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.