A lot of the
questions on the written and the oral have to do with law—the protection of
animals and plants, the firearm laws, the law on the examination of trichinous
meat, the law on the commerce and transport of game, the laws on leasing
hunting land and the laws governing hunting clubs and societies. I wondered how
the guys I knew in the Perth Amboy Rod and Gun Club would do on that last
is a long book, just 19 pages shorter than my edition of Crime and Punishment,
and it has very small print. I asked Hans to let me see it and when I held it
in my hand and hefted it, it reminded me of the Uniform Code of Military
Justice. I asked Hans, "But why do they make it so hard?"
"Some say it
is because of the Hirschsprung," he said.
that?" I said.
"It is a deer,
a white deer that jumps over valleys to save the maidens from distress. The
examination is so that no hunter will shoot the white deer."
I figured that
life insurance on that deer must be pretty cheap, all things considered, but I
wasn't so sure about the maidens. I reached for my glass of wine, picked up a
piece of cake and the hunting horns went off again.
"Is that the
end of lunch?" I said. "It is the beginning of the afternoon hunt,"
We hunted that
afternoon. We hunted valleys and hills, old roads, stands of trees, cornfields
and vineyards. There were more pheasant and partridge, and there were hares.
They shot the hares in a flat valley with brush lines dividing the ground into
rectangles. The dogs would drive the hares out of the low trees and bushes, and
the hares would start out across the open ground dodging, turning, running
until they saw the other line of hunters, and then go back, jinking, jibing
until somebody guessed the right lead angle. Once, later in the afternoon, the
drivers spooked a boar.
But it wasn't just
one boar. It was the boss boar and his harem and all the kids from the open
classroom. I never saw that boar, or his ladies, or the future boars of
Freiburg, but I heard them. They took off like the start of a stock-car race.
Somebody who spoke English told me later that the male just picked the weakest
hunter and ran right at him with the seraglio and the nursery right behind.
They blew through the line of hunters before anyone could get a rifle cartridge
out of his pocket and into his Drilling. I found out afterward that boars were
on the list that day, along with birds and hares and foxes, but that if you're
not thinking boar, you don't get one.
Finally, when the
sun was nearly down and the green of the trees was darker, we were on an old
road that led up a little hill and down into an orchard. There was green grass
on the ground and some yellow apples on the trees, and when we got to an open
place in the middle of the orchard everyone slowed down, spread out and
stopped. Just as in the morning, the hunters were in one place, the drivers in
another, the horn players off a little way and me by myself. The sun was going
down fast now, heading for the black mountains, and the light appeared to be
coming through a window in the late afternoon. Everything had green and yellow
and brown edges, and I wondered if the sun was as tired as I was.