I met my interviewee József Nagy – a professional hunter – at his home, which house shows in general that a hunter is living there with its typical trophies. We had a very good chat about his profession, his hunting trips and the current wildlife situation in Hungary. I chose these topics because they are not really talked about in the media, yet I believe that they are very interesting topics and should be discussed more.
Q: So, why did you choose hunting as your profession?
A: I got interested in hunting as a child and after that, my passion about this profession had been constantly growing. At the end, this was what defined my career choice.
Q: How do people react when they hear that someone is a professional hunter?
A: People do not react to the professional hunters personally, rather to the profession. In the common knowledge, hunting is not very well recognized and loved by people because people only want to see the fact that the hunters kill poor animals. So, these people need to be convinced that hunting is actually much more than that.
Q: Did you have your biggest success as a professional or as a hobby hunter?
A: I consider my biggest success the wild boar garden that I could create with my colleges as I had planned and the garden has been successfully operating with huge economical benefits since it had been built.
Q: From where did the wild boar garden idea come? Was it a governmental or your own project? And what is it good for?
A: One of the oldest professions is hunting; although, it does not mean that the only goal of the hunters was to kill the animals. Even in the early centuries, people started to create gardens for animals in order to be able to admire the wild animals. The wild boar garden was created because of economical reasons. On the one hand, it allowed us to decrease the damage that the wild animals – such as wild boars or deer – cause on the forest lands or on the infields. On the other hand, it is a very excellent place for hunting because it offers the opportunity to organize big place-setting hunts for paying hobby hunters, which brings a lot of money to the whole hunting association.
Q: Now, I would like to ask you about you, as a hobby hunter, too. However, firstly, what do you think, is it different to go hunting as a hobby hunter and as a professional hunter?
A: Yes, it is completely different. The hobby hunters’ goal is to kill the animals and the goal of the professional hunters is wildlife management.
Q: What were your most memorable hunting trip destinations? Why did you choose those places as your destinations?
A: Definitely Canada and Kyrgyzstan. If I go on a hunting trip, my aim is to get to know unknowns lands, countries and people. It is not about killing an animal. Canada and Kyrgyzstan are very different countries but they are both full of wonderful places and have a huge wild animal population that cannot be found in Hungary or in the neighbouring countries.
Q: What are the living conditions during hunting trips?
A: The living conditions are very extreme. There are jungle conditions, where there is not a living soul or human property in several hundred kilometres. In Canada, I was in the Great Lakes Region and the closest human settlement was several hundred kilometres away. In the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, we had to ride a horse for more than seven hours in order to reach the base camp, which was 2700 metres above and the actual hunting happened even higher – around 4000 metres.
Q: What is the hardest task you have to face during these kinds of trips?
A: Definitely the extreme weather conditions that might change from hour to hour.
Q: Do you need to prepare physically for these trips?
A: Of course you need to prepare physically a lot for these trips. These are sometimes extreme hiking tours as well as walking trips, so you need to prepare and increase your stamina. Yet, there are some conditions that you cannot prepare for at home, such as the lack of oxygen in the mountains. In these cases, you must get acclimated before you go hunting.
Q: Did you shoot something during these trips?
A: Yes, I had the luck of shooting a black bear and two collared grouses in Canada.
Q: Do you also cook what you shoot? And do you keep trophies at home?
A: If I have the opportunity, then yes, I make a meal of what I shoot because it can be very tasty. However, I am not a usual collector of trophies. My trophies are all very unique because I am more interested in a trophy that has some interesting deformations on it, but yes, I have trophies at home on the walls.
Q: Now, we should go back to Hungary. As a professional, what do you think of the state of the wildlife in Hungary?
A: The Hungarian wildlife is Europe-wide famous because we have genetically a very fantastic wild animal staff and we also have world famous deer and fallow deer population. If we manage to cultivate properly with this, then it will benefit very seriously our economy.
Q: There are rumours that the people at Greenpeace are hostile towards hunters. Can you agree with it or not?
A: It is a hard task to define the relationship between nature and animal protection and hunting. There are two views on the matter. Firstly, there are some people who claim that hunting and nature protection are opposites. They claim that hunters are responsible for certain species to die out because their only goal is to shoot animals. On the other hand, the second view is that hunting and wildlife management is also nature protection and conservation because their goal is to protect different species.
Q: When people watch the news, they see quite a lot of news about hunting accidents. Do you think that the safety regulations are good enough?
A: In order to go hunting, you must be in compliance with the written and unwritten rules of hunting. Of course, accidents happen with these regulations too but as a hunter, you must be aware that this profession and sometimes hobby is a dangerous operation and accidents can happen.
Q: Has your life ever been in danger?
A: My life has not been in danger, but I have seen once how a wild boar started to attack one of my colleges. Fortunately we were able to stop that animal before anything bad happened but it was a close call.
Q: As a last question, let me ask you about the future of hunting in Hungary. What do you think will happen with it?
A: In my opinion, the Hungarian wildlife management is sustainable in the long term because it does not conflict with any nature protection or economical project.
Thank you for your time and for giving a very interesting insight into your thoughts and profession.
Written by Fanni Tóth