Updated: Dec 9, 2021
After many years of living for a few weeks a year on the outskirts of our local village I had an invite to join the village hunt. Over the years we had witnessed the many comings and goings of the three times a week hunt, held during August to late February. I must say at this point the only reason I can see that makes hunting ok is if the animal is used as a food source and that the animal is not treated to any cruelty. Hunting wild Boar around the countryside of our village fits this bill. There are no “upper” class people who dress up to go hunting in our village. The hunters are made up of the local farmers and related guests. The boar are a problem in the area and cause lots of damage to the grapes resulting in poor harvests which in turn impacts the hunters pockets. The hunt is led by the “Chef de Chasse” Gerard who for years was only known as “Boar Man” by our children! This was mainly due to him driving around the area at that time in a very battered Nissan pick up with a large sticker of a wild boar on the doors.
I was picked up at a very dark 06:00 on the track outside our house. I was collected by Reno, a fellow Landrover owner and friend, and we reported to what I will call hunt headquarters!
I will admit to being slightly apprehensive as we arrived at Hunt Headquarters.The outside area was brightly lit as was the inside of the building. In the back of my mind was the possibility of being involved in some strange initiation ceremony!!
I entered the headquarters and was greeted in English by another Landrover owner, Michel who farms vines behind our house.
”elp yourself to coffee” Well I had no idea he spoke any English, so far so good! At this point I could have had coffee, wine or a spirit had I so wished. There was bread and local saussison freely available.
I was outside having my coffee as one by one the hunters arrived all dressed in camouflage clothing topped off with fluorescent red jackets and hats. A hearty bonjour a shake of the hands with everyone and off for a coffee. One old chap even arrived still wearing his slippers which caused great mirth amongst the assembled crew!
Finally after lots of hand shaking the Chef de Chasse came out and told us where we were going to be hunting for the morning and who was taking what position in his chosen area.
We parked as near to our post as possible everyone who was in our area was now parked and setting about filling water bowls for the dogs and loading their rifles. The atmosphere was quite tense everyone whispering as we set off as quietly as possible.
I was with Reno and we walked stealthily down a path alongside a small dry river all set in a deep limestone valley. We crossed the dry riverbed and climbed up the side of the valley which really resembled a cliff. Finally perched on a ledge we had a good view across the bend of the valley. It was actually quite cold as the sun was not high enough to shine into the depths of the valley.