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Ancient Extravaganza In the Black Forest
George V. Packard
October 04, 1976
Hunting is not usually considered a spectator sport, but the author was privileged to accompany a party of German hunters and was deeply moved by the reenactment of a fall ritual dating back to Charlemagne
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October 04, 1976

Ancient Extravaganza In The Black Forest

Hunting is not usually considered a spectator sport, but the author was privileged to accompany a party of German hunters and was deeply moved by the reenactment of a fall ritual dating back to Charlemagne

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But there was plenty of soup and plenty of bread and wine, and then there was cake, the kind you get a piece of for breakfast in Germany. I was full and happy. Everyone was talking and laughing there under the trees, and then I realized that someone was standing behind me. It was Hans with his bright blue sweater, and he was still smiling. "My father has asked me to speak with you," he said, sitting beside me.

I thought that maybe I had done something wrong, violated an 800-year-old law of Frederick Barbarossa or something, and I started to get nervous.

"What did he say?" I asked.

"He thought that you would be interested in the examination."

"What examination?" I said, wondering if I had to take it, and what you needed to pass.

"It is the examination in order to hunt in Germany," Hans said. "Everyone must take it who hunts."

I felt better. Everyone but me, I thought, because very shortly after graduation from high school, from college, from graduate school, from Uncle Sam, from driving school, from the eye doctor, right after I had done my SSATs, PSATs, SATs, GREs and GCTs I had decided I would never take another examination again, ever. And I haven't.

"Sure," I said. "I'd like to know about it. What's it like?"

Hans said, "In Germany we call it 'The Impossible Examination.' "

"Tell me about it," I said, and he did.

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