Safari Club International members find that no matter where they go in the world, they are going home – to the home of other members, if not their own. Travel may be international. Hunting is local to wherever the hunt happens to be.
There is something special about hunting in Europe. There is something even more special about hunting in Europe with both friends and colleagues.
That’s the way it was last December when a number of scribes from around the world hunted in forested areas not far from Laubach, Germany. We hailed from as far east as Warsaw, as far west as Tucson, as far north as Oslo and as far south as Madrid.
As is the case with such expeditions, some of us knew each other from previous hunts; some were new to each other. Jens-Ulrik High from Denmark, Matteo Brogi from Italy (of the SCI Italian Chapter) and I had shared a hunt the month before in the Czech Republic. When I bumped into Matteo at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas a month after the hunt in Germany, I chuckled that he and I were probably together about as much during that period as were he and his wife. That’s the way it goes in the hunting world. Unfortunately, all that travel precluded Mateo from attending the SCI Convention this year.
For those not familiar with the Laubach area, it is in the central German state of Hesse, district of Gießen. It is remindful of the upper Midwest, USA, in the area that stretches from western Ohio to central Illinois.
Game species encountered during the driven hunts in Germany included red deer, roe deer, mouflon, wild boar, fox and the like.
The driven hunts were done in classic European style, preceded and followed with traditional ceremonies, including feasting at the end of each day. Such hunts are part of game management efforts, and they work.
At the beginning of each drive, hunters are stationed at stands and then wait for the animals to come by on their own, or to buzz by ahead of the human/canine drivers. Depending on what part of the forest the stand happens to be, shots can range from a stone-throw away to kind of long.
On the hunt, I was using a really nice Sauer 404 with carbon fiber stock, chambered for .30-06 Springfield. Ammo was Hornady ELD-X Precision Hunter. Scope was a Zeiss Victory V8 1.8-14×50 and binos were Zeiss Conquest HD 10×42.
I used the binos frequently, either to look at birds in the trees, or to check out something that looked like it might be an animal in the distance – usually just a clump of brush, but it is nice to determine that, just in case.
The rifle rig was perfect for driven hunts as well as general spot-and-stalk hunting. I kept the power ring set at 1.8x with the red dot in the lighted reticle feature on, which made the scope pretty much like a regular red dot sight. The nice part was that, with a quick turn of the power adjustment ring, the scope could do duty on longer-range shots.
The modified thumbhole/pistol grip stock made offhand shots at running game easier, and the overall swing dynamics of that rifle were delicious. It was light, but not whippy. Trigger pull was light enough and crisp enough to allow for both quick and accurate shots.
Needless to say, the optics in both binos and scope were superb – as one would expect from a fabled company like Zeiss.
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I detected something moving amid the brushy ground cover, about 100 meters off. It was a beautiful, fully furred fox. When it emerged from behind a tree, the rifle barked and fox went down, stone still.
I first hunted in Germany exactly 50 years ago, and that was the first fox I have ever taken in Germany. May not sound exciting to some, but it was pleasantly memorable to me. It is always nice to add to one’s lifetime hunting log. For me, that fox was really important – not all trophies have big antlers.
The group’s two-day bag was most successful: 13 red deer, 2 mouflon, 80 wild boar, 19 roe deer, 11 foxes and 2 raccoons for a total of 127 animals. Hunt Master Ruediger Krato and his many drivers helped assure such a success. These guys are amazing.
The occasion for the hunt was an unveiling of new products from Carl Zeiss Sports Optics at the company’s manufacturing headquarters in Wetzlar, Germany, located roughly 50 km from the hunting area.
Safari Club International and Zeiss, an SCI corporate sponsor, share a long, rich and storied history with each other. Certainly, many SCI members use Zeiss optics while hunting.