Creeping through the marsh which reeked of brackish stasis, we closed the distance between ourselves and the two boar. These boar, along with red, fallow, and roe deer, were what we were after on this hunting trip along the northern German coastline. Standing a mere 20 metres from the preoccupied creatures, we carefully waited for some indication of whether they were accompanied by piglets or not, but the reeds were obstructing our view of the ground.
Throwing up their ugly black heads, they inspected us, ears perked forwards and snouts testing the air. Their less than perfect eyesight however, did not recognize our presence. At some point, they had had enough. The first to run off was a young sow, however we still wanted to see whether piglets accompanied the more mature sow. Alas, as the second sow ran past we saw that she was alone, but was already so spooked that a shot would have been futile. Retracing our steps through the water, trying not to get our boots soaked, we climbed on top of an old metal scrap to get a better view. Seeing the location to where the boar had run, we made a second stalk. Once again we got close, within 40 yards, but this time the reeds prevented any chance at a shot.
Stalking in the direction of the vehicle, we figured that even if we had no game to show for our efforts, we could at least compose a few pictures. I walked ahead while Philipp worked his magic, capturing the light green carpet of moss of ancient sand dunes. As I approached the crest of such a dune, I glassed the other side. Lo and behold, a movement caught my eye. Sinking to the ground, I whispered to Philipp at my side “Right here!”. “Red deer?” “No, RIGHT HERE!” I was quite excited, as demonstrated in the picture he snapped of me in that moment. Sinking to the ground, I whispered to Philipp at my side “Right here!”. “Red deer?” “No, RIGHT HERE!”
Concentrating on the game below us, we both prepared for a shooting opportunity. I rose from the ground, and wedged my hand and Krieghoff Hubertus against the nearest tree. There were two animals, a fallow doe and calf. Complying with ethical hunting standards, I aimed at the calf and squeezed off the shot. The fallow dropped on the spot, while the doe leaped a few bounds to the right. Stopping to look back was her fatal mistake, as Philipp already had pressure on the trigger. Two single shot rifles had made it happen. It was our second “couple-double” of the season, the previous being on a roe doe and fawn. In the pouring rain, we dragged them to the nearest road, where we hung them high in a tree to ensure the local foxes could not spoil the meat. This calf would provide tasty meals in my upcoming semester at university. The sauna in the house we had rented proved very useful for drying out our soaked clothes. This trip was rainy all right. Great company and great wine made the long winter evenings very easy to endure, however.
Cormorants had destroyed a good part of the forest surrounding one of the stands we inspected that evening, their acidic guano killing the trees beneath their colonial nests. As we moved on from that area and continued our still-hunt along an overgrown road, we were discouraged by the lack of game. The overcast sky reflected silver on the blackish water that saturated much of the ground here. This year was particularly wet, which meant nearly everything was a swamp. That evening proved fruitless, but we did stalk through some interesting architectural remnants and fences from the military times.
The holes that the boar were digging up replicated some of the bomb craters that dotted this landscape. A poor acorn season left these omnivores scavenging underground for roots, worms, and anything else that might satisfy a boar’s appetite. High consumption results in equally high excretion, and Philipp and I stumbled upon some droppings that would make a small black bear jealous.
Hunting does not go without tension, and I’ll be the first to admit that I often carry this tension, along with my rifle, on my shoulder. Muscles referring their pain to my brain, I had a bad headache that evening and the next morning. Of course the one morning I decide to stay in bed, Philipp and Georg lucked into a most fortunate encounter. 200 kilograms of wild boar made it back to the larder at midday. An 80 kilogram mature Keiler made Philipp one very happy hunter! Pedro, our family hunting dog in his senior years, appreciated the field trip from the warm house to the larder to partake in the congratulations and cleaning of the meat.
Retreating from one unsuccessful stalk where the fallow in question had disappeared into thin air, we continued on the forest path towards a stand known as the “Buchensitz.” Even before we made it to the stand, Philipp pointed out a doe/calf group to our right. Conveniently, there was a lane completely free of branches and obstacles, which presented a shooting opportunity. My Geovid HD-B’s ranged the calf at 140 metres, quite a respectable distance for its small size. The Jackele quadruped shooting stick I was using allowed for nearly no wiggle. Squeezing off a shot, the calf registered the hit and jumped off to the left. Still looking through my Visus i, I saw the calf run back to the right, following the doe, and disappear behind a thick beech. Taking our time walking to the shot site, we at first couldn’t find any blood. Then, fallow deer startled along in the trees along the skyline and we wondered whether the calf was still up and moving. As often, we moved back a few metres and found the site of impact, as well as a significant amount of blood. No calf was to be seen. Until Philipp looked beyond his boots, and pointed to the adjacent bomb crater. Amongst the lime green algae, floated the expired calf.
University was calling, and I had to go. I had already lost a week of studying during my winter holiday for the upcoming exams, and could not justify prolonging the inevitable. It was time to head back to reality, and leave this little piece of paradise on the coast behind. Philipp and his father continued the hunt for a few days, and further assisted the cull management plan of the area. I am already looking forward to next year.