Thursday, 1 October 2009

La Chasse

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La chasse (hunting) is an institution in France where the general public is a little closer to the food chain than in either England or The Netherlands.  Every red-blooded male is out with his gun on a Sunday killing anything that moves. Having said that, la chasse is far more regulated these days than it used to be. By the early 80s there were virtually no wild animals (including little birds) left in the whole country, only cities still had sparrows, everywhere else everything had been blown to pieces by the millions of guns in the possession of the French population. Many accidents occurred killing both other hunters but also unsuspecting walkers out for an Sunday afternoon stroll.

Now all hunts have to registered, supervised and all hunters within the hunting group must wear fluorescent jackets. Also to protect the wildlife, only certain animals can be shot and only at certain times of the year. The result, the forests are filling up with wildlife again and we can once again hear the sound of song birds.

Each animal has its own “chasse” dates from 20th September to 28th February for deer, 15th August to 28th February for wild boar, 20th September to 13th December for hare east of Saône, 11th October to 13th December for hare west of the Saône  and for pheasant and other game birds 20th September to 31st December, no hunting when there is snow and the local paper reminded hunters that racing pigeons are not wild animals and are protected by the law! However, the Chasse supplement of the local paper did not mention the dates for the most hunted animal in Burgundy. Fortunately during our picnic at Cluny’s Ouvrez les Portes a couple of weeks ago, we were given those dates as well. From the 1st of July until mid February you can hunt snails!

 On the 20th of September (coincidently my birthday), we had to sort out a chasse of our own. It was a drizzly day but worse than that, the toilet in one of the gites had given up the ghost, the chasse (flushing mechanism) needed replacing and with guests arriving that evening, time was of the essence. After lots of water on the floor, lots of cursing and two tons of silicon we had a leak free chasse, just in time for the new guests.

One toilet fixed only three more to go. The start of the chasse season has now taken on a whole new meaning.

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