Nicolae Ceaușescu was a great hunting enthusiast. After the Revolution of 1989, only in his record book, stored at Scroviștea, could be found a huge number of trophies, among which we list: 426 red deer trophies, 385 bear furs, 172 black goat trophies… The accounts of those who participated in the hunts organized for the communist leader, however, describe him as being far from what the notion of a hunter meant. In short, he shot everything that came within range of the rifle. He had no regard for any rules and had no pity for any animal.
During the communist years, but also after, there were all kinds of legends about the hunts in which Nicolae Ceaușescu and his entourage participated.
After the fall of communism, however, the first testimonies of those who participated directly in the hunts organized for the communist leader began to appear. Perhaps the most important one belongs to Vasile Crișan, forest engineer, one of the people who organized part of the communist dictator’s hunts for 25 years.
Ceaușescu and the hunt
In March 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu was elected first secretary of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party. Until then, little is known about him as a hunter. It is only known that in the period 1955-1965, as a member of the Political Bureau of the Romanian Workers’ Party, he made many trips to almost all regions of the country, with the aim of forcing the pace of collectivization of agriculture. On these occasions, the local communist bosses often invited him to hunt. Probably during this period he was inoculated with the “hunting germ”, which soon became one of his great passions.
After being elected as the leader of the communists, Ceaușescu quickly ordered a series of measures by which he could hunt unhindered in the most coveted places in the wilderness. Thus, among the first decisions he took was the establishment of the so-called “special hunting reserves”, where the best hunting funds in the country, from the Danube Delta and up to the alpine gap of the Carpathians were contained.
At the end of 1989, out of the total of 2,100 hunting funds, a number of 350, respectively 16 percent, were only at Ceaușescu’s disposal. As an area, they totaled 3,900,000 ha, of which 1,400,000 ha of forest, which represented 17 percent of the total area of the hunting fund, respectively 22 percent of the total area of forests. Of course, Ceaușescu did not hunt all these funds. Of the 350, “only” 122 were special reservations where he hunted, the rest being constituted in the so-called “protection zone”. After only one year, he banned hunting for other people in these areas as well.
How much did Nicolae Ceaușescu hunt?
There was no season in which for Nicolae Ceaușescu dozens of hunts were not organized for common deer, bears, wild boars, fallow deer, roe deer, black goats, or pheasants. The communist dictator shot everything in his rifle range, often leaving a real massacre in his wake. Vasile Crișan recounts in his memoirs, “Hunting with Ceaușescu”, one of the massacres committed by the dictator during a hunt organized in January 1987.
Then Ceaușescu shot black goats directly from the cable car going up from Bușteni to the Babele cabin.
Defying the most basic hunting rules, Ceaușescu shoots at everything black and moves on the snow. Kids, pregnant goats, young goats, sleeping or licking salt, fall under the killing fire. (…) The cable car reaches the station in the Babele Alpine Gap. Here to demonstrate his mastery of hunter, in front of the entire assistance, shoots the only raven of these heights, a bird protected by law. (…) A real adventure began after Ceaușescu left for hunting. The Salvamont Busteni team, the best in the country, set out in search of carcasses and injured goats. What HE butchered in a few tens of minutes, the brave men of the mountains recovered in two days. The famous goat cost, the friend of cable car riders and mountain rescuers, has been found. He hadn’t died. Wounded in the spine, with his back legs paralyzed, he crawled through the snow downhill, towards a cemetery known only to him. (…)”, recorded Vasile Crișan.
Nicolae Ceaușescu’s last hunt
On Sunday, December 10, 1989, Nicolae Ceaușescu would participate in the last hunt of his life. It was a pheasant hunt, organized in the Ogarca forest, within the Ghimpaţi Forestry Circle. Nicolae Ceaușescu, accompanied by Constantin Dascălescu, Emil Bobu and Gheorghe Oprea, arrived around 10:00.
“I was curious to see what he looked like and how he would behave, as it had been some time since I had seen him up close. He had changed a lot. Aged, emaciated, with a stained and bruised face, he gave you the impression of a physically exhausted man. Instead, the look was the same one I had known since 1965. He darted at you with his penetrating eyes. He was constantly looking at everyone who was near him. He was looking straight into our eyes. He was like a scared and chased man, who is looking for a refuge”, writes Vasile Crişan in his book of his memories of Ceaușescu.
Of course, Nicolae Ceaușescu was seated in the best hunting stand, and on the left and right he had Emil Bobu and Constantin Dascălescu. The same Vasile Crișan tells about how the hunt was carried out: “The hunters directed the pheasants only to one stand. Ceaușescu was shooting with both guns Purdy until he got tired. A carpet of black cartridge tubes formed in his stand Rothweill. After each chase, the shot pheasants were collected and placed at his stand. He looked at them, sometimes he even counted them, but he didn’t say a word. He kept looking sometimes at one, sometimes at another of those around him. In fact, the other guests and companions didn’t talk much either. There was a charged, oppressive atmosphere”.
After finishing the hunt, Nicolae Ceaușescu hurried to leave for Bucharest, he didn’t stop to admire the carts with pheasants and he didn’t even say hello to those who organized the game.