View Full Version : The Wild Hunt in Pennsylvania

Thursday, August 28th, 2008, 03:35 PM
I found this today perusing for stuff about the PA German folklore. It's a Pennsylvania German story about the Wild Hunt in Pennsylvania. The original story is in PA Deitsch, I'm not responsible for the translation nor have I the original book. The book is Mit Pennsylvaanisch-Deitch darich's Yaahr (http://www.masthof.com/bookstore/bookstore_viewbook.php?id=2104) narrated by John Brendel and tr. by Bil Linzie

The Eternal Hunter

Now on Sunday I set myself down in the front room of my house and looked out and saw that was wonderfully windy and rainy and just awful weather. And that brought to mind something which happened about 1923, I should say, -- right there in cocoa Valley. But it was on a Saturday night. And, I am pretty sure that most if not all of you people have heard about the story of the Eternal Hunter.

Well I can tell you this -- I have heard the Eternal Hunter. Anyhow something, that my dad and my uncle, Sammy Booker, always said -- that it may have been the Eternal Hunter. Never before in my life have I had such an experience and never thereafter. Now I need to tell you a little bit about the period

When I was just a young whippersnapper, I and my dad had often gone to my uncle's, Sammy Booker's, to set traps. We always set high as many as five or six dozen traps -- for skunks, raccoons, mink, and muskrat. And we had, as the English would say -- a 'trap line' at that time, all the way from the Reinhold's side westward over the Buck's Mountain over to textures and Mountain and all the way down into Cocalico Valley, we could say, all the way to where Ben Bennett had lived.

We always stayed overnight at Ben Bennett's. Now when I say 'overnight' -- that was only maybe two or three hours that we were actually at Ben Bennett's because we always started out in the evening to set traps. So, I should say, that it took us six or seven hours to get just a little bit north of Reinhold's, through the Yew Bog and up on Buck's Mountain. From Buck's Mountain over to Dexter's Mountain and then back to Ben Bennett's. My uncle, Sammy Booker, had one of those little 'miners lanterns' that burned 'Carbide pellets.' And that made a most beautiful important little light. And, of course, we were able to see so to set traps. Now back then we were still able to set the traps for muskrats on the banks of the creek because there were, of course, there were no game laws as have come about since then.

And, on this particular night, it was about the middle of January -- when, should we say, Midwinter-Sleep starts. It was a windy, rainy, horrid night, we could say. We had set all of our traps. And, as I said, Uncle Sammy Booker was also with us. We had come all the way through to Ben Bennett's just about 11 o'clock at night, maybe a little after. And, of course, the first thing that Ben always did was to go out on the porch and fetch a pitcher of cider. I, of course, was limited as to how much cider I was allowed to drink. But my dad and Sammy had already tossed back maybe two tumblers each from the pitcher. And we shot the bull with old Ben.

And then we started heading back to pick up the traps on our way home. That means, of course, that we would get home at around five or six o'clock in the morning. We used to do that all week long throughout the winter. We actually did pretty well with the business of setting traps out.

For good or for bad, on that particular night we left Ben Bennett's. As it always goes, we were talking about this and that. It didn't help any that Uncle Sam and Booker said "This is the type of night that years ago spooks would always come out onto the earth. That's what the old-timers always said." And this, well . . . of course, I did not like that he brought this up. Because we were out in the wilderness, on the way back in. And, one could say, it was not a pleasant ambience on the way [home]; all was quiet.

And then, when we had arrived in Buck's Mountain, I heard something pretty far off over the land as if hounds were out on the hunt. And this sound, of course, seemed to come closer and closer. And, it really seemed as if that thing would come straight onto us. This thing was coming, of course, from the north heading south. And when it had come a little bit closer, my Uncle Sammy Booker said to my dad -- "Tyson," he said, "do you what I hear?" "Yeah," said my dad, "I do." "Do you," he said, "have any idea what that is?" My dad said -- "yeah," he said, "I have a pretty good idea of what it is."

"Yeah, well," my uncle said, "we would do well to tell Johnny (the author) about it." He said to: "Now listen up! You've probably never heard about this in your life. Now you don't need to have any fear. But it is the Eternal Hunter, so now," said he, "you can tell you children and your children's children and all you're descendents about what you heard." Then he said: "this is now the fourth time that I've heard him."

And then it came closer. And the fear, as I said, I can't explain it to you exactly. I don't believe that I had ever been so scared before or after that and just how I shuddered as I did on that night. It went straight over us. And that is the way, as I said, that it was.

It seemed that it was almost as if it were a giant flock of birds that had flown over us. It also seemed that we could hear the wings stirring up the air as it does when a flock of birds goes over a person. The funny part about it was that as it passed by and afterwards, whatever it was that went over us, that it chilled us like when a troop of hounds are out hunting. But even after that, one could hear a man hollering out to the hounds. Like as if he were hollering: "Hu-ap, hu-ap, hu-ap, hu-ap!"

Now what it was, I still do not know to this day. I only know that I had heard it. I will not say that it was something, perhaps, nonhuman. I don't know that (or for). The only thing that I can say for sure is that I heard it.

I have talked with people who are older than I, and asked if they had heard something similar. Old Daddy Loos, who was a neighbor to us, belonged to the Dunker Church (a Mennonite offshoot). And I don't know if I heard the same thing as Daddy Loos often lied about one thing or another, but he said: "yeah," he said, that he had also heard it. He didn't believe in anything supernatural. But, he said that he had to admit that he heard it and that Sonny Riehm said that's what it was (the Eternal Hunter).

Hen Foltz often came to visit us and told a lot of ghost-stories; had said that he had seen the Eternal Hunter about three or four times. It was always at the time when the Winter-sleep came through when the ice breaks and made winter or about in the middle of January.

As I say, what it was I do not know. I only know that is what I heard and that other people had said that it was probably the Eternal Hunter. Now it seems as if it is something that just cannot happen in our time. I have often listen to for him (the Eternal Hunter) or try to figure it out in my mind what it could've been. And, as I said, the single thing that comes to mind is that it was, perhaps, a flock of wild geese who had gotten lost and had flown from the north to the south. Or maybe some other kind of bird. But, as I said, I will never forget the fear that I had. And I was scared -- there's no two ways about it. Even when my Daddy and Uncle Sam he Booker way have great trust in, especially when they were standing right next to me as they were. I took my Daddy's hand. And I can tell you this -- that I was scared even though I was holding my Daddy's hand; he even shook a little bit. As I said, think what you want about this -- what it was I do not know. But, as said, I heard it.