More years ago than I care to count up, I was a soldier in the Army and was stationed in Germany. I love to hunt, and I really love the thrill of hunting big game, so I figured as long as I was there, I would learn what I could about sport hunting in that country. I was about to discover hunting in an entirely new way!
HISTORY OF THE HUNT
Hunting in Germany is steeped in traditions going back hundreds of years. Hunters are Jägers and the master of the hunt is the Jägermeister. The hunt does not start until Jägermeister formally starts it and the sounds of the hunting horns (Jagd Horns) have been heard. The horns have been a part of the hunt since the middle ages. They also observe a number of traditions such as honoring the animals, awarding successful hunters with branches and sharing social time after a hunt. Clothing is important to German hunters and you don’t just show up in jeans and an orange sweatshirt. The Lederhosen are leather pants that have been worn by the working class of Germany for hundreds of years. They hold up to rigorous work, and have become a tradition for hunters.
In Germany, you must obtain a national hunting license and this is arduous and expensive process. These licenses are only issued to men and women with spotless police records after he or she passes comprehensive oral and written tests, as well as a shooting tests. Failure rates are high, and the whole process might be compared, perhaps with the slightest measure of exaggeration, as approaching the difficulty of a master’s degrees. It takes an entire year of classes, three nights a week, as well as field activities. American service men and women stationed in Germany can take these classes and earn a national hunting license which never needs to be renewed and is valid for life. Don’t take this for granted though, there have been people that have worked hard to get their license and then lost it by a dumb act like public drunkenness or reckless driving. Once you lose it, you can never get another one. It sounds harsh but it does make for respectful hunting.
Hunting areas are called Reviers; these are hunting grounds owned by Germans privately or state controlled areas owned by the government. Private Revier owners provide access to hunt their lands and they charge hunters for the right to hunt and the owners must always maintain the land so it available for the hunt. Hunting as a means to control wildlife populations has been in play in Germany for hundreds of years. State agencies assign a quota to each hunter for the number of deer that must be hunted on each specific Revier. Hunters are required to meet a self-imposed quota — sometimes as many as 35 or 40 small deer each year. But hunters can call on friends for help. However, you must shoot exactly how many you are assigned or you commit to, and you cannot shoot even one more than that number. Failure to meet the goal, or exceeding the goal, will result in fines to the Revier owner.
I was just one of two guys in my post that finished the year long course to get a German hunting license. While in Germany, I participated in over 30 hunts. I hunted hare, fox, pheasants and my favorite, Roe deer. It is considered bad etiquette to brag or gloat about your hunting skill so I had to wait until I got back on base to brag. One of the most interesting things I hunted while in Germany was a bird, the Auerhahn. This bird is in the grouse family and is the size of a small turkey. After mating, the male is completely incapacitated for a few minutes, becoming momentarily blind, deaf and motionless. It is very easy to shoot them during mating season! Shortly after I left Germany, it became illegal to hunt them (and still is) because of their dwindling numbers.