Markus Sämmer: We don’t need much to be happy

#EthicalHunting #Forward F455S #TheGreatOutdoors
Markus Sämmer
Written by:

Algė Ramanauskienė

Photography:

www.studio-steve.de

Chef, author, hunter, hiker, mountain biker, alpinist, surfer… The list is long but wouldn’t be complete without the one description that connects all this – nature lover. German outdoorsman Markus Sämmer could share his fascinating stories for hours. From the world of Michelin-rated gastronomy to the experience of a private chef on a yacht in the Mediterranean, from sleeping under Australia’s starry sky in his little van to climbing the heights of the Andean mountains in Peru. Today, Markus is happy living a quiet and settled life writing recipe books filled not only with delicious meal ideas but with personal stories of his own and other outdoors enthusiasts.

Interview

- You seem to have this beautiful connection to nature and the privilege of living close to wildlife. And yet, your life used to be quite different.

I grew up in the countryside. Our home was surrounded with forest. When I was three my grandfather used to take me foraging for mushrooms. And I started fishing as a little boy. The memory of catching trout with my bare hands in spring waters still pops into my mind when I look back. I always had this strong connection to nature.

 

I love the idea of producing as much as possible on my own. I keep bees, I have my own chickens and I grow fruit and vegetables in my garden. I’m not a farmer but I always wanted to have sustainable meat on my table. That is how I started hunting.

 

And yes, you’re right, today, my life is quite different from what it used to be in my twenties. At that time, I was working hard in the top gastronomic world of Munich’s Michelin-rated restaurants. I was a private chef on a yacht in the Mediterranean, then decided to start my own catering business. My team grew until we reached the point of catering events for 600 people and more. Then one day I realized it’s the same stress I was suffering from while working in the restaurants! So, I shrunk the business down and started focusing on a new project – recipe books. I had carried this dream with me ever since my one-year adventure in Australia back in 2000 where I travelled in my van, surfing, and living the easy life.

 

At that time, I felt an extremely deep connection with nature. I was literally sleeping under the stars in my little van, cooking simple meals and enjoying the freedom I had. It was the best life lesson as well, it helped me realize what’s important and what’s not. I found out I don’t really need much in order to be happy. Spending time outdoors, in the wilderness, feeling the connection is pretty much all I need.

I love the idea of producing as much as possible on my own. I keep bees, I have my own chickens, I grow fruit and vegetables in my garden. I’m not a farmer but I always wanted to have sustainable meat on my table. That is how I started hunting.
Markus Sämmer

Life is about the little things, isn’t it?

Absolutely! I try to get inspired by nature every day. I seek new ideas for my recipes in nature as well. I enjoy picking mushrooms, wild berries and herbs in the wild.

 

Who introduced you to hunting? 

There were no hunters in my family. But there was a neighbour and friend living nearby who was constantly asking me why I don’t hunt. I honestly thought it wasn’t my thing. Then some seven years ago he invited me to join him on a hunt, and somehow it made me curious. I finally realized that hunting is not only about shooting; it’s much more about being in nature, taking care of the animals and their habitat, protecting the wildlife. That’s what really got me hooked, not to mention the discovery of the great taste of venison.

 

What’s your favourite game?

It’s what I have on my doorstep. I live in Southern Bavaria, a small village located on a lake called Ammersee. I don’t like hunting in government-owned forests because they don’t seem to me to be practicing fair and sustainable hunting. I’m an advocate of ethical, healthy and sustainable hunting. So, I prefer private areas that are ten minutes away from my home.

I mostly hunt for roe deer, wild boar, few rabbits, geese, and ducks. In wintertime, when you can harvest the fur, we also shoot foxes which are the predators of special bird species that live in natural reserves. As well as wild boar whose population is growing very fast and is quick to spread viruses like the African swine flu. That’s where the role of a hunter becomes essential.

 

What do you prefer – solo hunting or being out there in the forest with your companions? 

Most of all, I like hunting with my dog, but I also enjoy the company of friends when we go hunting for ducks or geese. Sometimes I’m invited to driven hunts, but I must admit I’m not the biggest fan of it. I prefer a quieter and more relaxed hunt.

 

When hunting alone, do you wait for the animals in a tower?

If I go by myself, I either climb on a tower or sneak through the forest. If I’m hunting for birds, I make a blind, cover myself in camouflage, put fake plastic crows around me and then start making funny sounds – bird calls. Crow is not my favourite meat, but it’s important to control their population as crows are predator birds, they destroy other birds’ nests, damage their eggs and even hunt down little rabbits.

The deeper you look, the more you understand how big the imbalance is that humans have created in nature. Especially in such densely populated countries as Germany. With the Coronavirus spread, people started moving from cities to the countryside thus pushing the wildlife away. Some weeks ago, I spotted naked walkers in the forest on my camera… It seems, people are going crazy. The animals are disturbed by such newcomers, they are forced to hide deep in the forest and don’t come out to feed during the daytime anymore, which makes it much harder to hunt.

Markus Sämmer:

I finally realized that hunting is not only about shooting; it’s much more about being in nature, taking care of the animals and their habitat, protecting the wildlife. That’s what really got me hooked, not to mention the discovery of the great taste of venison.
Interview

- For you personally, hunting is first of all about the balance in nature, isn’t it?

It is mostly about caring for nature. I own a piece of forest, so I know how it is all connected in nature. I just love being out there and helping to keep it balanced. I’m also enormously thankful to nature for being allowed to bring the best there is – wild meat – home. For me it has never been something I take for granted, it’s rather a special moment when you take down a roe deer, bring it home, take care of the meat, and then finally prepare a meal and eat it. It is just the way it should be – we should all either become vegetarians or be able to enjoy the most natural meat there is.

 

Some go hunting purely for meat, others – to clear their head or even come up with new ideas. How about you? Do you have new recipe ideas spinning in your head while strolling through the woods? 

Both! Sometimes I have new ideas popping up in my head while I’m sitting there waiting. But sometimes it’s about completely emptying the head of stress by just doing nothing, sitting there, listening to the sounds of nature, the bird song. It’s so different to our high-paced life with mobile beeps and Instagram scrolls… I’m happy if there is no network in the forest even is security-wise it’s not that safe. Otherwise, I would just switch my phone off.

 

What’s your favourite time to hunt?

I like to be in the forest in the evening when it’s getting dark. I also love summer mornings, even if it’s quite terrible to wake up at 4 am… But once you’re out there, it’s pretty magical. For certain animal species, like wild boar, you must hunt at night. That’s where the Pulsar night vision devices help. I have a Forward F455S digital night vision front attachment and I really like it. Without it, I simply wouldn’t be able to spot and hunt wild boars on a moonless night.

 

Your hunting adventures will soon end up in a new book, dedicated to game meat. What is the process of writing a book like?

It is very complex and takes a long time. All my books are in a way my private biographies. The first one “The Great Outdoors” was centred on camping recipes with a lot of sports stories such as climbing, bouldering, mountain hiking and biking. I wanted to introduce the protagonists of the sports scene, like former ice climbing world champion Markus Bendler, whose story was in the book as well. I try to surround the recipes with stories to create a different food book experience.

The second book “The Great Outdoors: Winter Cooking” was dedicated to wintry meals. It is illustrated with pictures from a skiing tour in Georgia and Norway I took part in. I remember the Caucasus mountains covered in 3.5 meters of snow – a perfect winter feeling!

I’m doing the same with the upcoming hunting book – trying to create a feeling of what it’s like to hunt. There will be professional hunter interviews to portray the uniqueness of this complex and crazy job. There will also be a story of a friend of mine, a hunter who makes highly functional leather clothing for hunters and lovers of the outdoors. So, it will be far more than a usual recipe book, just like the rest of my books.

I have a Forward F455S digital night vision front attachment and I really like it. Without it, I simply wouldn’t be able to spot and hunt wild boars on a moonless night.

– Markus Sämmer
Night Vision Front Attachment

Forward F455S

Interview

- Have you discovered the secret of a bestseller so far?

I think it happens by coincidence. Or by having a great plan, foreseeing the trends. My first book was carefully planned but it also came out at the perfect time, before Coronavirus hit. It sold fast because people all around the world were looking for getaway ideas, turning back towards nature. I always create a video trailer for my books – it gives you a feeling of being part of the scene. But also, the product itself must be unique and eye-catching. The recipes I share, are mostly sustainable, organic and quite easy to prepare. It’s very different from a restaurant kitchen. My last book “The Great Outdoors: Hello Nature” was awarded a silver medal at the Frankfurt book fair together with the latest books from big authors like Jamie Oliver and Ottolenghi and received a lot of media coverage.

 

Do you miss that feeling of freedom you had while traveling around Australia or spending time on a boat in the Mediterranean? 

I really miss traveling, spending more time in a new country, discovering things, and not always living a comfortable life. My last big trip was in 2011. I went to Peru and climbed six mountains higher than 6000 meters. I trained for this trip for more than one year planning the route and the whole food chain and my business knowledge helped me a lot. I have to say, I really miss those times and such getaways. I think Alaska or maybe Namibia would be great for the next adventure…

 

 

Do you have a story to share? Drop us a message: journal@pulsar-vision.com.

Markus Sämmer:

My last book “The Great Outdoors: Hello Nature” was awarded a silver medal at the Frankfurt Book Fair together with the latest books by big authors like Jamie Oliver and Ottolenghi.

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