Giant Irish Deer (Megalocerus giganteus)
A couple weeks ago I had a brief “tour” of central Europe on another business trip and was lucky enough not to have any travel disruptions due to the brutally cold weather.
I really believe that the atavist passion for hunting still pulses very strongly inside the human soul, even if the rather thin varnish of a contemporary and almost metrosexual civilization tries to deny it.
On the first night in Gdansk I ordered a great wild boar dish, a fantastic roast complemented by forest mushrooms and wild berry sauce. A good Argentinian Malbec enhanced the awesome dish.
My choice of a “wild game” dish brought up a discussion about hunting and my undisguised passion for it. And most people are at a minimum curious about hunting and after a bit or a lot of conversations I generally find out that many people are very supportive of hunting, both as a sport and as a wildlife management tool. And as more people got engaged in our conversation it became apparent that many of them had either hunted, knew someone or had a relative that did it, or have an interest to do so.
A couple days later I came to Munich for more business meetings. On the way to a meeting in Dachau while driving at an Autobahn and close to the Munich International Airport I saw a small deer herd appreciating the warm sun on the bitterly cold morning. They were at a tree line, exactly under an elevated shooting platform and just a couple days after the season closed. Apparently deer in Germany know the calendar as well as those in Michigan.
On the way back I saw several large European hares peacefully sunning on a stubble field.
Besides that I did two very nice things. First I had a very nice discussion with a colleague, Thomas, who is in the process of getting a German hunting license. This is a long and somewhat complex process and I will describe it in detail in the near future.
Second, I had the opportunity to once again visit the DEUTSCHES JAGD- UND FISCHEREIMUSEUM (www.jagd-fischerei-museum.de) in Neuhauser Strasse 2, downtown Munich.
The museum is very nice and as the name implies it is dedicated to the German hunting and fishing culture, mainly from the XVII to the late XIX centuries, and also to the natural history of the main animals that are pursued there.
On going up the first flight of stairs we are greeted by Diana, our goddess, peaceful and permanent in brown marble. As I was admiring her I called my wife and we had a brief discussion about real women and their curves, so well represented by the statue, and not like many of the “unreal” plastic surgery altered contraptions that the media tries to sell us nowadays. There is nothing wrong with small breasts, a nice tummy and good hips on the women we love.
The main hall on the second floor was mostly under renovation, but it has two features that are worthwhile mentioning. One is an interactive series of displays focused on children, as they can touch and feel the different mounted animals and allow them to develop a much deeper appreciation for the animals than by only looking through a glass window. Some of the mounts show signs of wear and tear, but that is what it is all about.
A couple steps from there, on the way to the floor’s main hall there was one of the nicest use of digital technology that I ever saw: a virtual trout stream.
Besides the calming sound of running water the stream and all its elements, from falling leaves to large brown trout, react to our presence, or better our intrusion. When we step on the “stream” ripples disturb its surface. As I tried to approach the large trout they would either hide under the banks or swim away. I felt like a child and could have played there for hours.
There was also a film on how hunters interact with the environment and are a critical factor on its sustainable use.
As a rule, we hunters tend to talk a lot among ourselves, but we do not spend enough time promoting the sport and recruiting new disciples of Saint Hubert.
The value of places like German Hunt and Fishing Museum add to our need to continue to educate non-hunters in order to maintain the social acceptability of hunting and fishing is absolutely great. In order to have a future we all need to promote hunting as a health, safe and relevant activity.