European Spotlight: A hunter from Wisconsin finds plenty of game in Germany
What does it require to hunt in Germany?
An 80-hour course, sponsored by U.S. Army Europe. You learn in German about all the flora and fauna, and about the species that you normally hunt. You have to take a proficiency test in shooting, and a written and oral examination.
What kind of license do you get?
It’s a blanket license, good for three years and all species. You’ve got to purchase insurance.
With whom do you hunt?
A German guide, typically, and other Germans. You’re given permission to hunt on “reviers” (hunting reservations).
What have you killed so far in Germany?
Two red deer, one reh deer (rehwild), two gongs (European mountain goats).
What do you use to hunt?
Do you eat what you shoot?
On the reviers, they actually sell the meat to local restaurants. Hunters get to keep the trophies. I’d have to purchase the meat.
When is the rut (mating season, which coincides with hunting season)?
For red deer, it’s in September and October (one month earlier than typically in the U.S.). For the rehwild, they have their mating season in July, during the hottest part of the year, and incubate their offspring until the spring.
Tell me about German hunters.
There are lots of traditions. When you harvest an animal, it’s a very revered and special occasion. There’s a ceremony on the spot. You break off a branch from the nearest tree, wipe it in the animal’s blood, and the hunter puts the branch in the right side of his hat. You take another branch, wipe it in the blood, and put it in the animal’s mouth as the last meal for that animal.
Afterward, you have all the animals laid out that were killed by the hunting party. You play hunting songs on a horn. There’s a different song for each type of animal. They lay out the animals in a hierarchy — red deer, Schwarzwild (wild pig), rehwild, fox, rabbit — usually the largest to the smallest. Once the songs are over, they call up each hunter who has been successful, and the hunter is recognized before his peers. Then the hunters sing more songs and drink schnapps, eat, things like that.
Do you have any advice for people who might be interested in hunting in Germany?
Do it, and don’t wait. We’re fortunate enough to be living in a country that offers so much. The longer you wait, the shorter time you have to actually get out and go hunting and get into the culture and mix with the German people.
Interview by Charlie Coon.
Air Force Capt. Michael Zuhlsdorf
Title: Hunter, from Tomah, Wis.
Day job: Deputy engineering flight commander for the 52nd Civil Engineering Squadron in Spangdahlem, Germany.
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