I was invited to a drive hunt with the German Forest office that I have my hunting area through. The hunt was Tuesday, 3 Nov, which is also the Feast day of Saint Hubertus, the Patron Saint of Hunters.
Even though there are a few other Americans that have areas such as mine through this office I was the only one invited on the hunt. Not sure why, but it gave me a good feeling of being accepted.
On to the hunt. It's about a 2 1/2 hour drive from my house, and had I left to be there close to the 0730 meet up time I would have hit a lot of traffic. So instead I left the house around 0100, arriving in the area around 0315. I took a 5 gallon pail of a apple/corn/salt mix to put in the bait station for wild pigs that is in my hunting area (baiting pigs is legal, and neither of the day's drives were in my area). I drove straight to my area, dropped off the bait, then parked and took an hour or so nap.
I went to the meeting area around 0645 and met the head hunter for that forest office, Claus. Really good guy that I've know for a few years now. I helped him hang the parking area signs, which are designations for which group you'd be hunting with. I was in group 10. Around 0700 other hunters started to show up, check in, and stand around shooting the breeze for a while. I recognized a few faces, and talked with the foresters that I've known for a while.
We then gathered in a group as the Forest Office chief gave the greetings and instructions for the day, since it was all in German I had no idea what she was saying but was able to understand the important stuff, like what we could and couldn't shoot and the times of the drives.
Afterward we all headed off with our groups to the areas we'd be standing. I was dropped off in a spot that had some recent logging activity. The stand at this spot had me a little concerned, not because of the location, rather I thought I might end up on the ground when it tipped over.
Views from this stand
About 15 minutes into the drive, two Roe deer were headed towards me from across that road. Someone had just shot at them and they were beating feet in my direction...until I started to bring the gun up, then they turned on a dime and were gone. Those little things are pretty nimble, even in an all out run!
One of the hounds. This guy barked non stop from start to finish of the two hour drive.
I saw one more Roe before the end of the first drive. That one was about 75 yards away, and was just a flash through the trees.
Some kind of meat/vegetable soup provided by the forest office.
After lunch we had a brief instruction thing by the chief again, then met up with our assigned group for the afternoon drive. I was in Group F this time and off we went. The area for the afternoon drive is the opposite side of a small valley from my hunting area. Hopefully some critters made their way across, since I'll be hunting there this weekend
My stand for this hunt was luck number 7, good sign!
View from here. The stand faced up hill, if sitting, and behind me dropped down somewhat steeply. At first I wasn't real happy with this spot, and most likely not somewhere I would have chosen except for this being a drive hunt I figured it'd be ok.
Was a bit concerned that my truck was park in between me and the person at the next stand over from me. But it made it without any bullet holes
The drive was to start at 1400. During the instructions I was pretty sure they said not to load our guns until that time. I was on stand just before 1330, and was sitting there reading something when two shots rang out from the guy on the other side of my truck. Shocked the crap out of me! I quickly loaded the gun, but nothing came by.
Right at 1400 I heard the drivers sound off then immediately heard some dogs heading in my direction. Looking down the hill behind me I could see a lone Roe deer running over 100 meters away. It stopped momentarily but behind a tree, then took off out of sight.
About 15 minutes later I heard those same dogs sounding off again, and again from somewhere down the hill behind me. I look behind me and see a good sized Red stag about 60 yards away and trotting along the hillside! Now, before you all think I'm nuts for hesitating, keep in mind that Germany has a thing called Trophy Fees. During the morning briefing it was explained that Red stags were fair game, BUT, anything in the Trophy Class 1 category would incur the shooter a 2,000 Euro ($2,200) trophy fee! A Class 1 means that the antler tips have a crown of more than three points. Anything under a class 1 would not have a fee. So in just a couple of seconds time I had to, look at the first Red stag I'd ever seen in the wild, check the antlers for size, and decide to shoot if they were not crowned. I didn't see a crown on the side closest to me so I decided to shoot. I had one opening before he would get behind some beech brush. He never broke stride at the crack of the .308. As he was now trotting away from me I could clearly see that had I connected I'd be 2,000 Euro poorer today. First time in my life that I was actually relieved to have missed an animal
The next 45 or so minutes were kind of quiet. Once in a while I heard the drivers and/or dogs, but never saw them. Then I see movement about 50 yards to my right, I look over and see what I'm pretty sure is a Red deer cow sneaking up the hill. Got the gun up and confirmed what she was. She was walking at a good pace so I gave a whistle and she stopped just as the crosshairs hit the back of her shoulder. At the shot she turned and started running towards me but crashed after only about 10 yds.
The drive ended about 1/2 hour later. Our group had 5 hunters, I was the second one dropped off and the guy that shot early was dropped off first. The stands were all in a row along the road that was behind me. At the end of a drive we were told to wait by the road for the others to come out. The other three hunters and the group lead came by and were almost as happy as me when they saw the deer. I backed my truck up to where we were and we loaded her in. We drove to the next guy, and he's waiting there with a Red deer calf! Excellent! He was telling the lead about the shot, He tells him that he saw two calves, a cow, and the stag. His two shots were one at the stag and one at the calf, and that he shot around 1400. Now, even though I don't speak German very well, I'm pretty good at understanding. And I'm pretty sure my watch isn't half an hour off
Oh well, no one seemed to mind.
We headed to the after the hunt meeting area where we held the traditional Streckenlegen; or in English, display of game. This event is to honor the animals as well as congratulate the successful hunters.
Honoring the taken game
Congratulating the hunter
Forest office chief, and Claus, their Jaegermeister.
These pics are of the animals killed on the afternoon drive. There were 3 Red deer (1 cow and 2 calves), two Roe deer does, and 4 pigs (1 mature, 1 uberlaufer (