Hunting Traditions Lost and Found
Updated: Apr 24, 2018
Europe has a long history of hunting traditions as many of the countries have been around for thousands of years. Primitive cultures also have a long history of ceremony surrounding the killing of wild and domestic animals for food. The basis for most ceremonies and rituals revolve around giving thanks, honoring and respecting the animal whose life was taken so that we may live, so that we are nourished, so that we are not hungry. In addition, these rituals honor and give thanks to the animals of the forest, with hopes that future hunts are successful. I think we need more of this in today's hunting culture.
I was first exposed to hunting in Germany as a young teenager, by my Uncle Ludwig.
Germans and Europeans in general have a long tradition of rituals that surround the hunt. Everything from the color and type of clothing that is worn to how the animal is handled and displayed after the hunt is part of the tradition. In Germany and probably most European Countries, you would never see an animal draped over the hood or bumper of a vehicle; you certainly would not stand or sit on an animal that just gave its life so the hunter could have his photo taken.
One of my favorite traditions that I was taught and that was bestowed upon me after I shot my first roe-buck was that of Der Letzte Biss, "The Last Bite." This tradition is practiced throughout most of Europe. Upon the retrieval of my deer, my uncle broke off an oak branch from a nearby tree, dabbed the branch on the wound of the animal, dabbed blood from that animal across my chest and placed the branch in the deer's mouth. This act was a token of appreciation, respect, and the symbolic last meal for the deer.
I have practiced this tradition now for over 30 years. With deer, I will break off a fir branch or piece of sagebrush; with my antelope, I will use sagebrush or grass and place it in its mouth. This is my way to paying respect and having a final moment with the animal whose life I have just taken. Additionally, it is a way to honor the animal before the work begins and it is reduced to a carcass that will be broken down into cuts of meat. Most hunters put a fair amount of work into their hunt and the harvest of their animals. Why not take a few minutes to honor your quarry and give thanks for and celebrate your hard work and success?