After a bad last year I needed new energy to recharge my batteries. I was desperately looking for ways to gather new strength for the year ahead. The only question was how? Whenever I did poorly in a class test, even though I had studied so hard for it, or when I got disappointed by a trusted friend, I kept on asking myself that same question.
I had to find something that would give me support in the future. My father has always been very close to me. He has been more like a buddy than a typical father figure. We have always been able to talk about everything, and we have shared many experiences. He grew up with hunting, because his father had been a hunter, too. My grandfather, who died in 2012, had given me a pair of Leica 8×50 BA Trinovid binoculars for my confirmation. Until today it is the most valuable thing I own and my constant companion when I am out hunting.
After my dad noticed my search for a source of new energy, he wondered what I could do. The days passed … Then in mid 2016, my father called me. In a local hunting magazine, he had discovered an ad offering marmot hunting in Austria. When he told me about this, I couldn’t believe it at first, and my heart was beating fast. Since my early childhood, I have spent my holidays in Austria with my parents and also with my grandparents. I have always felt a close connection to this region. I knew that this wouldn’t just be a hunting experience, but an experience for life.
The long ride was very exhausting, but I managed to arrive at my destination after six hours. Even as I drove from Germany across the border to Austria, I noticed the feeling of being at home. The mountains, the fresh air, the conifer forests. After I arrived at the guesthouse, I first began to explore the area. Then I took a short nap and called the game tenant to let him know that I had arrived safely. He was pleased and asked immediately if my hunting guide could pick me up at the guesthouse the next day at 9:30 am. I was full of anticipation that I could hunt in the region where I feel so much at home. I went to bed early to make sure I’d have enough energy for the hunt.
After a good night’s sleep I had a hearty breakfast. At 09:30 my hunting guide Daniel picked me up. He is a very nice guy and we’re still in contact. He was happy to be able to go hunting with such a young man, because this meant we would be able to go hunting in difficult terrain that he normally can’t reach with older hunting guests, who don’t always have the necessary stamina. I wasn’t quite sure if I could do it, but as the old saying goes “nothing ventured, nothing gained”. It was only a short ride from the village into the hunting area, until we reached a farmed alpine hut. My hunting guide told me that the landlord had a lot of problems with his cows, because they broke down into the burrows of the marmots. We got ready with a shotgun and of course my Leica binoculars and walked up the mountain swiftly.
I realized that Daniel was in much better shape than I, and it was very strenuous for a lowlander like me to climb a mountain at such a pace. At 12:00 am we took our first break, and lay down about 80 metres in front of a marmot burrow in the hope to spot one, but in vain. But behind us a single chamois passed the mountain crest. After an hour we moved on in the direction of the mountain crest. Arriving at the top we just wanted to rest for a while to try our luck in the next valley. Only a few minutes later we heard a loud whistle. Daniel told me to hurry, because there was a marmot close by. The clouds were hanging low in the valley, and so we were able to get nearer to where the whistle came from. Unfortunately, as we got out of the cloud, we only saw the burrow of a marmot about 130 metres away. Behind us a herd of 35 chamois was passing along. A fascinating sight, which I could enjoy even more looking through my binoculars.
When we looked to the marmot burrow again, one marmot had come out. We observed it with the binoculars for a while until Daniel said I should shoot. I didn’t wait long and got my shotgun into the right position. I took a quick breath, unlocked the gun, and when I was ready, I took the shot. The marmot collapsed where I had shot it. I couldn’t believe it. I had come this long way and had just shot my first marmot. I was prouder than I had ever been before and I felt my grandfather so close to me, just because of the binoculars which he had given to me years ago. That’s a very special connection, which isn’t so easy to explain and not really easy to understand.
This experience immediately gave me new strength. It showed me that you can reach your goals, if you can find the strength to do it. My hunting guide congratulated me when we got to the marmot. After a break we decided to head back. I put the marmot into my backpack, and after an hour we arrived at the alpine hut where we had started our hunt. The landlord invited us to a cold beer. We sat on a bench together in front of the pasture and enjoyed the beautiful landscape, until we drove back to the village. Back at the guesthouse, Daniel praised me again for my stamina and told me that he would be very happy if I visited him again some time. Everything has its time. Maybe I will get another chance to accept his invitation, when I need another break from everyday life to recharge my batteries. At any rate, I had realized one thing: Sometimes you have to leave you familiar environment to be able to think clearly again. In my opinion, hunting and experiencing nature is the best way to make a new start and get new energy.