© Pyhrn-Priel poaching trail | Photo: TVB Pyhrn-Priel / D. Pernkopf
© Pyhrn-Priel poaching trail | Photo: TVB Pyhrn-Priel / D. Pernkopf
View of a wall with landscape in Pyhrn-Priel.

Poacher story & myth

Poaching today? Simple theft. Poaching back then? Rebelling against the ruling order. Or saving yourself from starvation.

The densely wooded mountains of the Pyhrn-Priel region, especially the Sengsengebirge, always housed all kinds of game. This attracted both hunters and poachers.

Hunting as a noble privilege

Hunting used to be a privilege that was only granted to the nobility - a law that the subjects perceived as unjust. In addition, there was increased damage from game, which threatened the livelihood of the farmers. All those who lived in poverty and had to suffer from the damage caused by game saw it as their right to shoot the stag, deer or chamois from the noble hunter.

Post-war poachers

Especially after the world wars, many war veterans took their weapons home with them, went hungry with it into the forest and provided themselves and their families with meat. A series of serious clashes between poachers and hunters ensued.

Poacher as an honorary title

Based on this archetypal poacher who had to support himself and his family, a “culture of the poachers” soon developed. Poaching was seen as evidence of courage and a love of adventure. Young boys wanted to demonstrate fearlessness, audacity, strength and courage to rebel against the authorities. In addition to the poverty of the mountain farmers at the time, the so-called “passion” for hunting and the anger at the rulers, there was also the joy of Gamsbart and lederhosen, which symbolically made someone a poacher.

"The poacher had previously enjoyed a high reputation because he was an adventurer who" dared something "',

such a hunter to the sociologist Roland Girtler. There was sympathy for the poachers, especially in the mountain villages. They enjoyed the fame of an adventurous, courageous lawbreaker and were considered "heroes of the common people". They were celebrated as social rebels; as heroes in the manner of Robin Hood, who took the rights that the "noble gentlemen" had taken from the "little man".

Stories and songs

The dairy women also liked the poachers. They offered them a change and passed the time on quiet evenings. In return, the dairies made it possible for the poachers to find safe accommodation. Their alpine huts offered a kind of base camp for their expeditions into the cirques and forests.

The poachers from then until now are glorified in songs and stories. Their stories are told again and again and their hunting successes are celebrated like victories.

Laws and Penalties

As praising the stories, as severe the punishments that caught poachers had to reckon with. Corresponding fines and imprisonment were the order of the day. Instruments of torture were also often used. The wooden donkey was particularly common. This publicly exhibited, the poacher became a common mockery.

In the course of time, many decrees and laws come to counteract poaching. New hunting regulations will also be established. This is the way to tackle the root causes of poaching.

Pleasure in killing

The mere pleasure in killing wild animals as it occurs today contradicts the sense of honor of the earlier poachers. Modern poachers who blind the game with their car headlights so that they can easily shoot it or who ruthlessly hunt down lynx in the national park are often only concerned with the trophy. They cannot be compared with the classic poachers from back then. The “classic” poacher is always a hunter in his relationship with game and thus stands out from robbery, snare-laying and car poachers.

© Hunting scene from the Middle Ages | Photo: TVB Pyhrn-Priel / Archive
Hunting scene from the Middle Ages
Hunting scene from the Middle Ages
© Engraving after an original painting by August Diessenbacher | Photo: TVB Pyhrn-Priel / Archive
Engraving based on an original painting by August Diessenbacher.
© Hunting party | Photo: TVB Pyhrn-Priel / Archive
Noble hunting party in Bodinggraben 1907.
Noble hunting party in Bodinggraben 1907
© Hunting party | Photo: TVB Pyhrn-Priel / Archive
Hunting party earlier
Poaching society
© Johann Farnberger Photo: TVB Pyhrn-Priel / Archive
Johann Farnberger's part called "Sperl Hans".

1923 - 2 dead & many questions

In 1923 poachers met a group of hunters and police officers near the Mayralm. The hunter Vinzenz Hobel and the poacher Johann Farnberger died in an exchange of fire.

There is still confusion about the course of events and the perpetrators.

More about the Mayralm shooting

You can hike on historical trails and visit the original sites ...