New U.S. hunters welcomed in traditional German ceremony
November 22, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - In a place where Cistercian monks once gave themselves to prayer and hard work, members from the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden community gave themselves to the fraternity of German hunters.
Twelve citizens were knighted as Jungjaeger during an initiation ceremony for new hunters Nov. 6, surrounded by torches and the medieval walls of the Eberbach Monastery.
The Jaegerschlag goes back to an old tradition celebrating the spirit of brotherhood in the joint experience of hunting rather than focusing on adding to the lunch menu.
"In the early days of the United States, when you couldn't hunt, you didn't eat," said Col. Matthew Mattner, V Corps chief of staff and Hunting, Fishing and Sports Shooting Advisory Council president, in his address to hundreds of German and American hunters and friends of the sport who had gathered for the annual event.
"Hunting is much more formal here, very steeped in tradition, very organized," Mattner remarked. Getting involved in the garrison's hunting program was one of the first things he did upon arrival in Wiesbaden three years ago. "It's a lifestyle," said Mattner, who has been a hunter for 34 years. "It's very natural."
"I would like to thank our German friends for giving us the opportunity to be part of this wonderful tradition here," Mattner said in between sounds of the brass group providing the musical framework for the festive event in traditional uniforms.
Anyone can come along and enjoy the camaraderie of Wiesbaden's hunters, with the option of becoming a member of Outdoor Recreation's official hunting program.
The German-American group meets for a joint Stammtisch once a quarter and for numerous hunting events throughout the year. Younger applicants have to be 18 years old by the time they take the test for obtaining a hunting license.
The most senior Jungjaeger to be knighted that evening at the historic Eberbach Monastery grounds was Brig. Gen. Ricky Gibbs, V Corps acting commanding general. Like his fellow hunters, he was introduced to the ranks of the brotherhood with the words "May the first schlag or stroke on your shoulder knight you a hunter; may the second enable you to always do what is right; may the third ensure you never give up the hunter's honors."