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I knew what Baden-W�rttemberg was, having looked it up because I knew that was where we would be hunting. It is 13,800 square miles that border France and Switzerland and it contains the Rhine valley, the upper Danube and Neckar valleys, and the Black Forest. Baden-W�rttemberg is a little bigger than the state of Maryland, and the Black Forest is 90 miles long.
"Is the ceremony back there in the square customary in German hunting?" I asked.
"It is customary," he said. "There are many customs and rituals here in the Black Forest."
"Hunting in the United States is recreation, a sport," I said.
"Hunting is a sport, yes. But here it is a tradition," and he stopped, waiting to get his English straight.
"Formerly, if you read the history here, you had the kings and the counts and law—hunting law—the only law of these feudal men and all others were nothing. All could not hunt, and hunting in such parts as here was a very big crime. It was to be punished by death. Charles the Great, he punished this with death."
"You mean poaching?" I said.
"Yes, that, and this hunting was a very terrible pleasure for the high people, and it was always together with the process of the country. And, in principle, this is also the same now only transposed in the possibility to hire a country if you have not one for your own."
"It's the feudal system on the first of the month," I said.
"Yes, that, too. You hire for some 1,000 marks a year and then you have the only right to hunt here. And we have very strong rules that were kept from those other times. One must follow the plan of the shooting. One must always know what he is doing."