The traditions – Part 1 “Woodcock”

You that are hunting probably know that hunting is associated with all kind of traditions…the traditions vary from place to place and country to country…

Well let me tell you about my first encounter with the hunting traditions here in Denmark 😊

I was invited to go hunting at a place called Kibæk…not far away from where I live in Denmark. It was in middle of October…I remember it because I became a real hunter that day…😊 let me explain…

Well in Denmark there is a saying that you are not a real hunter until you get your first woodcock.

This bird is something special for all the hunters in Denmark, and it gets the highest place at the end of the hunt on a “parade” even before the Red stag.

Parade at the end of the hunt is when animals are placed, and we hunters pays our tribute to the animals

To get back to the story…

We got to the hunting area and said greeted all the hunters that were there already… if you have a hat on it is polite to take the hat of while greeting other hunters. It is considered a nice gesture and respectful in the hunting community here in Denmark.

 We went inside an old house that is been used by hunters of this consortium to meet up, eat breakfast…

Actual house

We went inside and grabbed a hot cup of coffee and sat down by the table and started talking about the hunt. Soon other hunters came inside in the house and one of them had breakfast for all of us that was going to hunt there on the day.

We ate our breakfast as we spoke about the hunting…I especially paid attention to the stories about previous hunts in the area…

I heard someone say that there was a good chance to get some woodcock’s on this day…I said to the hunter next to me I have never got this bird before and I really hope that I get the chance today…

The hunter I was speaking to was someone I just met there that day, an older more experienced hunter which was member of this hunting consortium in Kibæk.

After we got our breakfast and our coffee we had a little toast of the Danish Snaps and got ready to go hunting…Now some of you might think that we are crazy drinking and go hunting…let me stop you there…we are talking about a small shot glass…just to get the warm inside our bodies before stepping outside in the cold from the warm house.

We went outside grabbed our gear and were ready to go hunting. The leader of the hunt started with what we call “Parole” her in Denmark. This means that he starts up telling us about what is going to happened on the specific hunt, what we are allowed to shoot, and safety requirements.

We will also get divided in 2 groups.  First group are the hunters with dogs so called “Drivers” that are going to walk through the area with their dogs and make noise trying to scare out the animals towards the second group of hunters known as shooters.

The group of hunters with dogs went first to get in their positions for the first “Såt” (Hunting area) while we stayed behind and waited for the leader to tell us it’s time to go to our positions.

“Drivers” with dogs getting ready

We are going on this hunt to go through 3-4 hunting areas (Såt) on the hunting grounds.

After some time, the leader of the hunt said its time to go and we all followed him. As we were going, once in a while he will stop and take his hat of and point to a position and ask a hunter to stay there. The hunter now takes his hat of and thanks the hunting leader for the position. They say good luck to each other and so this goes until there is no more hunters (Shooteers) back.

I was placed in a good spot the hunting leader told me when he placed me there. I was now waiting there for the sound of the horn which means the hunt has started.

A moment later the horn sound went off and the hunt had started…I could hear the noise that the drivers were making, the dogs barking…and I was very excited…

Suddenly I could hear the gun shots, but still I see nothing…as the noise of the drivers and dog barking getting closer to my position I get more and more exited and anxious…

Suddenly I see a dog close to me…this is a sign that the drivers are very close to my position…

All of the sudden there is a woodcock flying right in front of me…it is a fast bird…I raise my gun and take aim…but as I do I catch a glimpse of orange color, in the woods and I decide that it was too dangerous to shoot. It was an Orange color hunting jacket that the hunters with dogs use while going through hunting area… I let the bird fly by…15-20 seconds later my neighbor hunter that was on the next position shoots…I hear shots and I remember I was thinking it must be the woodcock that I did not shoot at.

The drivers went by and I realized that this was my only chance to get something in this area…I heard some more shots and after some while I could hear the horn signaling that the hunt was over in this area of the hunting ground.

Hunters from the nearby shooting positions came by and we went on towards the old house. As we got closer to the house I could see hunters holding the game they had shot… someone was holding a woodcock, some a hare, some a pheasant…some were carrying a roe deer…It looked like it was a good hunt so far…

As I stood there in front of the house talking to some hunters about the hunt so far and my first encounter with the woodcock the old hunter whom I was talking to during the breakfast came to me and asked “Did you get a woodcock”

I said I had a chance to shoot one, but I could not take the shoot as it was unsafe to doo and I let it go to the next shooting position.

I swear I could see a bit sadness in his eyes…He said you will get one later I’m sure 😊

We went in to the house to get something to eat as the time was about noon…Here we sat at the same place as when we got our breakfast and me and the old hunter spoke much about hunt in general and specially woodcock.

When we were finished eating and I was getting ready with gear this old nice man came to me and said you are coming with me…I will place you at something we call “Kings position” there I’m sure you will get your woodcock. I was really exited…just thinking about it…”Kings position”…this must be something good.

I went with him and after we walked for a while we reached the new area where we were going to hunt…we stopped, and he said you should stand here…this is what we call a “kings position”  I will go with the rest of the “drivers” and for sure something will come this way and he pointed the directions to me.  

He took his hat off and said “Knæk og bræk” which is a phrase for “Good luck” in hunting here in Denmark…I off course did the same and wished him good luck to.

He went on with his dog and I loaded my shotgun…after some time I heard the sound of the horn again…This meant we have started a second hunt 😊

I was looking in the directions that he pointed out and waited anxiously…I heard dogs, drivers yelling and shouting, gunshots…still nothing came my way…

But I said to myself…Have patience… suddenly I hear a pheasant lift of and start flying…the are pretty slow on liftoff and make a lot’s of noise…I see it in the air…I take my gun up, aim and shoot…It goes down 😊

It was shot dead in the air so no need to worry if it will be there when the hunt is over…We of course are not allowed to move from the shooting position until the hunt is over…usually the dogs pick it up and bring them to you or you go and pick the animals up after the hunt is finished…

Not many minutes after the driver chain started shooting…I counted 6-7 shots…they were yelling “Woodcock” and I see it flying directly at my position…I take aim and shoot…I miss it on the first shot… I shoot the second shot and I see the woodcock falling…but not sure how good the shot was…

Me with my first “Woodcock”

I stand still on “Kings position” as the hunt is still not over thinking about if it is there or not…the bird went down in pretty dense area, and I was wondering if I will be able to find it there…

I stood there for a while until I heard the sound of the horn indicating that the hunt was over…I think at the same moment the I heard the sound of the horn the old hunter appeared next to me with his dog…

“Did you get it” he said

Yeah I said but it’s going to be hard to find it in there I replied as I was pointing in the directions of the trees…

He said don’t worry if it’s there the dog will find it…And at that exact moment I realized that there was an tradition been practiced in Denmark regarding the first hunted woodcock…what it is I will tell you about in my next post…

Anyways…the dog went down in to the densed area and 15-20 seconds later it came back with my first “Woodcock” in his mouth…

Read my next post regarding the Tradition associated with hunters first woodcock here in Denmark

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