Confession of a former hunter from Sevnica (Slovenia)
The number of animals is balanced by the nature itself, therefore hunters aren't needed
For 37 years he was a member of the hunting family from Sevnica, for 22 years a member of its administrative board and for 12 years the president of this board and of the rifle commission. In this period he killed a great deal of animals, but four years ago he decided to quit hunting for good. Rudi Ameršek from Sevnica today says that he is a converted murderer - his opinion is that killing animals is a crime. Not spending so much time aiming his barrel at game, he has more time left for his hobby and his family. In Slovenia he is known for unique hand-made vine sculptures.
What memories do you have of your first years as a member of a hunting family?
To become a hunter I had to fulfill some conditions. The president at that time said to me: If you want to become a hunter, you must have a hunting dog! He than sold me a young of his hunting dog and I had to kill my mongrel with poisonous gas. We used poisonous gas in ampoules in many cases. We usually threw such an ampoule in front of the earth and when a fox ate or bit through it, it soon died. Fox fur was very valuable at that time and sometimes I waited in the woods for my prey the whole night. Today I am ashamed for killing animals in the past.
What happened that made you quit murdering animals?
My children from the second marriage and my present wife Slavka kept telling me for years that killing animals isn't ethical. At last they even forebode me to bring shot animals home. That was a shock for me. Every enthusiastic hunter is proud of his prey and wants to show it. I used to do that too. As I couldn't bring killed animals home, my passion for hunting slowly ceased. In time I began to understand that hunting is merely passion for killing animals. Women in my family opened my heart to animals and today I can call myself a converted murderer.
Many hunters claim that they are friends of the animals.
Hunters and love for animals? That is ridiculous! Hunters only love animals when they are eating them. Hunters that go to the woods to feed the animals without their guns are very rare. A hunters' saying makes everything clear: A hunter without his gun is like a man without his penis on his wedding day!
Hunters claim that they kill animals to prevent their increase in number.
Nature doesn't need hunters. It is scientifically proven that there are certain mechanisms that maintain balance in nature, therefore human interference with nature isn't needed. If there are to many animals at a certain area, the number of births reduces or an illness takes care of the least resistant members of a species. Another thing has to be stressed concerning the number of animals: hunting families often report a greater number of animals at their hunting ground than the actual truth, so that the Slovenian Hunting Association can authorize a greater number of animals to be killed. I can confirm this is happening.
What is the primary hunter's motive?
Only passion for killing and selfishness. Do you know what hunters are talking about most of the time? How they shot an animal, what kind of trophies they have, which one is better, they compare each other, which hunter has a better gun, which gun does more damage to the animal, has better breakthrough... Some hunters throb with excitement and passion when they see an animal or when something moves in the bushes. This excitement can also cause accidents. Last year two accidents happened at boar hunt, when a hunter shot another hunter. I know hunters who neglected their families and farms because they preferred hunting and going to a pub after. Sometimes hunters even started a fight in a pub because someone was jealous of another one, who had shot a better animal. Even the police had to interfere. Let me tell you a story which well presents, how many hunters are addicted to killing. Years ago a member of our hunting family fell ill. I suggested to visit him on Sunday instead of going hunting. Most of the members chose hunting. Only three of us went to visit our friend. They even resented me for wanting to deprive them of their hunting pleasure (killing animals).
What about the trophies?
It is all about the most beautiful trophy. Just like other men love beautiful cars and girls. Many hunters decide to kill the most beautiful deer species, in spite of the fact that it is sometimes forbidden. They think it is worth to kill a deer that will make such a beautiful and enviable trophy, even though their hunting license might be revoked for two years.
I heard that some of the hunters visit schools and lecture to pupils. What do they talk about?
Yes, that's true. School administration invites hunters to do that. A few years ago a hunter even visited a kindergarten in Sevnica and he clearly didn't tell them that hunting is passion for killing animals. He was telling children fairytales about hunters being friends of the animals, he was convincing them, how good they are to animals, how they take care of them and how the animals need them.
Some farmers complain about wild animals eating their crops.
We didn't get a lot of such complaints. People complained more about hunters shooting their cats or loose dogs. They even shot ducks that some farmers had in creeks. Domestic animals become victims when hunters don't shoot anything in the woods.
What is your advice to hunters?
I advise them to take up a more ethical hobby or sport. They should sell their gun and buy a bike instead. Gun means killing and killing is a crime. Fishing is a crime too. At hunting an animal usually dies right away, but at fishing it is dying in terrible suffering for couple of minutes. The animals want to live together with humans and nature in harmony. In my opinion another problem is that humans interfere with nature more than they should and they are increasingly contracting living space of the animals.
What memories does his wife Slavka has of the bitter period, when Rudi was still a hunter?
Sometimes Rudi used to be away from home for the whole weekend, hunting. The hunt finished at 2 p.m., but often he afterwards went with other hunters to a pub, where they stayed till late hours. Sometimes I would come home at 10 p.m. and he would still be out. I didn't like him coming home drunk. Hunters have a saying: A real hunter comes home on Monday, if the hunt is on Sunday. In some cases alcohol led to violence at home. 15 years ago Rudi gave me fox fur that he himself tanned and he also killed the fox. My daughter told me that if I ever wore it and came to school, she would pretend not to know me. I'm against wearing animal fur too, so Rudi had to sell it. I disapprove of fishing just as much because fish suffer even more. I don't understand sport fishing, where fisherman catches a fish and then throws it back. I'm sure a fish doesn't enjoy to have a sharp hook through its mouth. I remember a teenager in botanical garden Mozirski gaj who fainted when she saw a severely damaged fish that a fisherman pulled out of the pond.
Source: Magazine Liberation of the animals, June 2006