By Kate Harrold
THIS HUNTRESS is bombarded with DEATH THREATS from trolls who say she should be hunted down like her animals.
Forest engineer, Petra Krchňavá (31) from Vinica, Slovakia, has been hunting for over 13 years – this passion traversing several generations of her family. Having first been introduced to the activity by her father, Peter (56), when she was six, hunting has become more than just a hobby for Petra. It’s become a lifestyle.
Hunting has never been about the kill for Petra. Instead, she appreciates the sunrise, the dawn mist, the morning birdsong, and the time she gets to spend observing the animals. In fact, the welfare of the animals is Petra’s number one priority.
Petra has spent several thousand pounds contributing to conservation efforts. This money has been spent on feeding wild animals – which costs roughly £1800 (€2000) a fortnight – providing medicine, building lakes to counteract habitat destruction, embarking on litter pick-ups, and running educational programmes for young children.
Just last year, Petra and her father harvested a fallow deer that they’d been watching in their local hunting grounds for over nine years. It was only when this deer had passed on his genetic material that conservation efforts deemed him safe to hunt.
Hunting has allowed Petra’s family to become self-sufficient in their meat consumption. Every element of the animal is used leaving next to no waste. Despite this, Petra has faced several death threats online with online trolls commenting ‘I hope you die like that animal,’ and ‘I wish you’d shoot each other.’
This isn’t the only challenge Petra has faced. During a hunt in 2019, a fellow hunter standing just 87 yards away from Petra was accidentally shot and died almost immediately. The horrifying scene, which echoed the sentiments of Petra’s online trolls, tested her strength and resolve.
For some time, Petra found it difficult to love hunting in the same way she had previously. However, her determination to protect animals for future generations prevailed and she continues to hunt to conserve and manage game numbers.
“Hunting is a way of life and a tradition in my family. We adapt our lives to fit alongside the hunting season,” Petra said.
“Hunting is never just about the hunt. There’s so much time, energy, and care that goes into it but most people don’t realise this.
“People have wished me the same death as the animals I’ve harvested. People think we kill animals for fun which is not the case at all.
“I’ve been told ‘I hope you die like that animal,’ and ‘I wish you’d shoot each other.’
“They don’t see that I feed the animals to make sure they survive the winter. I distribute drinking water in summer and build feeding facilities. We dig lakes, give them medicine, save young and other injured animals, and organise waste collection outings.
“We teach children in schools and run educational summer camps. I’ve spent thousands of my own euros contributing to these efforts.
“Last year, me and my father harvested a nine-year-old fallow deer. We’d watched him grow up and when he’d handed over his genetic material, it was safe to hunt him.
“Hunters love nature – and hunting has been a way of life for thousands of years. The management of game numbers and sexual composition preserves the herd for future generations. We care and protect these beasts with humility.
“In fact, I’m working on my own clothing collection of which the proceeds will go towards rescuing the western capercaillie – a member of the grouse family with a declining population.
“Hunting is also a dangerous hobby. I once was stood next to a fellow hunter who was accidentally shot and died. It was difficult to continue to love hunting after such a difficult experience.”
The time spent alone in nature helped to rekindle Petra’s passion. She now hopes to continue educating young people on the benefits of conservation through hunting.
“I love enjoying the early morning sunrise, the birdsong, the magic fog, the silence – all whilst watching the animals,” Petra said.
“Being alone in nature with just my thoughts always seems to make my day better. Hunting has also brought me strength, courage, and some incredible friendships.
“When we process the game meat, it’s something shared by family, friends, and our village. It’s the healthiest meat a person can eat. There are no toxic products used. I know exactly what happened to that animal.
“During the current coronavirus crisis, we’ve been able to be self-sufficient when the supermarkets were empty.
“I’ve had people reach out to me to thank me for what I do for nature. Adults sometimes ask me how we can pass this message on to young people too.
“It’s important that we preserve nature for future generations. I hope I can teach my own child this one day.”