(Hervé gives orders – hunters listen intently – beaters look for the parts of the forest with the least brambles)

About a dozen of us decided to go wild boar hunting yesterday. It was Bernadette’s idea – after the New Year’s dinner, we’d meet the next day around noon at her place for a three hour hunt. So, the next day (I was barely awake at noon, but gamely stuffing myself into warm pants, thick socks, and an old coat). We stood and shivered in the cold wind while Hervé, the forest guard, explained where we’d be going (the beaters, me, my daughter and five friends) and where the hunters would be posted (my husband, Bernadette, Benoit, and two others). Then we piled into the pick-up and drove to the forest, with Auguste on my daughter’s lap absolutely shaking with excitement. Auguste Loves to hunt. He’s a small dog, and the brambles are hellish for him. He has to leap like a dolphin to get through them, and the woods are nearly all brambles. But he’s got an amazing nose, and he has a voice that is deeper than you’d expect from such a little guy – and once he’s on the trail, he starts to bay and it sounds like a bell – all in cadence – Arroo, Arroo, Arroo – you know he’s following something.

(My daughter, starting off – note the long stick to beat the brambles with)

Well, we started off, and after about ten minutes of casting around, Auguste found a scent. Off he went, baying and bounding – disappearing into the forest. But you could hear him. He went off about a half a mile, and then suddenly a shot rang out. It was too far for us to know what had happened – it was a boar, that much we knew, but who’d gotten it and was it dead? Another shot rang out. We kept going, the beaters yelling and banging the trees with our sticks. About that time, a wild boar surged out of the brambles right in front of me, but it dodged the line (a very skinny line, with only a few beaters strung out over a quarter mile) And it headed to safety. We saw many, many roe deer. They were big and fat, and sprang over the brambles with leaps five and six feet high.

(After the drive – my daughter, a friend, and Auguste, all pretty tired, in front of a shooting stand)

When we got to the end of the line, before turning back to do the last part of the drive, Benoit, who had been posted at the point of the hunt, told us that Auguste had driven two boar his way, and he’d gotten them both. We called Auguste, who was standing on ‘his’ boar, and he reluctantly followed us to the end of the drive. But there were no more boar – he found a couple roe-deer, but he was too tired to give chase. We gathered at the meeting point while a couple hunters went to collect the boars in the pick-up. I was exhausted – I’d been walking through brambles for three hours, and it felt just like I’ve gotten over the flu, lol.

The boar in the pick-up -one small, one very large (we weighed it – 102 kilos!)