Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Who are the Chasse in France?

This is a very touchy subject here in the French countryside.
The hunting fraternity, known as the Chasse, are in almost every hamlet, village and town in France. 
 Mostly, this takes place at twilight, early morning, and weekends.

The main requirements for the chasse are ...

Dogs, usually French beagles, but other breeds can be used.
A white van to transport the said animals.
Guns, big ones for killing the animals.
A brass horn.
Glow in the dark jackets so they don't shoot at each other.
Camouflage trousers.

There are probably other handy items the chasse use, but the above are the mainstay of the hunting club.

The chasse can usually be heard before they are seen, a slightly off tune and breathless puff or two on the horn, loads of barking dogs and some distant garbled French swear words.
The lookouts can be seen at the edges of the fields and roadsides, eagerly awaiting even the smallest glimpse of something running through the trees or hedgerows.

These glimpses can be confusing though, as I've heard tales of the local butcher or pardre taking a quiet stroll on a misty autumn morning, suddenly taking off across the field like the proverbial shot rabbit, keen not to be the target of the chasse that day.

It has happened on more than one occasion, that an innocent person, out collecting ceps or mushrooms, has been the unfortunate target of the huntsmen. 

So, if you are new to France and French country ways, I will give you a few tips that may save your life.

Take your walks outside the dusk & dawn hours and preferably at the times of the year when large animals cannot be hunted.
Wear a dayglow jacket or gilet. Not guaranteed to save your life, but at least it will be easier to recover your body.
Learn how to say " I surrender'" in French. I'll help you, it's "Je me rends."
Don't be a fungi collector, far too dangerous in this part of the world.

Do I like the Chasse? 

Well, I tolerate them, after all, it is an age old tradition, and well, 
What harm do they do!


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