Photo: Christian Wilhelm Allers: "Das deutsche Jägerbuch", CC0, Wikimedia Commons
When Leo Dorn from Oberstdorf shot down his fiftieth eagle on November 10, 1890, Prince Regent Luitpold appointed him “Eagle King” and even handed him a certificate.
Hunters of the 19th century regarded the golden eagle as a dangerous enemy, whereas it is highly protected today and considered to be a symbol of the Alps. Young lambs and fawns are a favorite on the “king of the skies” menu. In 1886, an eagle is said to have attacked and carried away a two-year-old girl when her parents were preoccupied with picking up berries on an alpine pasture at Hoher Ifen. Leo Dorn made the extermination of the raptor his life’s work: As the Prince Regent’s main hunter, he is said to have killed a total of 76 golden eagles in Hindelang.
In order to get to the hidden and difficult to reach eagle nests on the steep cliffs of the Allgaeu Alps, the hunter had to be a courageous mountaineer. Leo Dorn and his friend Thaddäus Blattner climbed the western summit of the Höfats in the middle of the 19th century – several decades before tourists dared to the climb the difficult Grasberg.
Due to these wild ascents at the Höfats, Leo Dorn made a name for himself and even got the attention of the Bavarian Prince Regent Luitpold, who eventually appointed him chief hunter of the Hindelang hunting grounds. He was responsible for taking care of the red deer population and pursuing not only golden eagles but also poachers. Moreover, he accompanied the Prince Regent on his hunting trips.
Hunting party at Schrattenberg at Hintersteiner Tal with Prince Regent Luitpold (center) and Leo Dorn (right)
Photo: Postkarte von Hof-Fotografen Heimhuber, Archiv: Heimatmuseum Oberstdorf
Today, the former royal hunting lodges at Schrattenberg, which are located on a rock in the Hintersteiner Tal, are privately owned. An unmarked riding path leads from the lodges up to the mountain saddle (with alpine pasture). It was created as a pleasant ascent particularly for the royal hunting party.
Leo Dorn – Eagle King
Rifle Stiegele Martini "Leo Dorn"
The charismatic Leo Dorn became a small sensation due to his spectacular hunts – he even carried lamb carcasses through deep snow to attract eagles. In Oberstdorf and Hindelang they sold postcards with his portrait and Carl Stiegele Jr. from Munich even named a rifle after the Eagle King.
There is a life-sized statue of Leo Dorn at the Museum of Local History in Oberstdorf. It also provides visitors with detailed information about historic hunting in around Oberstdorf and displays historic hunting items.