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July is now upon us in Germany, with it comes the “blattzeit,” or the roe deer rut season. This is truly the best time to harvest a roebuck with its antlers at their finest. Even though you can hunt roe bucks from May through January, where I live in Southern Germany, it is generally frowned upon to harvest one after they have cast their antlers. Because of these and other factors, the blattzeit is one of the most treasured hunting periods of the year in Germany and throughout Europe.
The roe deer mating season generally lasts about a month, arrives in July, and ends in August. Depending on the amount of climate heat leading up to July will dictate how soon the blattzeit will begin. At lower altitudes, it can start in late June, whereas near the Alps, it can begin in late August. You can tell the blattzeit has started by watching the behavior of “geiss” (doe in German). Roe deer do not range very far and generally do not herd. The males are somewhat solitary, and a geiss will remain most of the year by herself with her “kitz” (fawns), and this is especially true in Spring and Summer. Once the blattzeit comes around, you will find a buck suddenly hanging out in the general area of the geiss.
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Roe bucks come in various sizes, and obviously, so do their antlers. The most sought-after trophy is a “sechser” or six-point buck. Under that, you will find a four-point buck called a “gabler” or fork. And under the gabler, you will find a “spiesser” or spike, which is just as the name implies, a pair of spikes. Male fawns will grow what is referred to as “knöpfen” or buttons. Like in the U.S. there is a trophy scoring system, and this is done through The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (or “CIC”). Trophies are graded according to size, symmetry, and volume. You can find an explanation of the trophy grading system at the bottom of the article. In many (if not most) hunting areas of Germany, there is also a trophy fee associated with harvesting a buck. The trophy fee is typically calculated by the weight of the skull (minus the jaw bone) with the antlers. For example, one of the reviers (hunting areas) I used to hunt in had a starting price of 50 euros for a buck with a trophy from 0 to 150 grams and went up to 400 euros for anything over 500 grams. I have seen prices over 1k euros for trophies over 500 grams. In the late fall, roe bucks will cast their antlers and become much harder to distinguish between males and females. This casting also happens to coincide with drive hunt season in Germany. Drive hunts in October and November are an excellent opportunity to harvest a buck with a trophy, but this can also involve a cruel twist of fate. Often during drive hunts, the trophy fees on roebuck will be waived, and I have shot two bucks on two separate driven hunts only for them to cast theirs after being shot. I was overfilled with joy on both opportunities, only to find a buck with two bloody stumps on its head.
During the blattzeit, hunts are conducted from “kanzels” (tall deer blinds) and “hochsitz” (usually a ladder seat). These seats are strategically placed in forest areas with meadows and farm fields throughout Germany. Typically, the more populated the area you are in, the higher the seat so as to ensure your bullet will not travel far from your shot placement. The blattzeit provides a unique opportunity to call roebuck. Geiss and Kitz will often make a high-pitched “pheep” sound when calling out to each other, and the bucks are quite sensitive to this during the heat of the rut. Because Bucks are listening for this pheep sound, you can call out to them, mimicking the sound using a buttolo. Peter Jones from County Deer Stalking in the U.K. has an excellent video on the various calls used to try and pull in a roebuck that I have included at the bottom of the article. I use a two-call system where I use the buttolo to call out to roe bucks and then a smaller call that I can keep between my teeth and blow into as the buck gets nearer.
I hope you enjoyed this article on roe deer hunting in Germany during the rut. Please feel free to contact me on Instagram @huntingmuscle with any questions about hunting in Germany or the species we hunt. As well, if you harvest anything any game and would like a traditional German hunter’s salute, tag me for a “Waidamannsheil!”
County Deer Stalking’s “How to call a Roe Buck” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A14D-Kk-dUM&ab_channel=CountyDeerStalking
Trophy grading https://basc.org.uk/deer-management/head-measuring/