Sunday, September 8, 2013

La Chasse


Today was the first day of the winter hunt season or la chasse and a day when we would normally awaken to the sound of ‘celebratory’ gunfire around the village. However, for some reason, all was quiet this morning, something even my French neighbour commented on as unusual.

From now until March, every Thursday and Sunday (plus some Saturdays) we need to be extra vigilant if we are brave enough to go out on our bikes or walk the dog, as a hunter, his dogs and his gun could be just around the corner. Guns scare me. When you find yourself between the hunter and the deer what do you do? We usually find singing, dancing and anything else that draws attention to us seems to help, before turning around and getting the hell out of there. We have also bought the dog a florescent vest. I am not sure how a black Labrador could be mistaken for a deer or a boar, but I hope it is less likely to happen if she is wearing her vest. Thankfully she doesn’t seem too bothered about how stylish she is when she is out for a run (unlike Ed). 

french village diaries hunting France la chasse
Mini in her safety vest
Every year there are stories about the hunter who accidentally killed himself when he tripped, the hunter accidentally shot by another hunter, the mushroom picker shot when mistaken for an animal, the walker killed mistakenly by a hunter and a hunt dog shot by one of the hunt. As a responsible parent and dog owner I do not want us to become one of these statistics. We will also be keeping our fingers crossed that the many deer, hare, foxes and birds that we see when we are out and about will also survive the hunt season. The hunting dogs can be quite excitable, especially the young ones at the beginning of the season and so for their safety our ducks, chickens and goose will not be roaming in the orchard on hunt days. This is not my favourite time of year.

french village diaries hunting France la chasse
A lovely sight to see
There is another side to the argument and I appreciate the farmers feel the need to control the wildlife population. I have seen the crop damage and I’m sure left unchecked it wouldn’t be long before enough crops had been destroyed to cause food price hikes and shortages that would also lead to public unrest. My French neighbour who grew up in the village and whose father would hunt game birds to add meat to their diet, told me that she rarely saw deer in the fields and woods when she was younger. She believes many have been bred and released just to fulfill the hunt which makes me even more sad. The other issue that concerns me is the alcohol and gun issue. We all know alcohol and driving is dangerous so why do so many believe alcohol and guns to be acceptable?

If you are out and about in rural France during the hunt season, be aware the hunt days will be different from area to area and please stay safe.



This post is linked to Paulita's Ponderings Dreaming of France.

10 comments:

  1. I would definitely be cautious too. I can see why you are worried. The deer population has gone up a lot here, but it's because there aren't predators around any more. Do you want to play along with Dreaming of France today? Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

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  2. Why not take a weapons safety class and join "la chasse?" You might feels less afraid around guns and have a new appreciation for what it takes to literally bring home the bacon. Culling of deer herds is necessary and there is nothing quite so delicious, if one is not vegetarian, as home sourced venison.

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    1. Laura if I did that I would be the only female hunter in France! It is a man thing over here and I get so much pleasure from watching deer graze and run free I truly couldn't kill one myself. I struggled enough on the chickens we had bought to raise for meat!

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  3. Your posts are always so pertinent! Have just written about this in the latest book - that tension between those who do and those who don't. Whichever way you look at it, the woods are a different place between Sept and March.

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    1. Ooh! New Julia Stagg book - quivers with anticipation and excitement!

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  4. What a lovely, thoughtful post. I've only ever been to France in spring and summer so haven't even thought about this as an issue. I didn't grow up with a gun or hunting culture either and I fully understand your concerns. It would make me nervous too.

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    1. My husband read somewhere that as non hunters we are much safer than if we were joining in and that is only the risk of being taken out by another hunter - only yesterday I read about a stag that had attacked and stabbed a hunter. C'est la vie!

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  5. I will be wearing bright clothing on all of my walks for the next few months.

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    1. Don't know about down your way, but the market stalls here have been full of hideous florescent clothes all summer - maybe I should get myself some!

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