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Hunting in the Old Country
January 2013
Gerhard Schroeder

The cold soon started to creep in. Above, dark clouds and sunshine were chasing each other. Every ditch carried water. It was typical wet cold fall weather in Germany. My brother and I had been invited to participate in a harvest hunt. That is, several ‘guns’ had surrounded a fairly large corn field while the big machine was eating it up, twelve rows on each pass, a little faster than walking speed. The suspicion and hope was that wild boar would soon be robbed of their hiding environment. Fox, badger and raccoon were also ‘in season’.

We waited, sitting on small folding chairs, about a hundred yards away, sort of along the path to the nearest woods. This clearly wasn’t Arizona. Houses and roads were not too far. The air filled with sounds of geese at one time, then cranes, and of course crows. Somewhere in the distance a few ducks passed by. And constantly, wild pigeons flew over the field, apparently waiting for the spilled goodies which accompany cutting down such field. The corn was chopped into small pieces and taken away wagon by wagon, to be turned into bio fuel at a nearby processing plant. It was easy to forget the noise of the heavy machines and enjoy the small game in the background. In the end only a deer fled, all guns remained silent. That’s hunting, in this case part of my 2012 vacation.

Of course we did not just hunt every day. There was plenty of family time, visiting a former Nazi labor camp now turned into a memorial, hiking along the river Elbe, visiting a moor once heavily into peat production, now silent and protected, etc. But hunting we did. And just about everything was in season. The German system is different. There are no bag limits, not for small game, and certainly not for wild boar. Dinners consisted of pigeon one day, another time mallards, deer steaks, boar roast. It felt like I was living like the Kaiser.

Speaking of … In one afternoon I managed to bag two crows, 2 pigeons, 5 mallards. Then, on our way home, we detoured past a meadow. Sure enough, a deer was feeding, a good three hundred paces away. My brother suggested I try stalking to close the distance to about a hundred and then hope for a good support to make a clean shot. Twenty minutes later I had remained undetected, now ‘testing’ several oak trunks to brace gun and arms against. Everything looked steady through the Swarowski now cranked at 10X. I set the trigger on his drilling, and when the buck turned broadside, the .30 Blaser shattered the silence. What a finish to an already fun day.

A day later came another invitation to hunt corn fields. The lease holder explained that adult sows are to be passed over, or if killed ought to be purchased at seven Euros per Kilo. They easily go over 80. “Shoot the younger ones, they have a brownish appearance”, he strongly recommended. “Or any big male.”

Not even a deer came out of the first, smaller field. For the second field I was told to take position at one of the corners. As the corn field shrank, we five hunters advanced to be near the new edges. We could only shoot away from the field, away from each other and the heavy equipment. Eventually the remaining corn was only about twenty yards wide, and the monster machine was coming down the opposite side from me, basically consuming half of what was still standing.

That must finally have been too much for the wild porkers. Out they came. Big black dark momma in the lead, maybe twenty steps away from me, followed by about ten brown ones. That is what we were here for! The Sauer 80 with Zeiss scope set at 2.5x was already swinging. There, a bigger of the brown bunch, open now … cross hairs tracking the front – boom! The 180-grainer from that .30-06 dropped the beast instantly.

The mob got a little quicker. So did I, operating the bolt. A little more lead on number two – boom! That little guy also went down. Now the last brown critter reached the edge of the field, the saving woods – boom! It disappeared from view. The herd was gone. Number two required a finishing shot, which emptied the gun. It was all over in under ten seconds.

My brother, an easy hundred paces away, had also fired once but missed. I fumbled more ammo into that Sauer, then followed the third pig. Ten steps into the woods I found it, also requiring a final round.

What a morning! With a little help from the lease holder we field dressed the three boar. Joerg Dieter was happy that they had come to bag, that they were the correct ‘age’. The smallest was the size of a good javelina, the largest maybe sixty pounds - gutted. Then we five guns went to the next field. But no more pigs, only two deer. Of course there was some ‘celebrating’ that afternoon after such success.

More hunting happened during the next days, including an ambush on two ponds as ducks came to spend the night. Twelve of us bagged 30 mallards, of which I dropped one.

Just to get the picture; the pond I was at bordered a railroad. A small passenger train came by as we were waiting for ducks, with guns ready.

Germany is crowded, and game is plenty. But you do not get your hunting license at Walmart. The course lasts a year! You hunt and shoot with discipline.

After that duck hunt we 12 enjoyed dinner together, with plenty of stories and booze. There my ‘wild boar’ story made the rounds. This led to more invitations to hunt from guys I had only met at that dinner.

I followed one, for a fallow deer. Sitting on one of those typical high stands with my brother, we did see some, but none in the right category. So the Sauer remained silent. Still, a neat experience.

I could not cash in on yet another invitation for boar or stag. But that lease holder, Frank, ‘suggested’ I come back to Germany during a November, and align my vacation with a full moon phase. Tempting!

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