Hunting is still politically correct in Austria, and people buy all the gear and go out blasting the local wildlife, but it is also a trade and a profession. Animal populations are controlled, which maybe is no bad thing when you see what the cute bambis do to surburban gardens in the UK. There is an animal rights movement with the ensuing conflict, and there is also an awareness of the damage done by marauding dogs and ignorant people rescuing babies that don’t need it. I have no problem with it, I find it all a bit amusing.
HOWEVER! The other morning at work, the boss and three suitably dressed hunters (one a woman!!!) came into the bar at about 8 am, they’d probably been out for hours. They were having coffee and there was so much dialect, I of course didn’t get all of the conversation, but the bits I did had me both shocked and laughing. Firstly, it was a competition on who could drop the word shooting or shot into the conversation most often. Then it was the bragging about how many or where they had shot Gams (Chamois) or Steinbock (ibex), but what appalled me was the casual acceptance of how many shots it takes – between 4 and 5. So much for the myth of the good clean shot, I got the idea that none of them were good shots, I’m surprised that they manage to hit anything!
Then I saw the Caprcaillie (Auerhahn) they had shot somewhere locally that morning and thought that was a bit mean seeing as its breeding season, but I’ve not been able to find season dates for Austria. It reminded me of when I had visited a friends house who was a hunter, but they admitted that most of the stuffed exhibits were road kill! (Bad shots?).
Its such a culture difference here, no fox hunting since Hitler, and they actively feed foxes during the winter, I suppose they feel they are part of a population dynamic. But surely this will change the dynamics if there are more around- more chickens and lambs eaten, or does it stop them?
Then the wine came out, they started ringing around, and more incognito hunters piled in and by 10.30, they were well away, probably all on empty stomachs. It reminded me of a report in the local newspaper when a few years ago when a couple of men in Thomatal went up into a ‘Hochsitz’ (which is a platform up a tree for shooting, some are a few bits of wood hammered together, others windows and carpets). taking schnapps with them and they drank so much that they fell out and had to be airlifted to hospital…………
As I finished by shift, I wondered how long it would all go on, and is hunting another name for a drinking club and they don’t actually want to shoot anything????????