Can it be any surprise that a US Supreme Court Justice belonged to a secret society? It probably shouldn’t.

Generally, ranking members of the power elite have had affiliations with bizarre secret societies, but such groups are usually the domain of conspiracy, strange ritual and allegations of behind-the-curtain power brokering.

But Antonin Scalia, as it turns out, was a member of a 400-year-old secret hunting club called the International Order of St. Hubertus. The revelation came to light after his Feb. 13 death while on a hunting trip in Texas.

Of course we might imagine all the trappings of our favorite hunting trips, but this society apparently all but deified the hunter and his stewardship over game.

A recent Seattle Times article revealed that the justice had been a member of the society, an exclusive knightly order of hunters and conservationists. The order was founded in 1695, but did not gain a chapter in the United States until 1966, and it is still not widely known among hunters. Hence, the secret.

But that secret was compromised when Scalia, apparently a high-ranking member in the society, made the news when he died on a hunting trip with the group. Apparently Scalia was at the West Texas hunting ranch with several members of the society.

St. Hubertus is the patron saint of hunters, fishermen, trappers and mathematicians. As with all secret societies, this one comes with wonderful folklore. The son of a French Duke, St. Hubertus retreated into the woods and became an avid hunter, and one day he saw a stag with a vision of the crucifix between its antlers, and after that became the keeper of European hunting ethics.

Great stuff, that. The order’s motto is “Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes,” which roughly translates to “Honoring God by honoring His creatures.”

So the next time you’re out hunting with your buddies, maybe take a minute to consider this secret society. In fact, if you take along some Jaggermeister, maybe you too can have the vision St. Hubertus had.

© Siarhei Hreski | Dreamstime.com – Hunting