Wild Huntsman Legends

translated by
D. L. Ashliman
© 1999.


  1. Wod, the Wild Huntsman (Carl and Theodor Colshorn).

  2. The Wild Huntsman and the Mine-Monk (August Ey).

  3. The Night Huntsman at the Udarser Mill (A. Haas).

  4. The Wild Huntsman on Buller Mountain (J. D. H. Temme and W. A. J. Tettau).

Return to D. L. Ashliman's index of folklore and mythology electronic texts.

Wod, the Wild Huntsman

Carl and Theodor Colshorn

The dogs of the air often bark on a dark night on the heath, in the woods, or at a crossroads. Country dwellers know their leader Wod and pity the traveler who has not yet reached home, for Wod is often malicious, seldom kind. The rough huntsman spares only those who remain in the middle of the path. Therefore he often calls out to travelers, "In the middle of the path!"

One night a drunk peasant was returning home from town. His path led him through the woods. There he heard the wild hunt with the huntsman shouting at his noisy dogs high in the air.

A voice called out, "In the middle of the path! In the middle of the path!" But the peasant paid no attention to it.

Suddenly a tall man on a white horse bolted from the clouds and approached him. "How strong are you?" he said. "Let's have a contest. Here is a chain. Take hold of it. Who can pull the hardest?"

Undaunted, the peasant took hold of the heavy chain, and the huntsman remounted. Meanwhile the peasant wrapped his end of the chain around a nearby oak tree, and the huntsman pulled in vain.

"You wrapped your end around the oak tree," said Wod, dismounting.

"No," responded the peasant, quickly undoing the chain. "See, here it is in my hands."

"I'll have you in the clouds!" cried the huntsman and remounted. The peasant quickly wrapped the chain around the oak tree once again, and once again Wod pulled in vain. Up above the dogs barked, the wagons rolled, and the horses neighed. The oak tree creaked at its roots and seemed to twist itself sideways. The peasant was terrified, but the oak tree stood.

"You have pulled well!" said the huntsman. "Many men have become mine. You are the first who has withstood me. I will reward you."

The hunt proceeded noisily, "Halloo! Halloo!" The peasant crept along his way. Then suddenly, from unseen heights, a groaning stag fell before him. Wod appeared and jumped from his white horse. He hurriedly cut up the game.

"The blood is yours," he said to the peasant, "and a hind quarter as well."

"My lord," said the peasant, "your servant has neither a bucket nor a pot."

"Pull off your boot!" cried Wod.

He did it.

"Now take the blood and the meat to your wife and child."

At first his fear lightened the burden, but gradually it became heavier and heavier until he was barely able to carry it. With a crooked back and dripping with sweat he finally reached his hut, and behold, his boot was filled with gold, and the hind quarter was a leather bag filled with silver coins.

The Wild Huntsman and the Mine-Monk

August Ey

Many stories are told about the road between Clausthal and Goslar, including the following one. Many years ago, when the roads around here were very poor, a woman went to Goslar every week to bring back earthenware to sell. She left here early in the morning, often not returning until after nightfall.

One time she stayed in Goslar longer than usual, not leaving until it was already half dark. But she knew every step of the way, so she lifted her pack basket filled with earthenware to her back, and proceeded merrily on her way toward Clausthal. It was slow work going uphill, but at last she reached the summit where the Zipollen field is.

Tired from her heavy load and the long uphill climb, she decided to sit down and take a decent rest. Suddenly she saw a large fire and noticed some people. Thinking they must be charcoal burners or woodcutters, and being very thirsty, she approached them to ask for some water to drink. But as she came closer, she saw to her great fear that it was a giant huntsman and his companions seated around the fire--a terrifying sight.

They were roasting a huge stag on a spit above the fire. But worst of all, some horribly large dogs were running about, and they suddenly chased up to her, jumping at her until she could feel their hot breath, and snapping at her coat as though they wanted to tear her apart. The men just sat there, paying no heed to the terrified woman. Everything was so uncanny, so quiet.

She ran as fast as she could to escape from the beasts' claws. She ran, driven by terror, until she at last collapsed and lay there unconscious beneath her pack basket.

When she finally awoke she saw a man standing over her. He was wearing a green miner's hat and a black jacket, and was carrying a large torch in his hand. He helped her up and asked her what she needed. She tearfully told him what had happened and that because of her running and her fall her earthenware had probably broken to pieces. She was very poor, and all that she owned was invested in this trade, and today in particular, it was all in this pack basket. Now everything was in pieces, and she did not know what she would do.

The juryman, for this is who the woman thought was standing before her, felt sorry for her. He pulled her coat away from her pack basket and looked inside with his torch. He told her that everything was in order. Then wishing her good luck [He uses the expression "Glückauf," a traditional miner's greeting.], he set off in the direction of Goslar.

The woman, filled with sorrow and feeling like she had been beaten, continued on her way to Clausthal. It was after daybreak when she arrived home. She went into her little kitchen, set her pack basket on the table, and fell exhausted onto the bench. But she could not resist looking into the pack basket to see what had happened to her earthenware, to see if anything could be salvaged.

Looking inside, she was startled to see, instead of broken pieces, or pots and jars, nothing but shiny coins. She immediately ran to her landlady, a clever old woman. After hearing the story, she said, "Those beings by the fire were the wild huntsman with his followers and his dogs. The juryman, however, was the Mine-Monk. Consider yourself lucky that you escaped alive."

The woman used the money to buy a small house and a few cows. And from that time forth she never again brought earthenware from Goslar.

The Night Huntsman at the Udarser Mill

A. Haas

It is said that the Night Huntsman haunts the vicinity of the Udarser Mill. Once a mill worker who had spent the night at the mill heard the Night Huntsman passing by with great commotion, shouting "Halloo!" The worker had heard a lot about the Night Huntsman's sinister deeds, and he wanted to know more about him, so he went out onto the mill platform and heartily added his voice to the wild noise. Suddenly he heard a voice calling out:

If you want to hunt,
You can join the ride!

At the same time someone threw a woman's leg at the worker, a woman's leg wearing a red shoe. The worker quickly retreated into the mill. It is said that the next morning he buried the leg beneath the mill platform.

The Wild Huntsman on Buller Mountain

W. A. J. von Tettau and J. D. H. Temme

In the Skrzynka Woods, which are part of Wyrth Forest in the Stargardt region, there is a high mountain named Buller Mountain. The Wild Huntsman frequents this mountain on St. Bartholomew's Night [August 24]. Many people have experienced how he rides through the woods with a frightful clamor.

One time the head forester of the district was passing through these woods on this night, and he heard the noise. In the belief that he was pursuing some poachers, he followed the sound. Although he exerted himself to the utmost, he was unable to overtake the huntsmen, and he uttered a blasphemous curse. Suddenly there was a frightful commotion above his head. He heard the words "Here is something for you from our hunt!" and a human leg was thrown into his carriage.

Return to:

Revised May 11, 1999.