Fifteen American citizens were initiated into the Jaegerschaft Wiesbaden on July 25 in a ceremony overseen by US Army officials at the historic Jagdschloss Platte in Wiesbaden, Germany. The Jaegerschaft Wiesbaden, a community of hunters located in the area, welcomed the 15 new “Jungjäger,” or hunting apprentices, with a traditional ceremony that dates back to the Middle Ages.

“It is an honor to be among the Jungjäger,” Dr. Robert Schloesser, who was part of the ceremony, said in a press release. “I still have my Jägerbrief [hunting certificate] from 1961. I’m proud of you guys, and you’re lucky to be able to take advantage of the hunting tradition here in Germany.”

Hunting is a revered tradition in Germany and the steps to becoming a hunter, especially one inducted into the Jungjäger, can be very different than what hunters experience in the United States. It took months of training, preparation, and the testing of skills before the students could attend the ceremony. The hunters were introduced to the custom through the US Army’s Outdoor Recreation program, which hosted a three-month training course. The students then had to pass separate written, oral, and marksmanship exams before being presented with their first German hunting licenses.

“Right now I’m just excited and glad this is over with,” said Britni Sonntag, one of the new apprentices. “It’s all brand new to me.”

Like several of the other students, Sonntag had never hunted before coming to Germany.

The time-honored ceremony included a ritual involving a long hunting blade, which is customarily placed on an inductee’s shoulder not unlike the sword used in a knighting ceremony. The knife is then stroked against the shoulder, anointing the recipient as a hunter, to always hunt ethically, and to invoke the hunter’s code of honor. The apprentice is then given a hunting knife and drinks a portion of red wine.

“It’s like a secret fraternity, this informal sense of nobility,”said Daniel Tedesco.

Interspersed throughout the training period was a focus on accurate shooting and the art of making a swift kill. Much like American hunters, German sportsmen and women place an emphasis on ethical shots.

The ceremony was attended by US Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander Colonel Mary Martin and Command Sergeant Major Roy Rocco, who congratulated the hunters after the ceremony.

Image courtesy US Army

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