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MEETING WITH HISTORY


(Marking the 130th anniversary of the founding of the Croatian Society for the Promotion of Hunting and Fishing 1881-2011)
 

Among numerous hunting societies and associations in Croatia, Our Beautiful, the oldest of them is also the most prominent one. It is "The First Croatian Hunting Society for the Promotion of Hunting and Fishing" (orig. Prvo hrvatsko lovačko društvo za gojenje lova i ribarstva) with its headquarters in Gajeva Street in Zagreb. Without a doubt, the Society represents a trail-blazing work in promotion of these two sporting and/or industrial branches.

The Purpose of Founding the Society

Towards the middle of the 19th century, both military and political events occurring on our territories had a tremendous, often crucial, influence on the development of the new social relations within the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1848, the abolition of the feudal system, and the cancellation of the exclusive right of only the privileged to hunt, resulted in the devastation of game by poaching. To protect both the hunting grounds and the game, progressive huntsmen got organized by way of getting together via newly founded hunting societies. The first such hunting organization in our country started in Zagreb in 1881 and was approved by the Royal National Government on December 22, 1881 under the name of "The Society for the Protection of Hunting in the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia" (orig. Družtvo za obranu lova u Kraljevini Hrvatskoj i Slavoniji). This laid the basis for future hunting as a regulated and organized activity as well as for the development of the Hunting Society in Croatia. The aims of the Society, then headed by the first president, Earl Gjuro Jelačić, Jr., and the first secretary, Dr. Josip Fon, were:

  • to organize hunting as an activity based on social, ethical and civilized principles,
  • to regulate both the hunt and the kill by introducing the appropriate Bill on open and close hunting seasons,
  • to play an active role in protecting the game from poaching,
  • to organize the game-keeping and game-protecting services, and to propose appropriate rules and regulations as Bills to be passed into laws by the Parliament,
  • to encourage the introduction of healthy game into the hunting grounds,
  • to introduce and organize hunting kynology,
  • to support the building of the hunting lodges and outhouses, and
  • to educate and train hunters in the handling of guns by means of organized rifle shooting.

Hunter's and Fisherman's Herald

Ten years later, the Society changed its name into "The First Common Croatian Society for the Promotion of Hunting and Fishing" (orig. Prvo opće hrvatsko družtvo za gojenje lova i ribarstva), which only a year later, namely in 1892, started to print the Society's paper at C. Albrecht's Printing in Zagreb. Thus the Society's monthly, called "The Herald of the First Common Croatian Society for the Promotion of Hunting and Fishing", started its publication and, at that time, represented the first technical journal written in the Croatian language. As time went on, the paper managed to play a crucial role in the way the new legislation on hunting would be enacted in Croatia while, at the same time, the Society was using the paper to present its activities and its achievements in written form.

Hunting Laws

In 1883, "The Society for the Protection of Hunting in the Kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia" came up with the basis for a Hunting Bill which it proposed to be enacted by the Royal National Government. From then on, the Society continued to play an active role in the making and passing of the hunting laws in Croatia.

National Stamp

In 1919, the Society changed its name again, and this time into "The Croatian Society for the Promotion of Hunting and Fishing" (orig. Hrvatsko društvo za gajenje lova i ribarstva). The newly published Rules re-emphasized the aims that had already been set by the Society's founding fathers. However, it should be noted that this time the Society recognized its female members as equal and in no way discriminated against, which was also regulated by the rules of the Society, and which, at that time, was a rather progressive decision.

National Hunting Exhibitions

In 1899, the Society organized its First National Hunting Exhibition, which was to be repeated in the years that followed.

Kynology

Since its very beginning, the Society has always paid significant attention to kynology, taking the stand that proper hunting required proper, thoroughbred hunting dogs. In order to stimulate the breeding and the procurement of such dogs, the Society sponsored and organized hound shows. Thus, in 1906, the Society organized its First Hound Show in Zagreb, and also depicted it on the pages of "Vjesnik". Looking from a historical point of view, it could very well be concluded that such activities enabled the Society to become the founder of the hunting kynology in Croatia, yielding from its ranks the first executives, judges and beaters, as well as starting and organizing this kind of a controlled and properly registered dog breeding (1897).

Shooting Club

No less an achievement was the Society's pioneering role in promoting the hunting riflery through the founding of the "Shooting Club" (orig. Streljački klub) in 1913. In this way, the Society benefited hunting enormously since the moving target shooting practice was considered to be the basic training for the kill. Thus, an exceptionally attractive sport had been introduced into the programme, bringing along its competitive side as well, which, in its turn, satisfied both the hunters' interests even in the close seasons and the interests of the non-hunting laymen interested in competing with other men of similar interests. On July 10, 1913, the Society's Management Committee, with Earl Miroslav Kulmer in the chair, accepted and approved the Rules which had been proposed by Dr. Milovan Zoričić and Hinko Würth, the members of the Committee and, in addition, the members of the Croatian Sporting Federation (orig. Hrvatski športski savez). The latter fact led to the move on the part of the Croatian Academic Sporting Club (orig. Hrvatski akademski športski klub – HAŠK) in Zagreb to place a part of its sports ground in Maksimir at the disposal of the Society, so that the Society could use it as its future rifle range. Shooting practices took place at 2:00 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays, the fee being 10 fillers, while the shooting contests were organized on Sundays. Again, it should be noted that these first contests also included women, namely the women who were the members of the Club and who also took active part in the shooting events. Those women, the members of the Club, were Ada Vranyczani and Vera Spun-Strižić, who showed remarkable skills in handling guns and shooting at targets.

One year later, the rifle range was moved to the archdiocesan gardens, beside the forester's lodge. This new location was handed over to the Society by Archbishop Dr. Antun Bauer himself, who, on his part, acted at the urging of Earl Bombelles.

In 1926, the "Federal Shooting Company" (orig. Savezna streljačka družina) was founded in Zagreb and was immediately joined by the members from Gajeva Street, who wanted to be able to carry out their shooting practices, using both the pellet guns and the shotguns, on a regular basis and in an organized fashion. By joining the Company, they could use a separate shooting range that the Company occupied within the military artillery range in Maksimir (nowadays, located at Oboj).

After World War II, the members from Gajeva Street first started to use the old shooting range situated near the brickyard in Kustošija and continued to do so all the way to 1953, when they moved, largely thanks to their own efforts. By virtue of their commitment and personal involvement in the project, the building of the first Olympic shooting range was undertaken. This led to the construction of the new shooting range in Ravnice, near the weather reporting station in Maksimir. The new range was equipped with 15 built-in launchers for trap-shooting. The Federation of the Hunting Societies of Croatia (orig. Savez lovačkih društava Hrvatske) and the Shooting Federation of the City of Zagreb (orig. Streljački savez grada Zagreba) provided the necessary funds. In the decades to come, the new structure would be used for all major sporting events and contests ranging from the City to the Republic, to the State championships.

Society's Premises

Ever since 1935, the Society has been occupying the present-day premises at 6 Gajeva Street in Zagreb, which were first rented, but were then purchased as a permanent property after the War, in 1956. The total space is divided into four rooms while the outer corridor leads into the front hall (atrium). On the left-hand side of the hall, there is a records room (archivum) while, if one goes straight ahead, there is a secretariat or a writing-office (scriptorium), where administrative work is being done today. An ample library (bibliotheca) is at the disposal of all the members of the Society, and they can read the books on the premises or borrow them for reading at home. The library is situated partly in the secretariat, and partly in the adjacent room intended for the counting of the assembly ballot papers (diribitorium) and in which, even today, the regular meetings of the members of the Society are held every Friday. The room also leads into another room, namely into the conference room – council-chamber (aula magna senatorum) where the annual assembly meetings, lectures, courses and Management Committee's sessions are being held. This is where part of the library materials, marked as periodicals, is stored. The room is decorated with period furniture, with hunting and sporting trophies, with diplomas and visual artists' paintings, as well as with numerous other memorabilia.

Founding of the Federation of the Hunting Societies of Croatia and Slavonia

In 1925, the Society initiated and convened the principal conference of all the delegates/representatives of all the hunting societies in Croatia and Slavonia. The conference was held in Zagreb and was used to hammer out an agreement on the Rules by which all the societies should act and function, as well as to elect the management of the "Federation of the Hunting Societies of Croatia and Slavonia" (orig. Savez lovačkih društava Hrvatske i Slavonije). The occasion was also used for the election of the first president and the first secretary of the Federation, who turned out to be our own esteemed members. As a result, Dr. Milovan Zoričić was elected first president, while Ivo Čeović, grad. eng., became the Federation's first secretary. The Society, as already mentioned, played a leading, and often crucial, role in proposing and passing of the hunting bills and laws in our country. In this way, numerous duties concerning the hunting sports/industry in Croatia were transferred onto the Federation which, in its turn, continued to focus on carrying out and putting into effect all the conclusions arrived at, and the agreements reached and issued at the Federation's conferences. It should be noted that the Federation has been carrying out its duties conscientiously and responsibly ever since.

During World War II, the activities of the members from Gajeva Street were dying down, but, in spite of all the harshness of the conditions of the war in the country, the Society continued to publish its Hunter's Herald which, after the War, the Society handed over, by mutual agreement and free of charge, to the newly founded Hunting Federation of Croatia (orig. Lovački savez Hrvatske – LSH).

Hunting Courses

Ever since 1951, based on a mutual agreement between the Society and the Hunting Federation of Croatia (LSH), the Society has been engaged in organizing the hunting courses and printing the appropriate mimeographed notes and course materials for the course participants and trainees, so that the course beginners would find it easier to prepare for the hunting exam. The classes and lectures were, and still are, organized in two sets of lectures delivered twice a year, every year – namely, in the spring and in the fall. The exam takes place in front of a board of lecturers, also the members from Gajeva Street. From 1951 to 1981, the courses were attended by 3,483 course participants. In the course of time, the beginners' mimeographed notes have developed into a textbook called "The Introduction into Hunting" (orig. Uvod u lovstvo), the book which has already gone through several editions. Today, this textbook represents one of the primary tools that the course participants use in preparation for the hunting exams recognized in our country.

It should also be pointed out that the Society has had one aim and one aim only ever since it was founded so many years ago. This has been to serve for general good of society, namely to carry out useful activities which would improve the ways in which the public should view the promotion of the national hunting as a purposeful and nationally beneficial branch of sports/industry. The Society has never had a hunting ground of its own and has never made it possible for its members to hunt in any other society's hunting grounds or anybody else's private ground. The Society's members, who have always represented the cream of Croatian intellectual society, have always acted out of their own altruistic tendencies, doing voluntary work of their own accord, spreading and supporting ideas, acting out of concern and understanding of wildlife and the need for its protection. They have always worked and continue to work for the benefit of the general advancement and promotion of hunting, of kynology, of rifle shooting as a shooting sport, and of the continuation of the hunting publications. It is such work and dedication that have earned numerous awards, medals and certificates for the Society, the most important of which would be the following: "Order of Merit for the People with Silver Rays" (orig. Orden zasluga za narod sa srebrnim zracima), awarded by the Decree of the Presidency of the Federative Peoples' Republic of Yugoslavia (orig. Ukaz Predsjedništva Federativne narodne republike Jugoslavije – FNRJ), the "Gold Medal" (orig. Zlatni orden") for the hunting merits of the Hunting Federation of Yugoslavia (orig. Lovački savez Jugoslavije - LSJ), the "Hunting Decoration of the Ist Order" for the Hunting Federation of Croatia (orig. Lovački savez Hrvatske – LSH). Numerous other medals and certificates were issued by the rest of the former Yugoslav republics, but some were also awarded by the foreign states.

Today, the Croatian Society for the Promotion of Hunting and Fishing, with its headquarters still in Gajeva Street in Zagreb, accounts for 700 members.

Celebrating the 130th anniversary of the Society's existence and activity, we have a reason to be proud and to feel proud, because our anniversary is, at the same time, the anniversary, the jubilee of organized and controlled hunting, of hunting in its totality, hunting on our soil, in our Croatia.

Composed and drawn up by: Dr. Miljenko Zečević

 

Contact

Croatian Society for the Promotion of Hunting and Fishing

10000 ZAGREB, Gajeva 6
PHONE./FAX: 01 481 1541 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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