Hunting in Provence
Visiting Provence in the winter is a pure delight. Spending a day out hunting will greatly add pleasure to the trip. Hunting is a sort of popular religion in Provence, few people would believe how much before actually living it. The use and breeding of good gundogs and hounds is a real local art. For foreign visitors we can organize guided days bird hunting over dogs and hound driven wild boars. The pictures below will show you the landscapes and organization of a days boar hunting. Bird days will take place in the same sort of setting. We will put a price on any project on simple request by email.
A day in the life of boar hunters in Provence
Under the big blue sky, a hilltop village of Provence
peaceful life and setting
white wine chilled, ready to be served
two friends from Wisconsin and Tuscany meet for a holiday
and small ports
enoying a "wife endorsed" life on the Mediterranean sea
but this morning starts at 5.00 am, for a strong wake up coffee
a first picture with a boar's head is shot
croissants are bough at the baker (still) nicely opening early for country workers
and we are meeting a dozen of local hunters at dawn in the hills of the backcountry
a hunting spot is determined by a sort of pow wow
promptly joined with powerful 4 x 4 vehicles
now the "guns" must have taken their positions scattered in the hills
and we stay alone with "Pitou" who will be handling the small pack of dogs
they will push the boars in total frreedom equipped with radio trackers that will avoid to search them sometimes until midnight or the next morning if they were following too far...
Pitou remains faithful to the old short barreled shotgun with slugs
the search starts for us by a long trek with the dogs on the lead
in search of a good "foot"... a track of boars that could have passed during the night
when such place is found the dogs firstly pull, then soon start to bark
and are finally released
they are barking in the brush, very near from us, we have heard the noise of a short fight, but seen nothing yet... The thick covert explains the use of short barelled shotguns.
our way takes us to funny camouflaged constructions used as "blinds" to wait the migrations of birds
as the sun rises, we are discovering gorgeous landscapes
we are back again in action. Pitou has heard someting as the barkings weregetting closer to us
he flushed a boar that remained invisible. We only noticed the noise and ... the smell
we are bumping into the "cabanon" which is the very place where the movies "Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Sources", based on Marcel Pagnol novels, were shot.
a well deserved pause is enjoyed,. It may not appear on the pictures, but Pitou is crossing the steep hills at the speed of the dogs and boars. He's been doing this all his life like 5 days a week... which is NOT our case !
much farther from us, one of the guys we had seen this morning was waiting at a strategic position, well hidden on the sort of high seat perched in an oak
a truly strategic position near a half dry small pond that allowed him a safe shot
as he explained later when everybody joined him to see the result
in Provence stories must be told with gesture. Our friend from Italy appreciates it.
the boar he shot is a wonderful animal
the day is finished, it is around noon. Only Pitou is still running after one of his dogs. The other relax and evoke the adventures of the day with the game keeper a fit young man riding a mountain bike.
the little caravan leaves again now
to join another "cabanon" where the boars will be butchered and a picnic served
now it is really time for a rest and a cool drink... a "pastis" of course.
this dogs feels badly sorry in his kennel. But no boar hunt for him, he is a "hare dog".
two big boars have been shot and the men are weighing them with difficulties
one reaches 80 and the other 95 kilos (the double in pounds). Mediterranean boars would grow up to 110, 120 kilos, so 95 kilos is an excellent quarry. The boars are butchered, and a BBQ prepared.
a happy table is gathered
good mood and good food for hungry hill crossers
none of these guys is young; Though ! the man on the left is 86, smokes cigarettes, eats charcoal grilled meat, drinks pastis, wine and grappa and hunts every possible day like a young man... Maybe this is what they call the Mediterranean diet ?
after a last glance at our beloved hills of the "Sainte Baume"
it is time to leave the hunting grounds
12 septembre 2007, La Cadière d'Azur. Var.