Saturday, December 7, 2019

My Second Treibjagd

M and I went on another Treibjagd today, and it was quite an experience! This one was in a huge Revier (hunting territory) and the neighboring one as well, and the organizer is my Frauenarzt. We had the feeling a lot of people - hunters, Treiber and helpers - would be here, and we assumed we would know no one. Turns out we were wrong about the latter!

Friendly warning: There will be at least one photo of the "Strecke" near the end of this post, which is the deceased animals laid out on pine branches to honor them and the hunters who shot them.

If I understood correctly, there were 75 Schützen (hunter-shooters), who were taken to their assigned Hochsitze to spend 2.5 hours sitting in the rainy cold hoping that we Treiber would drive a wild boar, Reh (roe deer) or fox past them. I don't know how many Treiber there were, but I think there were ten groups, and we were six in our group.

(Not all are enclosed with a roof)
M's former landlord appeared out of nowhere holding the leash of a dog he doesn't own, and we were surprised and pleased to see someone we knew. Afterwards I saw our acquaintance JM, who is a Falkner in a village not far from us, and had a quick chat. He was one of the Schütze, got a Reh today,* and he is also in the Jagdhornbläser group. Another of the Jagdhornbläser popped over to greet us - he is our former neighbor from over the hedge!

*JM, if you read this, Waidmannsheil!!

The day after our first Treibjagd, we each ordered a new set of outdoor clothes: hardy orange hunting pants and hunter-orange jackets that were at least water resistant. I missed a great opportunity to have our neighbor take a photo of us suited up for tromping through the forest in our as-yet unused hunting gear and bright orange baseball caps. Damn.

We packed up our gear last night, and having learned from our last experience the entire car was loaded full with an extra set of clean, dry clothes and socks, towels, hand and foot warmers, two extra jackets, a spare set of boots, and Snickers bars. The weather forecast claimed the rain would stop around 6:00am and it would be warmer than it had been the past few days (around 10 °C). Liar.

The temperature was fine, actually. Ok we got cold standing around before the hunt actually began, but that's to be expected. But I don't think it ever stopped raining. It only changed from annoying to light to misty to steady rain. However, the fact that I made it to the end (2.5 hours later) with mostly dry feet means it was a damn sight better than last time.

And as a bonus, I also didn't lose my eyesight from the branches slapping me in the face, I didn't break an ankle tripping over moss-covered rocks, I didn't fall down the steep hill I had to walk along sideways, and I didn't get permanently stuck trying to fight my way through blackberry patches. All of those things almost happened, but didn't. I cursed like a drunken sailor again, using all the expletives I'm familiar with, but that was mostly near the end when I was getting tired.

Jagdleiter Rudi is welcoming and giving instructions to the
hunters and Treiber. It is his Revier, and this Treibjagd should help him
meet his quota of Reh and Wildschweine for the year.
"Quota" isn't really the right word, but hunters who own or lease Reviere here are responsible for shooting a certain number of roe deer and wild boars each year to keep the numbers managable and to fend off the ever-threatening Afrikanische Schweinepest (pig plague). If he does not fulfill the written goal, there may be serious consequences including - if he misses the goal several years in a row - losing his hunting ground. I just wanted to point out that this type of hunt isn't just for fun. The herds need to be culled because we humans keep reproducing and needing more and more fields for growing crops, and herds of deer and wild sows with their Frischlinge do horrible damage to crop fields, which the hunters have to pay for because it's their job to keep the wild animals out of the crop fields! We also killed all their predators (wolves), so nature can't regulate things on her own. I've learned about all of this during the Jagdkurs.

The job of the Treiber is to tromp through the forest making enough noise to convince the wild game to abandon their cozy shelter from the rain and dash away from the stupid noisy human. The Schützen need to be on alert with all their senses, being ready to shoot a sow or deer passing by but watching out for - and not shooting - the hunting dogs and the Treiber. They listen for the Treiber shouting out their location, the animals running or strolling through the forest, the dogs barking to indicate they've flushed something out... And their noses can tell them if a rauschiger Keiler (boar lookin' for love) is anywhere near.

staying warm before the hunt
The dogs' job is to wait patiently and quietly until they are let off the leash (punctually at Jagdbeginn, 10:00), and then run willy-nilly through the forest, barking and unsettling the game so they move to where the Schützen can get them. Their barks have a different tone, usually more frantic, when they're on the trail of a fleeing deer or Wildsau. The dogs I saw here today were several Teckel (Dachshunds), a Deutsch Drahthaar, a Brandlbracke, at least three Slovensky Kopovs*, and a black lab or two.

*I had to ask the handler for this breed because I didn't recognize it and it's not on my list to study for the Jägerprüfung. They had the look and coloring of Brandlbracken (black-and-tan hounds) but were too small and yet clearly not puppies.

Shortly before 10:00 our group set off from the shelter of Rudi's Jagdhütte and headed toward the forest. The terrain here was much more challenging than that of our first Treibjagd, being very hilly and full of blackberry patches. Treiben is a great (volunteer) job for people who like being out in nature. You're not restricted to paths - in fact you're really supposed to avoid the paths and stick to the rough, and you might get to see some wild animals. I only saw three dashing Reh, but M also saw a few foxes as well as a Wildschwein (wild boar).

We fought our way through thick forest undergrowth, up steep hillsides, down into valleys, and over ditches. The blackberry branches bit through our pants but couldn't tear them, the tree branches did their best to poke out our eyes, and everything on the forest floor gave its best effort to trip us and throw us on our asses. But in the end we prevailed - we made it out unbroken and unshot, as did everyone else.

After the hunt the organizers provided us all with delicious and warm Gulaschsuppe, good German bread, tea, coffee, or Glühwein, beer and water. There were two firepits burning to help us thaw the cold bits, and three Metzger (butchers) were on hand to do the Aufbrechen (gutting). One of the Metzger had a crowd around him and didn't just gut the boar - he talked about what he was doing, teaching how it's done and what to look out for (abnormalities in the organs). Several of us were clearly students who will have to identify internal organs for our test, and he showed us each of the important steps and parts.

I'll spare you those photos, but I have them and was not the only one taking pictures. All in the name of learning!

The traditional Strecke legen followed, where the animals are laid on pine branches to be counted and also honored along with the hunters who shot them. Rudi's wife thanked everyone for the good and safe hunt and called up each hunter who'd shot an animal (or three in one case!). Following custom she took a pine branch, stroked it against the animal the hunter had killed, and handed it to her or him to put in the band of his (or her - there were at least two women who were successful hunters today) hat with a "Waidmannsheil!"

12 Sauen, 22 Rehe, 9 Fuchse
After that the Jagdhornbläser performed several traditional tunes including Sau tot, Reh tot, and Fuchs tot."

This brought the hunt to its official end. The Metzger still had a lot of work to do, but the Treiber und hunter-shooters could slowly make their way to the pub/restaurant where Rudi said they are welcome to celebrate "bis zum Erbrechen."

One of my many questions was answered when I heard one hunter say he was going to drive his "Kanone" (gun) home and then come back to the pub. I've always wondered what a hunter does between a Treibjagd and the Schüsseltrieb afterwards - the social celebration. In Germany if one is caught in possession of a gun AND has more than 0.0% blood-alcohol level, he faces stiff penalties including likely the loss of his hunting license and gun license. I know what the hunter is supposed to do - not drink any alcohol as long as he still has his gun with him, or drive her gun home, lock it in her Waffenschrank (gun cabinet), and return to the party. A relative can't just come, pick up the gun and take it home because one is not allowed to transport a gun without a gun license.
Anyway, I was glad to hear this hunter's answer to the situation, which reflects the law.

This was our last planned Treibjagd for the season, and after I hit "publish" on this post I'm going to drag my tired Kadaver to the sofa for an evening nap. But we will very likely do this again next year. After all, we now have the proper outdoor clothing, so it would be a shame to just let it hang in a closet.

To all of today's successful hunters: Waidmannsheil!!


  1. Curious. As someone who spots and photographs wildlife, I generally find creeping about quietly more effective. I enjoy your posts and it's an interesting subject but I never have a great faith in culls to manage animal populations. Good news though - it seems a vaccine has been developed against swine fever (I'll add a link separately but your spam filter may take it out!)

    1. Creeping about (pirschen/stalking) is certainly more effective for wildlife photography! We've spent a lot of time - mainly in Scotland - sitting and waiting for wildlife to appear. A ranger told us the red deer know we're there long before we could see them, which is why the truly wild ones are hard to spot. But she also said that the deer are more afraid of people who do _not_ make any noise than those who just chat casually. Predators/stalkers creep about quietly, whereas hikers don't try to be quiet. There's always something to learn!

      That would be quiet something if ASP could be managed with a vaccine! So far for my hunting test, though, I have to know that there is a vaccine for the European version but not for the African one.


  3. Interesting about the deer, will bare it in mind - thanks