European countries have enviable hunting traditions. Passed between multiple generations for hundreds of years, they shape communities and instill the most important values in young and aspiring hunters. At the same time, technologies like thermal vision are changing the ways of hunting. Being firm believers that one does not have to oppose the other, we’re trying to find the balance between both worlds – the old and the new.
Germany is known for many things, deeply rooted hunting traditions being no exception. Passed from one hunter to the other, and thus – from one generation to the next, they are nearly as common today as they were hundreds of years ago. “It’s something most hunters practice, and it shows how much respect and honor one has for the animal and for nature,” says Matthias Lusch, a local hunter. He adds that Waidgerechtigkeit – fairness – is the basis of German hunting ethics.
Matthias’ counterpart from Germany, Theresa Anheuser, tells us that, if she had to pick the most common local tradition, playing the hunting horn would probably be the one: “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a driven hunt, a hunt, or a hide. If someone can play the hunting horn, it is used.”
Matthias explains that particular traditions depend on the host: “He sets the rules for his hunt and which traditions and customs he lives on, so these are also observed in the next generation. A tradition that old hunters still practice is that young ones are only allowed to hunt predators for a year before they can hunt deer or wild boars.”
Christoph Studeny, a hunter from neighboring Austria, tells us that his homeland is also keen on practicing centuries-old traditions, of which there are too many to count. They cover every aspect of the hunt, with clothing being no exception. “For example, there are hunting hats with traditional trophies on them. It could be the teeth of a red fox or, say, hair of a chamois – that depends on the region where you hunt.”
Of course, the customs extend far beyond the hunter’s appearance. To Christoph, the most important ones are those that honor the animal: “With the so-called last bite, we find a way to appreciate the successful hunt, to give the creature its last meal for the way up, and to say thank you for harvesting the best quality of meat.”
Hunting traditions tend to be focused on honor, fairness, and respect for nature. And so is the use of thermal vision. “The most important changes that thermal vision brought are the ethical ones. It doesn’t matter if you need help during a fawn rescue or if you have to identify the right wild boar out of a sounder; thermal vision is very useful. Of course, it gives us a big advantage in comparison to the wild animals, but it also allows us to act more ethically than before,” explains Christoph.
Both Theresa and Matthias note that thermal vision is extremely helpful when it comes to minimizing damage in the agricultural sector. “Wild boars usually cause a lot of damage in maize and cereal cultivation, but also in vineyards. The thermal imaging technology made it possible to hunt the game quickly and in a targeted manner,” says Theresa.
“We can hunt wild boar and predators at all times. Nobody is dependent on the moon anymore,” adds Matthias.
Perhaps in every aspect of life, there are those who welcome innovation and those who resist it. Yet, when it comes to hunting, the emergence of new does not eliminate the old. “My experience is that technology does not mean that the old traditions, such as placing the animal on its right side and giving it the final bite, are forgotten – rather the opposite,” says Theresa.
Matthias also believes that we can achieve harmony between modern technologies and longstanding tradition: “The technology is only changing the way we hunt, but it does not stand in the way of tradition itself. Some hunters think that the animals don’t have a chance anymore, and that’s why they don’t hunt with new technologies. However, it is better to hunt with thermal devices at night before shooting at animals that cannot be identified as male or female, especially wild boar. I think it comes down to using the technology sensibly and within the framework of the law.”
Theresa, too, stresses the importance of accurate use of technology – as well as responsible development. “It is particularly important that the technology is precise and reliable and used carefully and in moderation. We, hunters, have a duty to avoid animal suffering. Then, the equipment is expected to be as error-free as possible in order to avoid unnecessary suffering,” believes the German huntress.
Whenever discussing technology, innovation and their relationship with tradition, it’s always curious to peek into the future. And while neither of us has a crystal ball (yet), our ambassadors are pretty optimistic about what’s in store. “New inventions and products will definitely change our traditions or habits, but this doesn’t have to be bad. When I look back at the past five years, I realize how many opportunities and possibilities thermal vision has brought us. I am looking forward to the future, the new inventions, and how they will support us as hunters,” shares the Austrian hunter.
Matthias, meanwhile, feels like it’s up to every hunter to take personal responsibility for preserving traditions: “It’s up to me to uphold and pass on these traditions. In Germany, we say that when the nation’s customs die, the nation’s soul also dies. So, it’s up to us to show our character and to preserve what our fathers and grandfathers taught us while remaining open to new technologies.”
Theresa also touches on the perception of hunting. While we work hard to show it goes far beyond the shot, some still fail to notice this. “Currently, thousands of hunters in Germany are looking for fawns to save them from being mown down. This is just one of the many tasks that hunting entails. That is why I hope that hunting will not be made more difficult in the coming years. Hunters are also conservationists; they work together with farmers and look after the welfare of the game.”
We sincerely hope that more and more people will be able to see hunting the way Theresa – and all our ambassadors – see. In the meantime, we will be working hard to make sure that, in the next five years, thermal vision will open even more possibilities for hunters and nature enthusiasts alike.
Before purchasing any night or thermal vision device, please make sure you adhere to the local legislation and only use it when it is allowed. Our ambassadors come from various countries and travel a lot, which allows them to test different devices. We do not encourage or support the illegal use of our devices in any events. If you wish to learn more about export and sales restriction policy, please visit the following link: Export and Sales Restriction Policy.