Czech Hunting Traditions

Written by Petr Kment

Category: Czech Tradition

Myslivost, or game-keeping, is a set of wildlife activities which serves to manage a population of animals within an environment’s ecological capacity, including hunting animals due to overpopulation, when natural checks, such as predators, are missing, to breeding them if they are underrepresented in the forest. Animals are hunted for population control, food, and trophies. Myslivci (gamekeepers) breed animals in captivity and then release them into nature, preserving the species.

Hunting has created many traditions and customs that are maintained in gamekeeper associations today. In addition to that, it is also an activity that is part of Czech cultural heritage. From ancient times, hunting, and later on, myslivost, was a platform for artistic creation. In addition to that, myslivci hold gamekeeper’s ball, which entail inviting the members of their gamekeepers’ association and their families and friends to a big hall where the ball is held. Animals that gamekeepers kill are served there, alongside a lot of alcohol. Normally, a tombolo is part of the event. People buy tickets for the tombolo and win various prices.

When did it originate?

In the 10th century, Czech Prince Boleslav I introduced a law, which stated that the right to hunt was limited only to the ruling family. Another important year was 1573, in which a law that was concerned with the protection of wildlife and laying down conditions for hunting was introduced. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the first game-keeping orders were established in Bohemia, such as the Order of St. Hubert, founded by Frantisek Antonin Sporck in 1695. In the 19th century, firearms such as shotguns, were adapted by gamekeepers and new techniques of hunting were introduced.

Myslivost, as we know it today, was established in The Czechoslovakia after World War II.  A law, dating to 1947, relaxed the conditions that one had to meet in order to be a myslivec. Becoming a myslivec was a lot easier, which brought a range of people less respectful of the rules and ethics of myslivosti. After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the law was slightly modified. As a result of the conditions for becoming a myslivec being too lenient, a number of species have been radically reduced in numbers. Some people exploit the rules and hunt animals they shouldn’t. Government institutions do not enforce the law as much either, resulting in unchecked exploitation and no penalization for unlawful killing of wild animals. Myslivost is not regarded positively in the Czech Republic. As a matter of fact, it is on the decline. Young Czech people do not want to engage in myslivost, as it is connected with the killing of animals. Myslivci have been trying to improve their image, but rather unsuccessfully.