How did you get into the hunt?
Interview with a hunter
Hunting polarizes - which I can see for myself from your comments on Instagram. There are many reservations about grazing. As announced, I would like to publish an article soon on the subject of "What does the upper class wear for hunting - UK versus Alpine countries". Since I have received so many messages and inquiries about hunting from you, I decided to do an interview with a hunter in advance.
For me, hunting is sustainable. Animals that have lived properly in the wild are hunted down. Another large area of responsibility of the hunters is the care and maintenance of the native flora and fauna.
Today I am allowed to conduct an interview with Ferdinand, a passionate hunter, nature and animal rights activist from the Salzburg region.
Why becomes one hunter?
Dear Ferdinand, you have been a hunter for a long time and have agreed to give me an interview for my blog. Thanks a lot for this. How did you get into the hunt? Why did you choose to go hunting?
First of all, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to interview. As I explained in our preliminary talk, it is a topic that is very polarizing. That amazes me again and again. But that is a luxury of our time. I came to hunt quite normally through my family. It simply belongs to our family history and tradition. And since I like to eat meat, that's the most honest way for me to get my food.
Can you tell us something about the origin and history of the hunt? The hunters also have their own language or special terms. Why is that? What types of hunting are there?
The hunt is as old as humanity itself and, if you want to believe the research, is one of the reasons for the development to where we are today. Everyone knows the concept of hunters and gatherers. Over time, the hunt has evolved socially. The right to hunt was associated with the property. Woe to anyone who, as a tenant or serf, has attacked the big game of his sovereign or lord. Over the past centuries, hunting has become something of an elitist nature, which due to the lack of real estate not everyone is allowed to practice. However, the procurement of meat was vital in times of crisis. That is why there were always poachers who were more or less covered or tolerated by the population.
Language of the hunters
We hunters have our own language, which has developed historically. You can compare that to a guild language. They didn't want everyone to understand everything and even today they still use terms and idioms that only a hunter knows. But we are very open and happy to explain if someone wants to know something. It is no longer the time of the high hunt reserved for the nobility and language that is deliberately not understandable for everyone. But you know the expression when something goes wrong. That comes just as much from the hunter's language as the expression to give someone a spoon.
Different forms of hunting
If you want information about the different types of hunting, you can easily find out more about it on the Internet. But I can tell you which forms of hunting I practice myself. On the one hand, there is hide hunting, where game is ambushed on a high stand. As a further variant, I go on the prowl. That means I make use of my knowledge of my hunting area and chase the game. There is also the driven hunt, in which the game is chased out of its cover with the help of drivers and hunting dogs. However, I do not practice this hunt.
You have certainly heard a lot of criticism on the subject of hunting. For example, when my husband prepares a saddle of venison from game that he has shot himself, there are definitely people who turn away with horror. Why is that? Why do so many associate hunting with the senseless killing of poor animals for pure leisure? Hunters secure the game population and are responsible for their care and maintenance. Anyone who has ever tasted game shot in the wild will be overwhelmed by the quality of the meat. A stark contrast to meat from factory farming in meat factories.
As I said before, I think this is a luxury problem of our time. You no longer need meat to survive, and leather can now also be imitated very well. But there is another point, and that concerns the lack of information. For many, the hunt is the shooting of Bambi's mother. What few people know is that hunters make an enormous contribution to nature conservation and thus also game protection. That sounds contradictory at first. However, anyone who has to make a living from agriculture or who has already experienced damage from game will understand that well.
As you said correctly, the care and maintenance also falls into my area of responsibility. That makes up about 90% of my time in the area. I have to be informed about what is “going” in my area and how the population of each game species is. This information flows together with that of other hunters, so that an overall picture is created and nature and animal protection can take overarching measures. This happens, for example, in connection with wildlife diseases or an excess of wild boars, for example, which cause serious damage to agriculture. So I talk to the forester about browsing damage or examine damage that has occurred on a farmer's field. Incidentally, I have to pay for this damage myself.
Advantages of game hunted for pasture
Someone who likes meat appreciates the quality of game that is hunted for grazing purposes. It is low in fat, high in unsaturated fatty acids, and the animal was raised without any contact with medication. That at least for me I don't have to endure fear, rush or pain when killing, that's my highest claim and you can taste it. But I also understand vegetarians and don't tell them whether they are allowed to wear leather shoes or not, and I don't ask which ship the rice noodles or avocados traveled with.
As for the subject of factory farming: I would like to refer you to various animal welfare organizations who are successful in promoting better conditions. It is just as difficult to compare with hunting as it is with a farm breeding business.
And there we come to the further question “Can it be done without hunting”? Many critics argue that “nature regulates itself”. Is that so? Are animals fed specifically so that they can be killed?
Of course you can also do without hunting. Since the natural enemies of many animals, such as wolf, lynx and bear, are missing, humans have to intervene to regulate. At the latest when wild game diseases break out due to non-regulation, the number of accidents caused by wildlife increases massively or agriculture and forestry feel the lack of a regulator, there will be an outcry again.
The English fox hunt
We all know the old hunting paintings by English artists depicting scenes of a fox hunt. The riders are nice to look at in their hunting skirts, accompanied by dogs. In the meantime, cruel fox hunting, actually par force hunting (par force = with force), is forbidden in many countries. In a hunt, the hunt pack of dogs is accompanied by hunters on horseback. The foxes are largely killed by the dogs. More and more alternatives to this are now drag hunts, in which a pack of dogs follows an artificial track. How do you feel about fox hunting? Do foxes need to be hunted?
I hunt foxes myself, but not in the way you described. If a fox walks across the field at the right time and the game population allows it, this small game will also be shot. This is less used for the fox collar longed for by some women, but to regulate the game population.
I personally welcome the fox hunting ban in England in the manner described. I do not like the hunt and I reject it just like hunting because of the trophies.
What do you think of trophy hunting? You may remember the case of a dentist a few years ago. He shot the lion Cecil in a national park in Zimbabwe, sparking massive protests over the unethical practices of trophy hunting.
Opinions don't diverge as widely here as on other topics. You know my attitude and you also know that I respect animals. This also means that I only kill animals because of their meat or the fences. The fact that someone travels thousands of kilometers to wait for trophy animals in front of a waterhole is incomprehensible to me and has nothing to do with sustainability.
Now you always hear about the “Green Abitur”. The hunting test should be as extensive and challenging as the Matura. What can you tell us about it? How was your education
As a hunter you are a state-certified nature conservationist and therefore you have to be very knowledgeable about a very wide area. These are, for example, hunting law, animal welfare, wildlife diseases, hunting dogs, feather and hair wildlife, customs, the correct handling of the weapon and much more. I completed my training in the eastern part of Austria in Burgenland with Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, passed an examination before the public authorities and had to prove my skills in a shooting test. That is the basis before you put yourself in the hands of an experienced hunter and learn in practice. And that never stops!
The subject matter is very extensive and comparable to that of a Matura.
Hunting - one thing of Nobility
The hunt still has a touch of upper class and aristocracy. Especially in Great Britain the so-called country sports (hunting, shooting and fishing), still very strongly associated with the nobility. You can read more about this in the two articles Interview with a modern Gentleman and The British Aristocracy. You are connected to your English relatives and you hunt there too. How do you see the situation in Austria? Is the hunt still seen in better society? Can it be said that hunting is still an upper class occupation?
In my experience, all walks of life are represented in the hunt. The entry barrier is the hunting test and the opportunity to go hunting. From a purely legal point of view, nobody is excluded from the hunt anymore. However, it is the case that very many members of the nobility or former noble families hunt - which is related to the family tradition I mentioned at the beginning.
dress for hunting
What we are all particularly interested in, of course, is what you wear to hunt. Which clothes do you choose? Does it make a difference which animal you are hunting? When hunting from high seat, you wear different clothes than when you go stalking. Why is that? Are there also country-specific differences?
The clothing should fulfill its purpose and natural products are ideal for this. Depending on the weather, I put on different layers made of cotton, new wool or loden. The footwear must also be functional. In winter there are lined rubber boots and in summer, depending on the conditions, rubber boots or mountain boots. The safety aspect takes precedence over looks and that's how all my hunting friends actually dress. It is expected to adapt to local customs. Tweed is valued in England. Someone who is dressed like an English lord in Salzburg will attract negative attention and will probably not be there when the key is on. An example: When hunting ducks, you dress a little differently. Here, for example, the hunting hat is different. When duck hunting it is without a side brim, so that you have a better overview. Protection from rain is not so important here because the ducks are not allowed to take off when it rains. But this hunt again has its own customs and rules.
Dear Ferdinand, thank you very much for your exciting answers!
Dear readers, I would like to read your comments on this topic! What do you think of the hunt?
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