Letzter Bissen-Last Bite

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#1
I have heard that some European hunters perform rituals such as, in the case of the German hunter 'The Last Bite' over the body of the grassed deer. Has anyone witnessed these rituals or know anything about them. They sound very interesting. I wonder how far back these practices go. Could they have been known and performed by the Ancient Germanic and Celtic hunters?

Answers please to either Jack Hargreaves or Fred Dineage of the 'How' team. ;)

I have my own deer ritual that I perform, it involves me kneeling quietly at the side of the deer for a moments reflection of the days events, laying my hand on the deer's neck and then saying loudly 'Yum...yum vension sausage for tea'! 'Ding dang doo...snicky snacky snoo'! :lol:
 

MarkH

Well-Known Member
#2
Hi

As you have probably guessed by now I do the 'Letzter Bissen' wherever and whenvere practical. The tradition is very ols and is based on a reconciliation between the dead game animal, its soul, spirit and God. In earlier times it was restricted to male game animals.
One can also place a branch on the carcass and this notifies other hunters that the animal has been claimed by the hunter.
In essence it is a mark of respect to the hunted animal.



Mark
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#3
Cheers for the info Mark. Seriously I always take a minute to honour the deer and follow the tradition that was taught to me by the first stalker I shot with. He would toast the deer with a single malt from his hip flask. He would spill a gulg on the deer and the ground, then offer me a sip before toasting a good kill and taking a sip himself, we then would shake hands and congratulated each other on a good stalk and a clean kill. Very moving experience!
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#4
I found this on Deer-UK's letters page:-

To Deer-UK,

I was stationed in Giessen, Germany for 3 years and developed a friendship with a German officer who was a hunter and fisher. There is a German hunting tradition where the hunter places an evergreen twig in the mouth of the game just harvested and places one in his hat. Do you know the name of this tradition and it's origin? I would really appreciate any information on this. Thanks.


Sincerely,


Larry Hale

Reply from John Cadman;

The name of the Branch Sign that is placed in the mouth of male cloven hoofed game, capercaille and blackcock is the "letzter Bissen" which literally means "last bite" and is a mark of respect to the game. The "Schützenbruch" or hunters/shooters branch is presented to a hunter after shooting cloven hoofed game, the fox, cock capercaillie and blackcock. It can also be presented for shooting badgers, although this is not always the case. The branch should be placed in the hat band on the left side of the hat and officially, should be worn until sunset on the day that the animal was harvested.

The origin of these traditions goes back a long way. But interestingly, when German Hunting Law was re-defined during the pre-war and early war years by Herman Goering, both these and many other traditions involving "Branch Signs" were included. They are principally a method of signals between hunters to convey a series of important messages and include warnings, directions to follow, routes not to follow and many others.
It is interesting to note that many of the mainland European Nations have a similar, and in some cases, identical, form of signs.


Hope this is of interest.


John Cadman
 

monynut

Well-Known Member
#6
Interesting subject this one, if you check out a lot of the european hunting DVDs the traditions are quite well illustrated on many of them.
 

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
#7
It is uplifting to know that a great many of my fellow stalkers on this site treat their quarry with the respect that it deserves, unlike the mass killers of Glenfeshi etc.

I for one always say a prayer over every deer I take with my rifle, and with many of the clients I have had over the years, some have become quite emotional, which I personally have no problem with at all. With every Stag or Buck I have taken a client out for or shot myself I have always patted the deer on the neck and whispered " Rest easy my friend" that is just my own way. Most of us have our own particular way of paying homage if you can call it that, for the animal that will now go into the food chain, or will fill our freezers and keep our families and friends in fresh meat.

I have hunted with Bushmen, Zulu's, Shona and Patonka in Africa and with many other hunters in America and parts of Europe all have shown the upmost of respect for the animal, this is what makes us all on this forum true hunters and stalkers. Showing respect at all times for the quarry, to my mind is the mark of a good professional stalker/hunter.
 
D

Douglas

Guest
#8
Beowulf said:
He would spill a gulg on the deer and the ground, then offer me a sip before toasting a good kill and taking a sip himself, we then would shake hands and congratulated each other on a good stalk and a clean kill. Very moving experience!
Sounds like a waste of good malt. :p
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#9
I'm getting emotional just reading this thread. I get really annoyed when people tell me that as a deer stalker I am an evil insensitive monster! 'How can I kill beautiful innocent Bambi's'! They don't understand the bond between the hunter and the hunted, or the fact that its is the most natural thing in the world.

If I had my way I'd only ever eat meat that I had hunted myself and paid respect to. Food is taken so much for granted in this country, yet TV chefs are worshipped! Any animal I shoot gets my respect even 'Charlie'.

I asked a friend to shoot a wild goat for me recently, he has them on his patch, he brought me a Billy Kid. 'What do you want that stinking thing for'? He asked. The Wife curried it, fantastic meat, even better than venision. I'll get her to post the recipe if anyone is interested. Honestly fellow Stalkers, Goat tastes great!
 
D

Douglas

Guest
#10
sikamalc said:
It is uplifting to know that a great many of my fellow stalkers on this site treat their quarry with the respect that it deserves, unlike the mass killers of Glenfeshi etc.

We make no excuses. We had a job to do and if we hadn't of done it someoe else would have.

I for one always say a prayer over every deer I take with my rifle, and with many of the clients I have had over the years, some have become quite emotional, which I personally have no problem with at all. With every Stag or Buck I have taken a client out for or shot myself I have always patted the deer on the neck and whispered " Rest easy my friend" that is just my own way. Most of us have our own particular way of paying homage if you can call it that, for the animal that will now go into the food chain, or will fill our freezers and keep our families and friends in fresh meat.


I kill to many in the course of a years work to be saying prayers or patting their arses. I'm more interested in ensuring that the beast is shot cleanly, and dies as painless a death as humanely possible.

I have hunted with Bushmen, Zulu's, Shona and Patonka in Africa and with many other hunters in America and parts of Europe all have shown the upmost of respect for the animal, this is what makes us all on this forum true hunters and stalkers. Showing respect at all times for the quarry, to my mind is the mark of a good professional stalker/hunter.

An accurate shot and a a quick death often under extremely testing conditions are more the marks of an professional stalker/hunter in my opinion. Sentimentality is all well and good but does nothing about getting what is sometimes a thankless job done

Thats often the difference between the professional and recreational stalker/hunter
 
D

Douglas

Guest
#11
Beowulf said:
I'll get her to post the recipe if anyone is interested. Honestly fellow Stalkers, Goat tastes great!
Curried Goat fantastic.Had some myself only last weekend.
 

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
#12
I also kill a fair number of beasts a year. That still does not mean I cannot take the time to have a moment to honour what I have shot. That does mean we do not take time and care over shot placement, and I know that if you shoot as many as you claim you do, that now and again things go wrong, I admit they have with me.

Whats wrong with caring and showing due respect. I have seen and heard far to many stories regarding the slaughter by the DC and FC of deer. In the glen where I have managed Red deer and Sika deer for the last 15 years I know of at least two occassions where the deer where driven aginst the forestry fence with dogs and slaughtered. Stalkers my arse, killers more like, with not a care for the deer what so ever.

Yes call me sentimental if you want, but the question is about showing respect for what you hunt, not treating it like a number. Irrespective of how many deer you shoot.
 

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
#13
Oh by the way, I also know that at Glenfeshi the shooting was apparently appaling. A good friend of mine knows the vet who inspected a great many of the carcases, reported to him that a great many of the animals where badly shot, some several times.

Now this is third hand I know, but the man in question has stalked the highlands all his life and has just retired, in fact he use to shoot for Scotland. Thats it for contract killers :evil:
 

Rob Mac

Well-Known Member
#14
Respect

It's interesting to hear about other stalkers post stalk rituals. I don't have a fixed routine, but sit for a minute or two (usually to get my breath back) near the deer enjoying the moment. It's a moment of joy and some sadness - yes, I think there's room for sentimentality here.

I can completely understand why others like to have a ritual. A good stalk, a clean kill, the escapism of a wonderful wood or hill, it's a magical moment. But I'm a recreational stalker and I can take my time and get as sentimental as I like - there usually isn't another bugger for miles.

It was interesting to read Douglas' take on the rituals and sentimentality and I can understand where he's coming from to - apart from Glenfeshie but that would be going off thread! When you're a full time stalker, you've got the same pressures as we recreational stalkers have got in our jobs. I've never been taken out on the hill by a stalker who has got sentimental about the death of a deer, but I've never been out on the hill with a stalker who hasn't had respect for the deer we were going after either.

I'll keep doing it my way. It works for me!
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#15
Same here Rob, I pay alot of money for the privilage of being sentimental about what I shoot. Between the rich tourists and the professionals, us mere hobby stalkers can just about find the occasional deer to level the cross hairs on.
So many post on this site are from novice stalkers struggling to find stalking opportunities. So many organisations/individuals willing to take their hard earned money for the privillage. If I were a professional stalker I would thank God for what I had and the deer that gave me my living. Surely for that reason alone a small amount of respect is due.
 

MarkH

Well-Known Member
#16
The problem with Glenfeshie as I see it is that we in the UK have no tradition of managing large driven hunts using many hunters like in Europe. It is not uncommon to find a hunt involving 100 hunters taking 600 beasts in 2 days with a combination oof beaters and dogs a bit like a pheasant shoot. At the end the animals are either layed out or hung up in neat and tidy rows for 'last respects' before going to the game dealers. I am talking large volumes noy 2-3.

The individuals doing the shooting such as Douglas were doing their job. The real people responsible for the poor handling were the DCS and other government quangoes who organised it so poorly from a PR point of view. Its similar to their presentation of the badger/wild boar issues. Do nothing at all or scorched earth policy.
Sometimes its difficult to pay respect to the animals if you are shooting them in large numbers. Its therefore important that the infrastructure handling the carcassess make the best efforts to be 'respectful ' to the animals if not for their own benefit then for the public who may witness a side of wildlife management they are not used to.
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#17
Good point Mark, unfortunately if these culls are handled badly we all, as stalkers look bad. The anti's can use images of slaughtered deer totally out of context and show them to an already misinformed public.

I worry for the future of hobby deer stalking and I think that the various so called professional Deer management organisations are doing us no favours and doing rather alot to feather their own nests.
 

sikamalc

Administrator
Site Staff
#18
MarkH and Rob, I agree with your comments. It is true that large driven hunts are undertaken on the continent, and again I have no real problem with this. I see from the photo supplied by Mark H that the hunters have ringed the days bag with fresh greenery, part of an ancient ritual and mark of respect for the animals they have taken.

I agree with stalkers such as Douglas having a job to do, what I do not agree with nor will I ever is not showing due respect to the animal that you have taken.
I admit this can be difficult when you are under pressure to produce the cull in a limited time. Two years back, I along with 5 other stalkers undertook the historic cull of Reds on a West coast estate with a bench mark of 200 head. We achieved 180, and I admit there were times when you could not pat its arse and fanny around, the job was to get the beasts and yourself off the hill, but it did not stop me reflecting on each day and having time in the evening to admire the deer and their place in nature.

Deer in this country, especially Red Deer in Scotland seem to be treated like vermin by some organisations, and are nearly always blamed for the environmental damage to the hill and woodlands. It is man that has taken the natural habitat away, and fenced off their wintering grounds, pushing them into smaller areas, thus bringing them into conflict with various people.

Stands down off his soapbox and walks away :rolleyes:
 

Beowulf

Well-Known Member
#19
Well done Sikamalc, I reckon you have it in a nut shell. I have a great deal to do with so called conservation groups and it seems that every year a fresh crop of unigrads have the answer to questions a thousand year old, how to manage the countryside.
Epping Forest was vandalised by Victorian conservationist who prefered the Pre-Raphealite take on history rather than the real and much less entertaining truth. The last of the great limes and the pollarded hornbeams were removed as they were considered relics of less enlightened times. The pollards there now, are mostly trees pruned to look like and replace the trees that dated back to pre Tudor times.

Another example, the Forestry Commissions planting of foreign species of pine and larch in areas unsuitable for growing such trees. The ecology of many of these areas has suffered greatly. Now its decided to rip them all out and regrow the ancient wildwoods again. Tomorrow it will be decided to reinstate the great wild woods of Exmoor and Dartmoor, just to be removed again in fifty years by someone else.

In the last hundred years the British countryside has been butchered. Not even the Black Death, The Highland Clearances or the Naval Act combined have had such an effect. Unfortunately the flora and fauna of our 'green and pleasant land' has taken the brunt, and none more so than our National Deer Herd.

The only two things to my mind that are constant through out the natural history of this country is mans need to hunt and the deer themselves! Now that deserves respect whatever the current fashion dictates.

I like Ronnie Roses's style of conservation, gradual, measured and respectful of the land, its history and its wildlife. I find it comforting to know that many deer stalkers are also very good conservationists and in the position to help to put a 'steadying hand on the tiller' when its needed.
 
D

Douglas

Guest
#20
sikamalc said:
Yes call me sentimental if you want, but the question is about showing respect for what you hunt, not treating it like a number. Irrespective of how many deer you shoot.
Malcom

I think you have the respect thing the wrong way around. Its more important and respectfull to ensure that you do the job right in the first place.
Once the animal is dead it cares nowt about how many silent prayers are said or how gentle its arse is slapped.All the end of hunt rituals and sentimentality in the world have no impact upon that first shot.

I appreciate deer as much as the next guy when they are alive and doing their thing. Once its dead and laid on the ground its just another source of meat for the family or the food industry.
 

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