A French huntress sent death threats for her photos with dead animals has posed for a blood-covered selfie as she talks about a recent ‘glamorous’ shooting outing in Britain.
Johanna Clermont, 23, has received abuse online for posts featuring her trophy kills, including wild boar in the Pyrenees, antelope in South Africa and deer in Scotland.
But the law student from Perpignan also has 300,000 fans on social media and believes it is important for a woman to bring ‘glamour’ to the male-dominated sport.
She’s been targeted by the French anti-hunting lobby but remains undeterred, paying a recent visit to the Highlands where deer blood was smeared across her face in a centuries-old tradition.
And unlike the misogyny hurled at her by critics, she has never encountered sexism from men on shoots, adding that people are ‘happy’ when there is a woman in the group who knows how to hunt.
But she did stress that ‘you have to be better when you are a woman, but that’s something that is true in business too’ and in many other areas typically dominated by men.
She added: ‘It’s challenging, because you have to be better than the men, but that’s cool, because you can do it!’
Ms Clermont said that stalking deer in Scotland was a fascinating and challenging experience and that while the scenery was beautiful, saying it was ‘to die for’, she could have done without the rain.
‘As a woman, I get cold easily,’ she explained.
The stag hunt involved 20 hours of walking over two days before they got the kill and was challenging because the lack of tree cover made it difficult to move undetected by the deer.
On a previous visit to the country she joked that she had been hunting geese to defend the barley which is needed for making whisky.
She added: ‘A few years ago I went to the Orkney Islands and I went for the barley, because the geese were eating all the barley, so I went to defend the whiskey which needs the barley. So that was very cool.’
The 23-year-old, who is studying law, changed her last name when she set up all of her social media accounts, a decision which has been very fortunate in hindsight due to the death threats she gets on a daily basis.
Ms Clermont tries to eat everything that she kills – apart from vermin like foxes – and that when she has too much, she likes to share the meat with her friends and family.
Her hunting philosophy is about ‘being outside in nature and staying close to what we really are inside’, and that being a good shot is key to being a good hunter, so as to avoid any needless suffering.
She says that skinning animals and learning to cook them is ‘part of the journey’ and essential to hunting.
Being a good shot, she said, is important for two key reasons: first to ensure the animal does not suffer, secondly because ‘just like in the business world’, women need to be better than men to ‘get respect’.
Commenting on her chic social media image, Ms Clermont said that hunting itself was not glamorous but that ‘glamourous is an attitude.’
She said: ‘You can go hunting and be pretty, brush your hair, wear a bit of make up if you want, and care about your clothes. I think you can be glamorous in hunting, of course.
‘The practice in itself is not glamorous because going into nature to kill animals to eat is not glamorous, but in your attitude when you go hunting, yes of course you can be glamorous.’
As for her detractors, she said: ‘Don’t insult me!’ She added: ‘If they don’t like hunting, they don’t go hunting. And that’s it, voila!’
She described her first ever kill as ‘a very strong moment.’
‘I thought I was going to feel guilty but I didn’t feel guilty because I felt like it was something very natural,’ she said.
‘My first animal was a wild boar and it didn’t suffer, and when I saw it dead, I was like, ‘yes, OK, that’s the way life is and that’s the way nature goes’.’
Ms Clermont, who said she now owns ‘quite a few!’ guns, added: ‘It’s not a hard moment, it’s more of a moment when you think a lot about life.’
She also said that she had ‘thought a lot about what I did but it was not like sadness or something like that, it was a positive emotion. Like, if I want to eat meat, nowadays you can go to the shop and buy some pieces of meat and you do not know what is really in it.
‘When you go hunting and you kill your own food, yes, there is a kind of pleasure that you feel.’ She said that it was about being immersed in nature and being in control of where your food comes from, adding: ‘It’s natural, organic. And it tastes different!’
Discussing whether or not younger hunters are different to older generations, Ms Clermont said that they are basically the same but the new generation is more comfortable sharing stories and images of their experiences online and communicating with other people.
She said: ‘I think the younger generation is more sensitive to communication and the image you spread on social media.’
She added that people were more comfortable and less secretive about discussing their passion and that there are more women hunters nowadays too.
Ms Clermont enjoys ‘many different kinds of hunting. I like small game hunting, I like big game hunting, I like duck hunting, partridge hunting, wild boar hunting, driven hunts, stalking… So I have to own one type of weapon per kind of hunt, to be appropriate. But yes, I like firearms, definitely!’
She confessed that while shotguns were always ‘fun’, she takes her performance as a hunter very seriously and therefore prefers to shoot with a ‘stalking rifle with a scope’.
Asked what advice she had for people who were not hunters but who were interested in finding out more about it, Ms Clermont said it was important to make friends who are hunters and join a community because there is so much to take on board. Being part of a group is a great way to learn all the rules, she said.