Sad thoughts...


AH senior member
Jun 7, 2018
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Zimbabwe, Namibia, Southafrica, Mosambique
Around 1982, I came to Southern Africa to spend some voluntary time on a farm, which finally turned into 15 great years, or better into "best-time-of-my-life" which I never will forget!
Now in Europe, most things have changed! I spend my offtime not in the wild, as I did in Africa. No, my "wild" today is a roughly 300 hectare sized rented batch, situated in the most west of Germany, next to the dutch border. Landscape is mostly huge agriculture fields with some little islands of bush or small forest. Also some houses and farmsteads in between. This is also home for some red deer, seldom wild hog, few rabbits and some secret predators like red fox, some sorts of weasels and, as present, birds like pheasant, dugs and geese. Here is my place, here I try to "hunt" today, but "protect" would get closer to the facts .
Right now, all in all, I would say, I'm a truly dedicated but also reserved hunter. Surprisingly, it does not upset my inner hunter ego to come home with an empty bag. With the years, You know, it starts to feel much better, to spare the shot and just watch and enjoy the scene when game is in sight. Why? I try to explain.

Germany. It's very much different to wide open african spaces with that enormous count and variety of game and wildlife far down there in the south of the world. Here in Central Europe are much, much, much more people but much, much less land and ... next to zero untouched nature.
Every squaremeter is counted, used or even raped, with machines or chemicals, most both. Intense used land, the soil reckless treated as hard a doghater wouldn't treat his dog. Land, which is forced to produce vegetable, corn and grain like a manmade industrial plant, the only focus on maximum rentability.
No mercy for nature, game or insects left. Even bees, some years back still around in abudance, belong meanwhile to the top group of endagered spezies.
Everything is regulated, poisened or left as dead flesh behind the big size monster machines, which are designed to handle those big portions of land in short time.

"Enjoying" outdoors means here something else, which doesn't has much to do with "Joy". No comparison to those unforgettable days in the endless, manless and mostly untouched bush of Southern Africa. Germany means sharing, even silence. You are never alone. Never unseen. Never unwatched. Behind every clump of grass or tiny bush there might be hiding some walker, mushroomer, lover, jogger, kids hanging out or just an old lady, walking the fat dog or having a pee. Sometimes in the fields, if the weather fits, it feels like rushhour at the shopping mall. People with people, more People with dogs or people with no dogs or just dogs strolling on their own. On the path, in the woods, in the fields, yes, all over. So before anybody is getting into real hunting or even thinking about taking any shot at anything, make damned sure, the target doesn't wear Nike's.

Later on, when I'm out in the evening, thank god, all this mass of people have vanished behind their TV's, the dogs dozing in their baskets, the joggers finished with their ambitious schedule, the last walkers did their final round, then things turn back to normal. The light of day is gently fading away, piece by piece in slow motion, typical for the nothern hemisphaere. The sound of evening traffic washes to me like waves would do on a near by beach. Night is already standby, the tired air turns foggy, the street lights over there get switched on. The noisy messy world is echoing down like a big nasty bear falling asleep. Gratefully. Suddenly, short before darkness and just for some minutes, the magic of a little teespoon full of nature is waking up and, if lucky, very shy red deer appears from nowhere on the agriculture optimised scene, some rabbits hopping into the open too, like ghosts in twilight zone, floating over GPS guided rows of soil, demonstrating their godgiven right of freedom. Too late, too little light to certainly indentify each sex or age or even size of the animals. Crouching in the hide, binos on my eyes, the loaded gun ready next to me, there would be, for sure, the one or other chance to think about doing what hunters normally do ... but then that bitter sad voice in Yourself whispers earnest to You, that those creatures, which have hidden away the whole day to remain undetected by all this human stupid terror, they have truly earned that little break and peace. You emphatically cancel every thought about doing any harm to those unenviable animals. Enjoying only with the eyes what nature offers, light is finally fading out and then it's dark. Time to go home I guess. Unwilling, because I enjoy the stillness and the peace of this moment even so. A fresh breeze is coming up and makes me feel chilly. All the sudden I feel like a foreigner, like an intruder, like one, who doesn't belong here. A thought jumps into my mind, that we all are so wrong annoying our world, our nature, our wildlive and even ourselfs with our reckless human way of life. A strange feeling and fear deep in my heart comes up and touches me like cheating one of those rare best friends with the knowledge in mind, that there is no way back, no chance of redemption. Ever.

But I don't want to bother You with my thoughts or empty my sad heart on You. The reason for writing this is actually that I enjoyed so many times Your great stories and memories in here. You brought me so many times back into the african bush, just in my mind. Feeling often like sitting next to You looking into the same campfire You do, when You guys telling all this great stories about today, yesterday and so many days before. Sipping on a glas of african red wine, feeling the warmth of the fire in the oven, my dog next to me and watching this bushman TV with everyday's new programm. Open eyes, actually not seeing what You're staring at, You remember Your own stories and experiences. You have them all in front of You, one after the other. Digging out old tales about people, animals and happenings, some with happy, some with sad end. The fascinating lives of man and beast, unique smells and sounds and even some unknown secrets about Africa, published in Your stories, may be lost forever if not. I feel that I owe You something, at least a story of mine to give back and maybe keep Your "campfire" burning?

Respect the world, the game and allways use enough gun!
Tis a sad world we live in where the only wilds left are in a man’s minds eye longing for bygone eras , and even in the stillness of the failing light one has but to listen for the encroachment of men and know that natures bounty is lost to them forever.
Waxing melancholy, one might say, if one was of a poetic bent.
Not to take away from the OP but along the same thoughts, many moons ago, my dad ramrodded the building of a hunting cabin in central Pennsylvania. Hand built by my him, my brothers and his relatives, it was on a rough dirt road miles from the closest village. There were a few houses on it still occupied and left over from the logging days, CCC camp and WW2. Get caught there during a snow storm without four wheel drive and you might be there until a farmer ran a tractor down the road. At some point in the '60s during the deer season, a hunter who had a cabin further up the road stopped by with a petition to get it paved. My father was extremely adamant about it and said NO! He knew if the road was paved, the isolation and serenity would be lost forever. None of us signed and the man went on his way. Within a couple years the road was widened and paved. Fast forward to today, on that road within five miles, there's a campground with at least fifty campers, an office and shower building, a retirement home, an extended care facility and at least twenty new homes. Over time, I was the only one who used and maintained it and eventually we disposed of the place a few years ago. Now it's just a memory, albeit a bittersweet one.

Jony Mitchell said it best.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
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I can relate to these testimonies. Been there. Yes, it is saddening to the heart to see it and experience it. My experience parallels that of @Hogpatrol and is eerily similar. I hesitate to even go back to the remote cabin my dad built, by hand with no power tools, back between about 1950 and 1955. Google Earth shows the changes.

There is a fairly well known work that delved into this issue. I don't remember the author. It explains the difficulties people experience in trying to go back to a place and time in their past.
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I’ve heard many things about Europe, none of them make me want to even visit as a tourist. This diatribe reinforced that for sure. Most of my ancestors are from Germany. When I was young I thought it would be cool to go there and see it…as I grow older and understand what Europe has become, I could care less about ever seeing it….no insult intended to any of our European brothers or sisters.
We take everything so for granted and forget about what a privilege it is to live close to nature!!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
As a father of teenage daughters in South Africa, with our politics and infrastructure and economy seemingly in freefall to rack and ruin, your musings have served as a timely reminder for me to appreciate what is great about South Africa and why I moved my family back here from Europe/UK.
I feel your pain, every time I return to the town I grew up in. Every piece of property that I hunted as a up and coming hunter for turkey, deer and any small game I could scare up is now wall to wall houses and subdivisions. It is fast becoming the same in the county I live in now.
We all need to do what we can to reverse the trend but it may be a loosing battle.
I’ve heard many things about Europe, none of them make me want to even visit as a tourist. This diatribe reinforced that for sure. Most of my ancestors are from Germany. When I was young I thought it would be cool to go there and see it…as I grow older and understand what Europe has become, I could care less about ever seeing it….no insult intended to any of our European brothers or sisters.

Not all of Europe is like @Rosch wrote

You can read a few hunting reports about members of this site hunting in Europe.
I’ll take uplander01’s trips to Europe if they become available. :cool:
I’ve heard many things about Europe, none of them make me want to even visit as a tourist. This diatribe reinforced that for sure. Most of my ancestors are from Germany. When I was young I thought it would be cool to go there and see it…as I grow older and understand what Europe has become, I could care less about ever seeing it….no insult intended to any of our European brothers or sisters.
Having been to Germany (Bavaria) and Austria once, I would strongly suggest going there for a visit. I was actually quite impressed with the cleanliness and friendly people. Add in nice scenery, history, culture, etc., and it's a quite remarkable part of the world.
I'm not the brightest bulb in the light fixture. Reading this reminded me of one of the greatest blessings in my life, and how I was smart enough, just once in my life, to grab onto something really, really good.

My first year out of college, in the only state I had ever lived in (Kansas), I shot a deer (archery) on the second day of season, and just that quick - my season was over. I remember my elation giving way to "Well, NOW what...?" My solution? I moved to Alaska - within a year.

I spent 6 years in Alaska and loved every minute of it. Without knowing it at the time I lived through the best years of the Mulchatna caribou herd - caribou freaking everywhere, and never an issue filling a tag. At the end of those six years I moved back to Kansas to care for my grandfather in his last years.

I spent five years back in Kansas, and hunted as much as I was able. No matter where I went, or how big the property, it just felt so... tame? Constricted? Frankly I felt claustrophobic. As soon as grandpa passed away I couldn't get back to Alaska fast enough. And now it's been another 22 years of living here.

Maybe at some point the cold and the ruggedness will get to be to much for any given age I happen to hit, but I'm not there yet. Hunting here is not the given (success rate) that deer in Kansas was, but I do OK. ;) I do know that one of the greatest joys in the world for me - the times when I am most at peace - is when I'm hunting and camping somewhere remote here, because I know I am in true, undiluted wilderness. I can't possibly put into words how precious that is to me, and I never want to take it for granted.

So from someone clinging to what they have for as long as they can, thank you for your shared introspection. I feel what you are saying good sir.

A warm tent in a nasty storm, seemingly a million miles from anywhere. Just the bears, moose, birds, fish, and us. If you aren't drinking your coffee something like this, you just aren't drinking your coffee right.

Same here with the roads......when they dirt and bit rough only slow change...but when that road is upgraded...especially if they tar it ....well that's can see more people moving in....Bush cleared....bags of charcoal for sale where non uses to be.....and it speeds up rapidly......even on the rough part of the road on way to us the Bush is being cleared for small farm plots.....depressing part is a lot of it is quite rocky and no good for crops...but trees and Bush cleared waste as what they try to grow is not going to be much good, if it survives at yeah lot more virgin Bush here but its disappearing at a rate of knots.....government signed up at that COP thing in Glasgow to stop or reduce deforestation, along with governments from most surrounding countries...I just laughed when I read that....load of bullshit from wont be too long with the population explosion that these countries will be a big farm.....
I'd love to visit Germany and other countries in Europe even for a non hunting tourist vacation. Many of you here and many of the guys I work with were in the military/contractors and stationed there. They did/do all of the tourist things there on the Government's dime and some of you continue to do so. For the rest of us, how many of you could afford to/did visit/hunt there on your own dime? I'm only asking because I see a vacation/hunting trip to Europe as an expensive venture out of the financial zip code for most of us, compared to say hunting in Africa or vacationing somewhere else? Maybe I'm wrong?
There's a pharmaceutical plant a few miles down the road from me. In addition to the woods they removed for the factory, they took down more acreage out front and planted grass. Now it's all solar panels. I'll have to do more research to figure out the benefits of the trees versus producing the panels, the metal stands and the concrete footers plus their life expectancy.
Man, I was happy as could be when the county paved the road to our ranch entrance . . . then all of the fur lined panty crowd started moving in and building their weekend houses. Be careful what you ask for

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