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I go hunting to obtain healthy, fresh meat

I see nothing wrong with children taking part in individual hunts alongside a parent or authorised guardian. I myself used to take my son when he was 10 years old to the pulpit to see what it was like. Unfortunately, he did not follow in my footsteps, but I entertain the hope that his hunting genes will come back to him, says Zenobiusz Zduniak, a hunter from Warmia who has been hunting for 30 years.

TVP WEEKLY: Hunting stirs up a lot of emotions. Many people believe that hunting should be banned and that killing animals is unethical. What is your response to such accusations?

ZENOBIUSZ ZDUNIAK: Not every hunting trip has to result in the harvesting of an animal. This is not the only thing I go to the forest for. I love watching the deer roar during the mating season, when the doe shows up and the candidates compete for her favour. Sunrises in the misty forest are beautiful.

But yet these animals you admire you also shoot at. Doesn’t the one conflict with the other? How do you reconcile the two?

We behave a bit like children. When we ask them where the milk comes from, some answer that it comes from the shop shelf and not from the cow. For me, hunting, apart from being a passion, an opportunity to commune with nature, is like a trip to the shop. I go hunting to obtain fresh meat for my own use. My wife and I use it for our needs. I believe it is the healthiest meat there is. Just compare: a pig weighs 120 kilos after three months and a wild boar weighs 40 kilos after a year. Which meat is healthier and not supported by any preparations that accelerate growth? The answer is simple. Meanwhile, very few people in Poland still want to eat wild game. There is no education, no discussion on the subject. And when it comes to hunting, we sell most of our game to the West.

Where did the idea to hunt come from for you in the first place? Is it a family tradition?

I really wanted to become a forester. I don’t know if you know, but many people of this profession, are hunters. I have a lot of friends in Warmia and in the hunting association who are foresters and are also hunters.

However, you did not become a forester.

Unfortunately, no. I applied to the forestry school in Hajnówka, but didn’t get in. To my surprise, there were more than 400 applicants for 50 places. Recruitment was on the basis of a competition of certificates and unfortunately I did not manage to get into this school. 20 years ago, when I started visiting my wife’s family in Warmia, I found out that two of my cousins had become hunters and joined a hunting club. I began to take an interest in this, talking to them and accompanying them on their individual hunts. It was then that I swallowed the bug. You asked if perhaps it was a family tradition. Yes, my grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were hunters. This tradition was only interrupted by my father. When the Second World War ended, Dad was a 16-year-old young man, but in those days, to be a hunter, you had to belong to certain organisations. It was also difficult to go on a course, buy the right weapons, etc.

Speaking of which – in communist Poland, hunting was for the chosen few, party functionaries or, as you say, you had to belong to ‘certain’ organisations. And today?

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By Marta Kawczyńska

Translated by Tomasz Krzyżanowski

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