Alps
Luca hunting with his Beretta Beretta shotgun in Italian Alps.

Italy is famous for art, architecture, food and wine to name a few (the list is long!) however, the country has an enviable hunting reputation through its firearms industry, the most famous of all is Beretta. Hunting in Italy has been a popular form of sport, exercise and food source since the medieval times.

Italy offers hunting choices

Luca Benzi, 37, from Northern Lombardy, is a brand ambassador for Beretta. He told all4hunters.com, “In the north of Italy, especially in the area close to my hometown, there are lots of old traditions for hunting and weapons. Bird hunting here is very popular, however, other species such as boar, deer and chamois are also favoured. With such a wide choice of hunting, we asked Luca about his favourite. “I enjoy hunting boar, pheasant and partridge with friends, but my favourite hunting is in the high mountains where I usually walk up with my dogs early in the morning. Being up on the high tops and seeing sunrise or sunset at 2000 meters is incredible, and the solitude is fantastic.”

Hunting black grouse, partridge and ptarmigan

Hunting Ptarmigan in the Alps
Hunting ptarmigan in the Alps.

Luca thrives on the challenge of hunting in wild, high altitude locations for black grouse, partridge and ptarmigan. He told us: “Since I was a child, I have had a passion for mountains and hunting. It is in my DNA because this desire to go hunting comes from a family tradition started by my grandfather and carried on by my dad. I remember the excitement of going hunting after school with my father.” 

High altitude hunting

We asked Luca about challenges of hunting in the Alps: “This style of hunting is not so easy, it is really hard and tiring, and the animals living in the Alps are very shrewd. The hunt takes place in rough environments and sometimes in adverse weather conditions. It’s not unusual to be out all day, and each hunt is unique as you explore and enjoy the unspoiled landscape.

Hunting the Alps with English Setters

Dogs make the best hunt companions. Luca told us about his hunting dogs: “I have two English Setters: Rio, a 6 year old, and 5 year old Gas. I’m going to add another dog to the team in the next year. My dogs need to be trained and in perfect fitness, so during the months before the season we organize lots of mountain training.”

Luca Benzi hunting with his two working English setters
Luca Benzi hunting with his two working English Setters. 

Shotgun and rifle choice for hunting in Italy

My favourite Beretta shotguns are Ultralight, Silverpigeon and 687 EL Gold and for the rifles my favourite brands are NSI Nobel Sport Italia, and Baschieri & Pellagri.

Fit to hunt

Luca Benzi hunting with his working English setters in the Italian Alps
Luca Benzi hunting with one of his working English setters in the Italian Alps.

Hunting in the Alps offers magnificent views, and gives the hunter a sense of freedom only found in mountains. It is not a style of hunting everyone can participate in as it requires a high degree of fitness. Luca skis in wintertime, and cycles in summer months to keep his optimum levels of hunting fitness. What is a typical day’s hunting in the Alps? “It starts at 03:30,” said Luca. “After an energy breakfast, I drive to a chosen location before dawn. I use a torch as it is still dark, and head uphill. The black grouse live above the edge of the woods at a highest point between 1600 m and 2200 m among rhododendron bushes, pine and larch forests. I climb upwards beyond 2000 m, to the stony ground inhabited by partridges and groups of Ptarmigan.”

Hunting nutrition

Climbing above 2200 m in the Alps to hunt is a huge physical workout. How does Luca sustain his hunting energy levels? “As a real Italian, I love good wine and food. When I am hunting, for lunch I usually eat bread with ham and cheese, fruits or a slice of cake: light and easy to pack in my backpack.” We asked Luca about his favourite food, he told us roasted boar with potatoes and woodcock with polenta.

Beretta Ambassador

all4hunters.com asked Luca about being a Brand Ambassador for Beretta. “Last year I started collaborating with Beretta. It’s a great opportunity and I’ve made great connections worldwide, and I like to share my experiences with the (Instagram) #Berettatribe hunters."

Luca Benzi with his two working dogs English setters
Luca with his two working dogs English Setters.
Luca Benzi Beretta Ambassador hunting in the Alps. 
Luca Benzi, a Beretta Ambassador, hunting in the Alps.

Luca's dream hunt

all4hunters.com asked Luca about his dream hunt. He told us, Hunting grouse, black grouse, and white polar partridge in Lapland is my dream hunt. I think that this is one of the best places for my type of hunt and I can only imagine the beauty of landscapes.”

Luca can be found on Instagram @alps_and_shot 

Who is our author Linda Mellor?

Linda Mellor is one of Scotland’s foremost shooting, fishing and hunting female writers and photographers. She is the product Ambassador for Venator Pro, a premier hunting company and stockist of the European brand Hillman. With a lifetime of countryside experience, Linda’s passion, enthusiasm and respect for the outdoors and hunting is explored and shared across her writing and photography. 

For more information on Linda Mellor, please visit Linda Mellor's website.

Twitter (LindaMellor) and instagram (linda_mellor).

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