Are the worlds of computing and hunting as far apart as they seem? Find out in this interview with Jiri Kratochvil – Managing Director of the international software development company JetBrains, avid hunter and owner of a CZ 557 rifle.

Jiří Kratochvíl – Managing director of JetBrains and hunter

Can the modern world of IT and traditional hunting go together?

As a person who has been spending his life in the world of IT, I believe they can. I see the connection almost everywhere, even if many don’t realize it.  

 Let’s take a couple of the simplest examples: A lot of us use e.g. WhatsApp to communicate. Although it was released only ten years ago as a small start-up, everyone uses this application now, including hunters forcommunicating between themselves and sharing pictures of animals from their hunt. Personally, I also use Instagram and YouTube. Thanks to YouTube, I’ve learned how to blow the hunting horn. I’ll be able to blow it for the first time at an upcoming hunting event this season. I wouldn’t have been able to learn how to do it without watching the videos.

 If we dig deeper into more sophisticated technologies, digital riflescopes come to mind. These gadgets can record each shot, carry out automatic calibrations and even make adjustments according to ballistic parameters and current weather conditions. 

Do you “think IT” during actual shooting as well?

 No. IT thinking is too analytical. When shooting, one must listen to their instincts and not focus on more things at the same time. Shooting is not an IT solution.


What CZ guns do you own and why have you chosen them?

At the moment, I own 2 long guns: a CZ 557 rifle chambered for .308 Winchester cartridges and a semi-automatic variant of the vz. 58 – the CZ 858.

I bought the CZ 858 mainly for recreational shooting. I regularly go to a shooting range and take part in competitions. The reason why I went for the 58 and not, for example, an AR-15 was partly due to nostalgia.  I had this gun when I was a soldier and grew very fond of it due to its reliability and simplicity. In my opinion, the 58 and CZ 75 are true legends.

For hunting, I’ve recently acquired a new CZ 557  .308 Winchester rifle. What caught my attention was its appearance – a truly beautiful modern rifle with a traditional design. It will make any owner proud at hunts. In this respect, I am quite conservative. I like tradition and definitely think it has its place in hunting. But the fact that this gun suits my style of shooting has, of course, also played a role in my decision. The overall design and functionality result in perfect ergonomics.   

What are the advantages of CZ guns regarding reliability, ergonomics, maintenance, etc.?

Without a doubt, the current CZ portfolio has no bad guns. The company produces reliable and time-proven hunting firearms that reflect the long tradition of this world-renowned brand.

What are the needs of a modern-day hunter?

Today’s hunters must have exactly the same skills as their forefathers, which means being familiar with their hunting grounds and the animals. Basically, the needs of modern hunters are no different than those from long ago. Obviously, the guns, ammunition and optics are on a completely different level, as far as technology is concerned. But what good would technology be if we didn’t understand animal behavior and know how to avoid startling them during a hunt.

Where hunting and gamekeeping are concerned, I like the unique traditionalism we strive to preserve for future generations. In our family, I draw on wisdom from the long tradition of gamekeepers on my wife’s side of the family. I try to pass on this exceptional knowledge to my children, especially during outings in the wild, where they learn how to be independent.

Is the tradition of hunting and gamekeeping held in high esteem in the Czech Republic?

When reading through comments on social media, I get the feeling that hunters are public enemy number one. However, we should admit that this undeserved bad reputation is partly our fault, as it was primarily formed during the communist regime. 

 Today, it is practically impossible to see a drunk hunter at a hunt. This is due, in part, to regular police checks that I certainly welcome. However, the stereotypical image of hunters is deeply rooted in our society, even though it hasn’t been true for a long time. 

 Similarly, we don’t get much sympathy due to the fact that the public tends to see hunters as people who kill animals in the wild, and let’s be honest, the dumb creatures look so cute…  But this is another common view that is quite distorted. As a matter of principle, hunters cannot, and do not, want to shoot at everything that moves. On the contrary, we strive to maintain an optimal population of healthy game on our hunting grounds: weaker game is hunted regularly in order to maintain a healthy gene pool for the future! The thing is that if we didn’t do that, there would definitely be a gradual loss of the animals that remain in a relatively small area. 

 Sadly, the systematic and demanding work of hunters and gamekeepers is not communicated to the public. Few people realize that shooting game is in fact the least common activity we carry out. The public does not see the hundreds of hours spent looking after the animals – building hayracks, providing supplemental food in the winter, bringing water to dry areas during the summer, etc.

How do hunts differ from the past with regard to safety?

I would say that there is a fundamental difference, even though news headlines may say otherwise. The most common complaint is drinking alcohol during a hunt. I can honestly say that I have never ever seen a hunter who would drink alcohol before or during a hunt. Not only do the police often come to these events and give everyone mandatory breath analysis, but if I ever noticed anyone drinking alcohol, I would not take part in that hunt. And I believe that I’m not the only one who feels that way. Hunters do follow a code of ethics.

 In general, safety is an important topic and this is good news for hunters and gamekeepers. We use powerful guns and have a lot of people moving about in a relatively small area. What’s more, there is not much time between shots, so the risk of injury can be very high. On the other hand, there is no shame, and it is even recommended, to wear reflective clothing.Even dogs wear it! 

 Each tragedy deeply affects the entire hunting community. The human factor and risk of shooting accidents can never be completely eliminated. We must remember that the people we meet at a hunts are our friends and that we would like to see them remain uninjured!

What new trends do you see in hunting?

The biggest trend is digital riflescopes with night vision. It was something we could only dream of in the past, but advances in technology have made such equipment much more accessible to the wider public.

And then it would have to be the arrival of modern materials, such asgun supports. Something that not so long ago nobody wanted to carry around, since it was cumbersome and heavy, is now light, strong and fits into just about any pocket. It’s very useful to have on a hunt.

How do you motivate yourself to improve your shooting skills?

I enjoy shooting and spend a lot of time at the shooting range. I always say that for me, shooting is a form of meditation, as well as relaxation after a day spent in my demanding role as the Director of a company.

Another aspect is the fact that if I want to shoot guns, I must be able to handle them properly, which would be impossible without training and practice. This is crucial for guaranteeing safety.

What are you doing to ensure gun safety?

Nothing special.  I don’t point my gun at anything I don’t intend to shoot. I keep my fingers away from the trigger at all times. And since I have children, my gun is always kept in a safe at home, even if it’s only for several minutes at a time. 

There is an overpopulation of hoofed game and wild boar in our forests, do you also hunt these animals?

Of course. Otherwise, it wouldn’t work. We need to understand that in the Czech Republic, these animals have no natural enemies, not even the wolf, even though the media tries to present this case.

 I would also tread carefully with the term overpopulation and the claim that hunters and gamekeepers don’t know how to control it.  There was an outbreak of African swine fever not so long ago that spread across Europe. The Czech Republic was the only European country to deal with this problem effectively and it was us, the hunters, who greatly contributed to its success.

 Can you tempt someone to become a hunter in three sentences?

One sentence will be enough: Come with me to the forest and I’ll show you what a beautiful hobby hunting can be…