By Scott Anderson
On January 20, 2012, my journey began. I was in a foreign land where there are many different cultures. I was doing some soul searching and looking for a way to feel more at home. My greatest passions are hunting and being outdoors. I browsed the internet prior to coming over the ocean. I found several places that I could get back to my passion for the outdoors; many of these were rather expensive. Again, I looked on google, browsed Facebook and glanced at some other avenues. Then, I came upon the company named WILD Jaeger, LLC. I had many questions about going hunting and other outdoor adventures. I got into contact with the Owner and CEO of the company Ricky Mills. This gentleman is a man of my own heart. Ricky was a Special Forces Green Beret in the United States Army. He shared his story with me about why he was no longer in the military and it captured me.
I talked to Ricky about the possibility of going hunting. After several phone calls, emails and Facebook conversations, I decided to visit Ricky to discuss this adventure. He told me that in order to be able to go bow hunting anywhere in the world I needed to take the (IBEP) course or International Bow hunters Education Program. This is one of my passions. For about 10 years now, I have been shooting archery and was stoked that there were such opportunities out there. From where I live, Ricky’s store is in Vilseck, Germany is about 3.5 hours and about 288 miles away.
In March 2013, I told my wife that I wanted to go meet Ricky in Vilseck to discuss everything. My wife agreed, saying have a good time. I got on the autobahn and started my trip loving the wonderful views on each side of me. I hated Germany in the worst way, but there is just something about being in nature that makes me forget all about that. I finally arrived at my destination, after some wrong turns, trying to go my own way.
I pulled into a gravel parking lot and turned to see this enormous logo on the wall of the building. I had found the right place! No sooner had I step out of my vehicle, when a blue Mercedes station wagon pulled into the parking lot with a WILD Jaeger sticker on it. Not knowing at the time that it was Ricky, I started walking towards the building. That is when I heard this scraggly voice, “Hello there, can I help you with something?” Sure I’m looking for Ricky Mills. Well that’s me, nice to meet you, you must be Scott. After our introductions, we headed into what I like to call an American hunters paradise, The WILD Jaeger Hunting and Fishing Center. We talked about the store and he gave me a tour. I was very impressed and liked what I saw.
The WILD Jaeger Hunting and Fishing store is about 800 square meters. There is nothing but hunting and fishing gear galore, Ricky’s office and a storage area with a 10 meter archery range or what they call in Germany, a Bogenschießen. After the tour, we sat down in his office and talked about possibly going on a trip to Aland, Finland, the military, and business in general. I made a down payment for the International Bow hunter Education Program or IBEP course. I hung out for a while, said my goodbyes and started the drive home.
It was almost April and I started getting more excited about the class with each day. I started studying, and going through materials way before this. On April 5 I got into my car and made the drive to Vilseck for the IBEP course. When I got there, I shot my bow at the range and hung out with Ricky. Everyone else showed up that evening to make their payments.
On the morning of April 6 it was show time! We met our instructor Alois Hofherr and introduced ourselves to the class. The first day of class was on theory and we were given study materials. On April 7 day 2 of the course, was the big test. After completing the test, a short lunch break and going over the test; it was time to head outside to complete the shooting portion which was needed to be able to hunt. I shot 6 out of 6 in the European shooting test. After completing the shooting portion, we practiced tracking. Then we all headed back to the store and received our certificates.
Figure 1″ Photo” Our 2014 IBEP class photo, all great shooters!
In May 2013, I called Ricky to make the down payment and confirm my status for the trip to Aland, Finland. Now came the tough part, waiting to hear back with more details. June rolled around and I found out Ricky, (his son) Lucas and Richard Lampley would be going on the trip with me. Also in June 2013, my wife was admitted to the hospital, for the 3rd time that year. Things were just not going our way, but my wonderful wife told me, “We already put the down payment on that trip so you’re going.” Two months flew by and it was August.
On August 11, 2013, I had my bags packed, bow waxed and car fueled up. I took my son to the sitter, and got ready to head to Vilseck. August 12 at 0500 I woke up and double checked that I was not missing any gear. I locked the house and off I went. I stopped in Mannheim to see my wife at the hospital and get some hugs and kisses, before I took off on my journey. I left Mannheim driving towards Vilseck to start the first leg of my journey to Aland. Richard Lampley and I met up with Ricky at the store. We went over our game plan, ate some dinner, loaded up the car and trailer and got some well needed sleep.
Figure 2 “Photo” Here is our group photo before starting our adventure.
August 13. 48 hours before the start of Roe deer season in Aland, we start our grueling and exciting drive. We drove through Germany which was an adventure in itself and thru Denmark which had the longest bridge I had ever been on in my entire life. Then on to Sweden where there were moose everywhere and on to a ferry in Kapellskar, Sweden. We had a 2 hour ferry ride and were making good time. Roger Petterson, our guide and a true sportsman met us as we got off the ferry.
Figure 3 “Photo” Roger Petterson, our guide and great sportsman.
After we met Roger, we drove to his place in Marienhamn, Aland. To hunt in Aland, it is mandatory to take a shooting test. Ricky, Richard and I all shot and scored 100%. After we had completed the shooting test, we did a little grocery shopping and got settled in at camp at the lodge. After we settled in at the lodge, we went out to do some night scouting.
0500 August 15, opening day, I showered using Code Blue Scent Free soap and put on my Scentblocker recon suit. We ate some breakfast and took a short drive to our first hunting area. We all sprayed down with Code Blue spray so we were scent free going into the woods.
The adventure started as everyone picked their spot to hunt. I started my stalking as I walked down the middle of a grass and gravel path hoping not to kick anything up. I made it down a narrow path which led to the edge of an agricultural field. I was slowly taking one step at a time, when I heard a twig break. I thought nothing of it and heard the sound of something scampering away. I set up my hunting stool hung up my bow and it was on!
I set up my camera, pressed the record button and the footage started rolling. I sat for several hours over the corner of the field. The sun came up, shining on the field, making it a clear view to see my target, if there was to be one. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see any deer that morning. I did film a pheasant nesting which was pretty cool. I packed up my camera and my bow and headed back to the car at about noon. I returned that evening to the same spot I stalked in the morning. While I was looking out in the middle of the field I saw one lonely buck. He was sitting so far across the field I had to use my binos to get another look. No deer were within range so I sat back and enjoyed the view hoping one would walk by.
Day 2 began the same as the day before. We drove a shorter distance and I decided I was going to walk in further. I rode with Ricky and Lucas that morning. We parked the car, unloaded our gear and as we were doing this, I caught a glimpse of something in the field. Unfortunately that morning, Ricky had forgotten his arrows at the lodge, so he got back in the car and took off down the street. Just after he left, I glanced out into the wheat field and saw the most amazing site! A 4 point Roe Buck standing and feeding in the field that we couldn’t hunt. Ricky slowly drove back to us. As he got out of the car, he saw the deer take off out across the field and down the road. Ricky and Lucas went to their hunting spot and I walked to mine. I walked down the road at a steady pace and started hearing crunching off to my right. I slowed down looking into a yard. I saw 2 young deer standing in the yard, eating apples. I got a small glimpse of one, as it ran fast and blew my cover. I continued to my hunting area and got up into a ladder stand that Roger had already set up. Again the same routine, setting up my camera and hanging my bow up. Sitting still in the stand, calling with my homemade call and getting no response. The morning and evening hunting ended unsuccessfully.
Day 3 I walked back to the ladder stand and sat for a few hours. Around noon, I got down and went back to the lodge. While at the lodge, Richard and I practiced shooting and then headed back out for our evening hunt. Roger dropped us off at the end of a road. We split off to divide and try to conquer this hunting area. We talked to each other using radios and headsets. Richard spotted some deer in a field, but none were in range to shoot so he continued on. We linked up further down the path where he was watching a buck at about 100 meters. He tried to see if the buck would come in closer. As luck would have it, that deer wasn’t moving to save its life. I ended up about 40 meters behind him and was filming a Reh. A fawn came down a draw and was nosing around. They were not legal to shoot at that time. After they left, we ended up going a little further down the path and ended our evening. As we were walking back down the road to get picked up, a decent sized buck ran across the road with just enough daylight to see it. Richard went in after it, unfortunately there was no shot. He came back out and we continued back to our pick up point where Roger picked us up and took us back to the lodge.
Figure 4 “Photo” A very nice buck, but just out of bow range.
Click this link to view a video of this buck: http://youtu.be/xNZNNopIrgY
On our final day of hunting, we woke up at 0500, got dressed and headed out. I went back to my original hunting spot from the first day. I sat in the stand until about 0900, shut my camera off, then got up and started to glass the area. I was glassing out into the field, when off to my left hand side I saw something moving and heard a twig break. Trying not to share that I was human, I glanced over the top of my binoculars. About 6 feet to the left of me stood a fawn or what I had thought it to be. I didn’t see any antlers, therefore I couldn’t shoot it, but it was the closest encounter I had ever had with a deer. After about 5 mins which seemed like an eternity, the deer finally smelled my scent and took off. I sat back down till about noon. That’s when I decided to pick up my gear and head back to the car.
That evening was uneventful for me as I sat in the same spot again. We closed it down for the night, heading back to the lodge. We ate some dinner and got ready for the drive home. The next morning, we said our goodbyes to Roger. We drove to the ferry, got on the ferry, then back to the main land, making better time on the way back. We got back to the WILD Jaeger store, unpacked the trailer and the car and we all headed our separate ways.
This is my story as well as I can remember it. Thank You to my wife for supporting me. Thanks to Ricky Mills, Richard Lampley, and the whole WILD Jaeger team. What an experience. Great friends, great food, amazing sites and lots of fun