Back Country Rituals: Letzter Bissen (“Last Bite")

By: Josh Shaffer

Years ago I read a thought provoking piece in a magazine (I believe it was Field and Stream) that talked about a German hunting tradition known as Letzter Bissen. Translated to our native tongue it means "last bite." The process is symbolic for a sort of back country spiritual connection with the hunters quarry.

The simple ritual of a "last bite" is when the successful hunter inserts a pine branch (or other native browse) into the mouth and has a moment of silence with his/her harvested animal. It is said that the branch is then to be inserted in the left side of the hunters hat to be worn for the rest of the day to show respect for the animal and to show thanks for a bountiful harvest.

This ritual struck a cord with my hunting spirit since first reading about this European ritual and I've incorporated a modified versioninto my own after harvest field processing.  I think its a good way of showing gratitude towards the Lord and Mother Nature during a successful Harvest.  

The reading that I've done about this ritual point out that it's German origins still permeate throughout the European hunting culture to this day. I find great comfort in knowing there are sportsman out there that still have some old fashion roots and ideals in this high-tech world we live in nowadays.

 An example of Letzter Bissen - Image Credit:

An example of Letzter Bissen - Image Credit:

Have you ever heard of this ritual? What ways do you show respect for the game you love to chase?  I’d like to hear your thoughts and stories.  Feel free to leave a comment on this post.  
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