Saturday, November 3, 2018

A New Adventure: Der Jagdschein

I am on the brink of starting a new and daunting project, and I’m going to good-naturedly “blame” Tanja Brandt, Ingo, Poldi and Rüdi for this.

About a year ago I came across Tanja’s first book about Ingo and Poldi, and since then I have read everything that comes out about them – and the rest of Tanja’s troop of dogs, owls, and Greifvögel (birds of prey). Since then she has published four books and produced postcards, calendars, and bookmarks, and in her online shop one can also order shirts and knickers, bags and sofa pillows, cups and posters. I also just found a link to several videos about animal photography featuring Tanja, Ingo and Gandalf – just in time for Christmas, as M sits here next to me filling out an order form…

Poldi on the cover of a photography magazine

But what is my daunting project? I am going for my hunting license. Wait…Whaaaat? How are these two related?

In Germany in order to become a Falkner, one must first earn a hunting license. I don’t want to shoot a gun – like, ever – and I don’t want to hunt. But I want to work with owls and birds of prey, and M wants to photograph them. Maybe one day we’ll even see about getting a Harris hawk or a Steinkauz.

Harris Hawk
But that’s a long way away, since I first need to tackle this:

The class I need to take consists of a minimum of 130 hours of instruction - theoretical and practical. In Wisconsin the optional (for someone born before Jan. 1, 1973) hunter education class is  approximately 10 hours.

I made contact with a Jägerschule near Stuttgart, and they have space in a 3-week Blockkurs in April. I have since re-thought that plan and will probably register at the Landesjagdschule instead. Their course is stretched out more during the summer months, giving me time for self-studying in between weeks of class. I bought a study book for the Jägerprüfung a while ago already, but now I’m digging in in earnest. I started the other day with chapter one, which is all about Jagdrecht (hunting rights & laws). Yikes. I abandoned that chapter and skipped to something I can better handle for now – dogs. 

As an example of how I need to prepare for the test, I need to be able to recognize and know the attributes of at least 34 breeds of hunting dogs. In German. Fortunately for me, identifying dog breeds has been a fun pastime of mine since I was young, and therefore I knew more than half of them already. I need to know how the dogs hunt (a pointer hunts differently than a hound or a terrier) and what they are expected to do before and after the hunter shoots. Illnesses, general dog care, training methods & tools, breeding… All this despite the fact that M and I will never have a dog, but it’s part of what a hunter in Germany needs to know. If I understand correctly, for most types of hunting in Germany, the hunter is required to have a “brauchbarer Hund” (suitable and well-trained dog) with him or her.

I recently found and printed off the 117 questions from the pool of questions* on the test for Baden-Württemberg about dogs. M bought a laminator two weeks ago for a different purpose, but now I also have 34 laminated flashcards of the dog breeds to aid my studying (some shown in above photo). I can confidently identify all but 5 of them, and probably I’ll have those identified by the time I publish this post.

*There are 1250 questions in the pool for the entire test, covering five different subjects. The whole "dogs" topic is one section of one of the five subjects.

The thing that makes this project more challenging for me as an expat is that I am not only learning the Jägersprache (hunter’s language, which all potential hunters need to learn), but there are also a lot of regular German words I need to look up along the way. That gets frustrating, especially when a word is not unfamiliar to me – I should know this word, but I don’t.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a Jägersprache in the US. These are words that are not even familiar to Germans unless they hunt, and they usually don’t appear in a regular dictionary: Brackieren, buschieren, spurlaut, Waidlaut, bogenrein, schnallen, schliefen… And since these words are special to the Jägersprache, there is often no fitting English translation available, or none at all. Sometimes I come across a word that is used in regular German, but it means something else or something more specific in the Jägersprache. An example is "stöbern". In regular German that means "to rummage," but in Jägersprache it is a certain type of hunting that a certain type of hunting dog does.

At any rate, this will be quite an adventure and a challenge, and I'm both freaked out by the sheer amount of stuff I have to learn and eager to learn it.

I spent four hours recently with the former Landesjägermeister of Baden-Württemberg and his wife, who are family friends. Landesjägermeister is another word that doesn't translate into English because, at least in the US, there is no such person. He was the master hunter of the state for many years. In other words, concerning all things hunting, the buck stopped with him. He helped me come to some decisions about how I can tackle this project, and his wife served Hirschgulasch for lunch (the Hirsch shot by him, of course!). I am incredibly grateful for their help and advice.

This is my end goal:

...perhaps minus the cool medieval leather dresses. But I want to work with Eulen und Greifvögeln and get involved with a Falknerei. I want to learn more about these majestic birds and also how to help sick or injured wild ones - who are often victims of automobiles or wind turbines - and rehabilitate them.

Tomorrow we're heading to Burg Hornberg for the Flugvorführung of a new (for us) Falkner! I need to keep my eye on the end ball, so that I hopefully do not lose my nerve or my resolve along the way.

Wish me luck. In Jägersprache, that's...



  1. So impressive that you're taking this on! A friend of mine did her hunting license a few years ago and also got into falconry. She's got a gorgeous bird named Gaia, and it is fascinating to watch them work together. It's no small feat... so happy studying!

    1. Oh, lovely! What kind of bird is Gaia (beautiful name!)? I'm reading a ton, but I might need a local tutor, especially dealing with all the terms and phrases that are new to me. I'm making progress, and I hope my goal of taking the test a year from now is do-able. My Frauenarzt is a local hunter - could make for a more interesting conversation than usual at my next appointment. Haha!