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Three Days In The Old Country March 1996
Gerhard Schroeder  

Yep, I made it back to Germany, again. This time as part of a business trip, which of course was really neat; inexpensive, short and sweet.

We landed in Paris late Sunday morning, and killed the day by gawking at the Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower. Business held us hostage until Thursday afternoon. That's when I split, and instead of spending another night near Paris, I boarded for Hamburg, old country. After some winter weather delays, Lufthansa finally touched down at about 10pm.

My brother, Helmut, was waiting, dressed like a Russian. Good for him, because it was cold! Temps in the low 20's, with wind from Siberia that got the wind chill down to about zero F. But there was a smile on my face. After years of Arizona heat, finally, real winter again. My visit this time was limited to three days. They went by in a flash.

Being with the family was fun, of course, and there is never enough time to tell it all. Food was fantastic, like goose, Russian wild boar roast, and roe deer back roast.

Speaking of roe deer, they happened to still be in season, doe season. And my brother needed 2-3, but could use up to five. Excuse, I mean, reason enough to grab his drilling and 30-06 bolt action Sauer 80, and head into the cold.

Friday at last light, it really was more like no light, a doe did show up in the meadow, but saw us and ran away into the dark. Through the fat Zeiss scope, her faded outline was barely visible against a background of thin and naked winter woods. There was no snow. I whispered to my brother that it was too dark.

His only reply was: "Just go for it." Fine, then. Eventually she moved a little, and I could see her white butt at the left end of her faded outline.

The blocky #4 reticle was aligned near her "front," and the set trigger gently touched. The image of the doe turned to bright yellow from the muzzle blast. And at the same moment we could hear that something had been struck by the 180 grain Nosler Partition which the Norma factory ammo had spit out. About a hundred steps out, the doe was down, hit high through her lungs.

About that ammo: he had gotten those for the right price (nothing) from a gunsmith who worked at a large retail store, similar to our Gander Mountain, or Cabela's. They were partial boxes, left over from adjusting someone's rifle scope. No big deal, until you consider that each box of 20 rounds would cost him 76 mark, about $50!

Consequently, zeroing in his ‘06 went like this: drive up to a little sand hill at the end of a meadow, set up a board with a black dot on it, and quickly get back into the car to stay out of the cold wind; drive back about 100 steps, and park at the proper angle so you can shoot out the window; lower it to a comfortable level, place a pillow on the glass edge, put the rifle on that, load a shell, set the trigger, aim and fire. Then put everything back in the car, hurry up and close the damn window, drive up to the target, make a scope adjustment, repeat the shooting procedure, and check the target again. The second shot was within 2 inches of the black dot, high and left. "Close enough" was Helmut's determined evaluation, and we went hunting. No fine tuning, no three-shot group, or, unspeakable, a series of three five-shot groups. This wasn't due to economics. It is against the law to zero in a weapon, only allowed on certified ranges! Well, the doe proved him right.

So did the doe on Saturday morning. Yep, we went right back out, and found deer on a small meadow surrounded by woods. There were two bucks in velvet, and that doe. They had seen us stalk closer, and were looking back at us. Too far for an offhand shot, so I laid down, and crawled along until there was an opening through the trees and bushes. From that angle only the doe's head was open, a shot I don't like to take due to the small target area. And she was far, but not moving. At 10 power, the crosshairs were steady, centered on her head. I remembered Helmut's "go for it" from the night before, and squeezed. The deer disappeared during recoil. "What did you do? Shoot it in the head?" was Helmut's response to the gunfire. I admitted, and he added: "Sure looks like it, she's down and kicking"! Well, I felt pretty good about that 125 step shot, and my brother was happy about that "kitchen" hit, with no meat ruined.

Anyway, the morning was young, and we moved to a different area. Helmut posted me in a wooded section, along a narrow logging road, then "drove" deer from the edge of the lot. It didn't take 5 minutes, and deer came by. One stopped only 35 yards out. It was her last mistake as the ‘06 spoke one more time.

This all sounds easy, and compared to Arizona conditions it kind of is. But even in the old country, it is hunting rather than shooting. That proved itself on Sunday morning. I missed not one, but two more does, clean. Each time we carefully checked in their tracks, and found nothing indicating a hit. Then made another control shot on target, and yes, the gun shot still 'close enough'.

I found out another thing that Sunday morning. Even though my attire consisted of longjohns, woolen socks that reached over my knees, pants, T-shirt, shirt, sweat shirt, insulated vest and parka, rubber boots, insulated hat and gloves, mother nature got me anyway. I caught a solid cold. Looks like the Arizona heat had leached too much antifreeze out of my blood. I left for Arizona on Monday morning, with my nose running, and my mind wondering on when business might sent me again across that big pond.

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