Still on his 'game': Retiree fueled by passion for hunting

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ciara M. Travis
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: This is part one of a series on volunteers in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

At the age of 8, he began hunting with his granddad, and by 12 years old he was hunting on his own. Sixty years later, retired Senior Master Sgt. Maxie D. Butler continues his hobby as the lead hunting instructor for the German hunting license course at Vogelweh's Rod and Gun club.

Born in Kentucky, Mr. Butler and his family eventually moved to Indiana, where he joined the Indiana Army National Guard. After a year in the ARNG, he sought opportunity to cross into the Air Force.

In 1986, after retiring at Ramstein following 29 years of service the U.S. Air Force, Mr. Butler chose to stay in the KMC.

"I stayed here in Germany because of my wife, who is German, and because I was offered the chance to do what I love -- hunting and fishing," said Mr. Butler. "When I am out there hunting, I get this great feeling of peace."

Mr. Butler, 72, leads the German hunting and fishing class entirely as a volunteer.

Teaching the class takes a lot of time and effort, but to Mr. Butler, it's all worth it.

"Looking back, after 34 years of teaching the course, I wouldn't change a thing," said Mr. Butler, who enjoys hunting wild boar and fox because of their intelligence. "Being involved with the German-American hunting community has been entirely too rewarding to regret a single moment of it."

Mr. Butler is the chief instructor of the hunting course, as well as the acting liaison between American hunters and the German hunting community.

"Max has done such a good job at teaching and demonstrating how the Americans stationed here can fit into the German hunting community and culture," said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Hoeft, U.S. Air Forces in Europe radar system manager. "He is always willing to step up and help wherever is needed."

According to Sergeant Hoeft, Mr. Butler is a lifelong friend and mentor who has exceeded the course goals providing military members with the basic fundamentals of hunting in Germany.

"I really enjoy teaching the hunters course to military members because it gives them the opportunity to practice the tools of the trade that are so important to the military," said Mr. Butler.

But more importantly, taking the course enables members to receive the German hunting license.

Because of the strict German hunting laws, many Americans do not make an effort to become licensed -- however, achieving the German hunting license is very rewarding, Mr. Butler said.

"The German hunting license is one of the world's most respected hunting achievements worldwide," Mr. Butler said. "There is a great sense of satisfaction knowing I've helped another individual take on a hobby I love so much."

Mr. Butler's passion for hunting has made an extreme impact on those who surround him.

"Because of what I've learned from Max, I've given back to the hunting community myself," said Master Sgt. Jon P. Maas, 86th Dental Squadron specialty treatment coordinator. "I have started assisting with teaching some classes and accomplishing range qualifications for the students."

According to Sergeant Maas, Mr. Butler is a living example of what many military retirees convey -- that "service before self" is an imperative characteristic that should be carried throughout life.