View Full Version : German hunting customs and rituals, clarification needed please.

December 13, 2002, 06:44 PM
I talked to a friend who had been stationed in Germany when he was in the Army.

He talked about the legal hoops that hunters there must jump through including having a hunting master on site to show them the shoting lanes and having to hunt in specified places and at specified times. He mentioned the test that hunters had to take, which was long and involved with a great deal of memorized information.

Part of the test he said consisted of proving an understanding of the hunting RITUALS, such as placing a sprig of holly or of cedar on various parts of the anatomy of the dead animals.

Can anyone tell me more about these hunting rituals, their origin and their purpose and their significance? Links to websites, especially anthtopology sites would be appreciated.

December 13, 2002, 07:01 PM
Often you'll see a european hunter in a "trophy" pic. The hunter's prey has a bit of 'garland' in its mouth, and often the hunter's cap is also decorated.

While there were "traditional" boughs of pine etc, often (esp. in African hunting) handy substitutes are found.

The tradition (if I recall right) is to sort of give the animal a "final meal" and remind the hunter (who was often a farmer) about the importance of the land, and the plants and animals that live there.

Also as a hunter's trophy the gardland is not unlike an olive wreath rewarded for winning a chariot race, and in later times, given those tiny sloped jager hats, a jaunty pine bough (or other foliage) could be seen from a long way off.. allowing the village to start your celebration before you got back.

December 14, 2002, 01:04 PM
Well, thank you, that's a start. I didn't know they called them garlands, so will start searching the net using that word. You wouldn't know, would you, if it is a Celtic, Viking, Frankish or Teutonic ritual, whether it involves the pagan pantheons or whether it historically predates the pagan religions?

Any of our Pagans or Wiccans or SCA buffs out there who can help out on this question?

Keith Rogan
December 14, 2002, 03:29 PM
I think the custom of placing some greenery in the mouth also had a practical side. It showed a "found" animal. If you head back to the village to get some assistance in carrying your kill home, anyone else happening on the critter knew to leave it lie.

December 15, 2002, 03:14 PM
I always thought the foliage in the mouth was there to show the animal was taken while unaware, i.e.. while grazing - the mark of a skilled hunter. As opposed to the old traditional European hunting method - the game-drive - where animals were herded in front of the "hunter" to be slaughtered in an unsportsmanlike manner. The sprig of foliage in the animal's mouth proves the hunter has superior skill and ethics. That was my understanding. Let us know what your research finds. -- Kernel

June 3, 2015, 12:49 PM
It’s interesting that I found this thread; I was looking up Bavarian Hunting traditions on the web and came across this site and this post.
I have spent over 12 years hunting in Bavaria and have observed some of the traditions you have talked about in your initial question, I also attended the Hunter course for US service members stationed in Germany and I can dispel some of the myths mentioned.
The traditional branch that is placed in the mouth cloven hoofed game in Germany is call the “Last Bite”, it pays respect for the game and must be a branch from 1 of the 5 indigenous trees to Germany. A “shooting branch” is also placed on the left side of the animal, while it is laying on its right side after the kill, to demonstrate ownership of the kill by a hunter. One of the posters in this thread mentioned leaving the kill and marking it while the Hunter went for help retrieving the animal, this is what the Ownership or shooting branch does.
Of all the social hunts that I attended, I was accompanied only one time by a forester or guide. This was for a Red stag hunt on a federal reservation.
Hunting in Germany is a completely different way of Hunting than what we practice here in the States. You can hunt 12 months out of the year, but the season is typically from May to January for Roe Deer. Roe deer are the most populated species of deer in Bavaria, where I spent my time. Roe deer rarely grow over 50 lbs. and give birth to 2 or 3 “kitz”, or fawns, a year.
After a year of relying on social hunts or invitations to hunt on private lands, I was able to lease a hunting area of my own. I was allowed to Hunt and control 750 acres of Bavarian Forrest for about $400.00 a year. I was also issued an “Abschuz” or harvest requirement of 12 does each year. After completing this task, I was refunded half of the fee for the Hunting area or “Reveir”.
I’d be happy to talk more about the German Hunting experience, even though this thread is a few years old.
Weidmanns Heil. :)

Art Eatman
June 3, 2015, 06:56 PM
Welcome, Ajaxx!

Since this thread is so short, "necrothreadia" won't hurt. You could, of course, begin a new thread with, "Hunting in Germany" if you like, cutting and pasting your post.

Thanks for the info.

June 3, 2015, 07:06 PM
Very interesting, and thanks for posting.

June 4, 2015, 02:38 AM
Indeed, very interesting topic. I hope more posts will follow. Welcome to TFL!

June 4, 2015, 01:20 PM
Few years back I started my own "German Hunting Custom" by using only GSPs and GWPs for my bird dogs.

.....and I believe it's 'Waidmanns Heil".

June 4, 2015, 02:42 PM
We were sitting in a big old Guest House (Hotel) and these rabbit hunters came in, dogs and all. They had handfuls of rabbits. The Guest House was really big and the door was in the middle of the building. They took over the one half of the place. I asked the owner and she said they stayed and ate rabbit until they were gone. I don't know about that part, they had 126 rabbits. They were the small ones, not the hares. I was a member of a shooting club in Germany and it did seem really difficult to get a hunting license.

June 12, 2015, 05:06 PM
I notice that this thread got a bump in 2015. For those that remain curious here is the link to the US Army Europe page for Hunting, Fishing and Sport Shooting: http://kaiserslautern.armymwr.com/europe/kaiserslautern/programs/hunting-fishing-sport-sho/

If you are interested in the facts of Hunting in Germany click the link above and scroll most of the way down the page to the actual course material taught in the English version of the course that all "Jungjaegers (young hunters) must pass. Here is a direct link to the chapter that covers some of the questions raised in this forum: http://grafenwoehr.armymwr.com/files/7213/8429/8081/Guide_03_History_2013-08.pdf

If you are moving to Germany as a US Servicemember, contractor, dependent, or GS Civilian employee, use the link above to find your garrison and contact them regarding the requirements to obtain a hunting license. It is not that hard and although I would not call it an "affordable" pastime here, it is affordable on most budgets.

If you are coming to the Kaiserslautern/Ramstein/Landstuhl area look us up on Facebook as KMC Hunters or follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/KMC-Hunters/208142385872216?ref=bookmarks

In reference to the question of "Waidmannsheil", the previous posts are accurate. The question of spelling is actually a matter of discussion even among Germans. Depending on where you are in Germany, or Austria, or anywhere in Europe actually, it can be spelled differently.


Arizona Fusilier
June 12, 2015, 05:54 PM
A very distinct memory of mine from REFORGER 90 while tooling down the road in Schwabia was seeing three hunters in the woodline having a discussion. I could tell they were hunters, because they looked like they came off a beer stein. Needless to say, you don't wear camo hunting in Germany.

Can anyone articulate the dress code with more specificity? Is it truely the law, or a custom that dare not be breached?

June 12, 2015, 10:44 PM
Check out capandball's youtube channel although he's not German, he several hunting videos on European-style hunting.

June 13, 2015, 04:16 AM
These are my opinion based on my three years as a hunter here in Germany. Keep in mind that Germany is a big country and I am in a part that is very accustomed to Americans. Some parts of Germany are very traditional and what flies here would earn a Jager a stern look, at least elsewhere.

What to wear, what to wear? It depends on the kind of hunt you are going on, who you are and who you are with. The notion of green and brown clothing or jagdtrocken is tradition and not law.

If you are a new hunter (jungjaeger) you had probably show up in at least something kinda close to traditional. Here in Rhineland-Pfalz Americans get away with more than most places because the population is quite accustomed to seeing us as Americans. There are more Americans here than in any other local outside the US!

If you are hunting alone on your own lease or revier outside you can wear whatever you want. I hunt with a German fellow that wears Cablelas camo shirts and technical fiber camo jacket. The previous two years I hunted with an older German fellow who wore all green all the time, except on drive hunts he put an orange band on. If you are a known hunter with a good reputation you wear what you want hunting. When you go to ceremonies, meetings, or funerals, you better be in traditional garb.

Keep in mind traditional means something different in different parts of Germany. The American vision of Octoberfest style clothing is not universally German, it is primarily a Bavarian style. Hunters wear that style even here in Rhineland-Pfalz, but usually they grew up or have family in Bavaria in my experience.

During Treibjagd Season (drive hunts in the winter with groups of people) hunters must wear orange. How much orange depends on what state in Germany you are hunting in. All states have a requirement of at least an orange head band. I wear a blaze camo jacket with an orange hat. Blaze camo is quite common to see, even on some older German hunters.


June 13, 2015, 09:15 AM
We (in Sweden) also do the branch thing, and give one to the succesful shooter to.

My father who speaks german reasonably well did a faux paus while hunting in germany way back when thou. in german hunting there is almost a distinct language and he only spoke regular german. so when he shoots a boar and tells the hunting master that there is loads of blood on the spot he goes crazy, turns out they have different words for human and animal blood:D

June 13, 2015, 09:18 AM
I have jagdterrier and many other breeds are very popular here to, quite a boom actually

maybe some of the german posters can answer if it is true that a jagdterrier who is a known cat killer gets a diploma? I have heard about it jokingly but seeing mines hate for cats I can sorta believe it:o

June 13, 2015, 11:05 AM
It's been over 40 years for me,,,
And I only went on one hunt over there.

But when I did manage to pop a rabbit,,,
They skinned it and made me wear the skin as a hat for the evening.

I was stationed at Hahn AFB from 71 to 73,,,
It was about an hour and a half drive from K-Town.

I joined the base Rod & Gun Club my first week,,,
There were about a week of classes involved before I could shoot.

Just like cars, rifles were re-sold from Airmen to Airman over an over again,,,
The Marlin (unremembered single-shot) bolt .22 I bought for $35.00,,,
Had already been owned by more than a dozen others.

I sold it for $35.00 when I left.

The hunting license was not difficult to obtain,,,
The Rod & Gun Club took care of the paperwork for us,,,
But the test was intensive and you did need to study hard to pass it.

The Rod & Gun Club maintained a nice range on the base,,,
So it was mostly plinking at paper targets,,,
Then beers and schnitzel at the bar.

The club was also where we were required to store our rifles.

A target, 50 rounds of rimfire, a schnitzel sandwich, and 5 beers was a few pennies under $4.00.

Seeing as how I was an young E-3 and only made $180.60 a month,,,
That was actually a good way to spend 2-3 evenings a week.

Fond memories,,, :)



T. O'Heir
June 13, 2015, 12:26 PM
Ya'll notice the date of the original post?

Arizona Fusilier
June 13, 2015, 05:35 PM
I did.....it was always something I was curious about. So I rolled with it, since others did.

June 15, 2015, 01:12 PM
haha Aaron, :D

from what I have seen with game parades and such, sometimes it irks me, like it seems people are bragging but when the whole community comes and watches and pays their respect it is a good thing, they are introducing kids to it, to know where the meat is coming from and so on

richie richs who only do the shooting and make game-wardens/guides to all the hauling and gutting still irks me thou. it is called hunting not shooting and encompasses everything IMO

June 15, 2015, 01:47 PM
Sorry about necroing the thread. I got a bit excited when I read that someone was actually interested in the things that I experienced as a “Jager”.

I did some hunting in other parts of Germany but learned the language “Jager spruch” and all the traditions in Bayern (Bavaria). Speaking with other Germans from outside of Bayern would sometimes land me a confused look because of the way I was taught to pronounce some of the strange words that Bavarians and Bavarian Hunters used.

Fireball 70 outlined some good facts about clothing worn on social hunts. It’s true, Kneebundhosen (sorry Fireball if I messed that one up : ) ) or knickers are things I laughed at when I first tried them on, but they are very comfortable and allow you to roll the socks down when you are getting hot, so I ended up wearing them all the time.

One very cool thing about hunting in Bavaria was the passion that other Hunters shared. Once they figured out that you were serious about hunting, the invitations started and I spent less and less time on my own revier and more time cleaning up the abschuss on other reviers. I ended up hunting for a Gasthouse/Metzgerei/Hotel owner(Restaurant and butcher) who was also a Jager but wasn’t too keen on having an “Auslander” foreigner hunt his land, but because he needed some wild boar killed, he let me after them. I ended up hunting for him full time until I left.

More invitation came after I took on a hunting dog. I acquired a Wire haired dachshund (Dackel) that was the best hunting dog I could have imagined. Once he learned to track, he quickly became my best hunting partner. The Forrester that was responsible for the revier that I was assigned to once told me that “Hunting means nothing without a dog”. I only now understand what he meant. In the hunting environment that I was submersed in, I needed a small dog to chase out game from acres of young pine lots, track downed game from extremely thick vegetation.

Thanks for the interest, brings back fond memories.

Arizona Fusilier
June 15, 2015, 06:54 PM
Ajaxx, are you still in the service? How did you manage to " homestead" so long in Germany?

June 17, 2015, 07:28 AM
not in the service anymore. There was little time to fish or hunt when I was patrolling that eastern Border.

I've been out for a while. I worked for the US Military after my service. My job brought me back to the states in 2007

I know live and work in Florida. Fishing here is great but Hunting is nothing like it was in Bavaria.

June 29, 2015, 03:51 PM
I just wanted to add a comment. All the above customs were followed by the German family I stayed with when I hunted plains game Namibia in 2007.
This all very interesting and familiar.