In my previous post I mentioned that we had come across our first French hunting party while sitting on the wall admiring the Château de Corbelin. Out of the blue, we suddenly heard lots of dogs barking and a few shots being fired in the distance. As we had come from a country where gun control is very strict and so are the rules for using guns, we were a bit alarmed, thinking that something was amiss. In Australia, the use of guns along public roadsides is not permitted and one can also not use these items near or in areas where people live. Hunting activities are therefore generally limited to remote and private lands.
Looking at the Google Map below, the marker is placed near the wall where we were sitting. The hunting party were some way up the road (D19) in the wooded area (shown green on the map). This looked to be rather close to the road and a bit close to where people were living! But we knew nothing about the laws in France when it came to hunting.
It turns out that France the hunting laws are a bit different but just as strict. It is necessary to have a licence and hunters have to complete a course and then pass a theory and practical exam before the licence can be issued. The sport is practiced between September and February and we were touring in October, so this explained why we saw/heard shooters and their dogs a few times. I have seen a number of pictures and paintings of hunters and their dogs and I enjoyed seeing the ‘real thing’ in action, even though we were always some way off.
One of our B&B hosts was a hunter – his preference was to hunt wild boar (which I thought was something that only happened in Asterix books!). Not only was this aspect of French culture a total revelation to me, but we were then treated to a dinner of wild boar during our stay! It was delicious and we really appreciated that it had been specially prepared for us as we were from Australia.
Hunting can be dangerous for others. Apparently each year about 25 hunters die from wounds inflicted accidentally by other hunters (Ref: Lonely Planet – France). This travel guide also suggests that one should keep an eye out out for ‘Chasseurs‘ or ‘Chasse gardeé‘ signs and stay well clear.
I did get startled a few times with a gun going off suddenly in the distance (much to the amusement of my cycling partner!), but never felt in any danger as we were never that close to the action. How would you feel about cycling in areas where guns are being used during the day for hunting? Would this be enough to make you to ride somewhere else instead?