Gun shy

Reserve_de_chasseIt’s that time of year again: ‘La Chasse’ as it’s called around here. Hunting season. Leash your pets and beware of stray bullets if you go off the beaten path for a walk in the woods in France.

This time last year I posted about the perils of living in a culture of guns (which generated quite the lively debate in the comments!). I still believe that hunting is a better use of weapons than war or holdups, but still – Je me sens toute petite – I feel completely powerless in the presence of men with guns. Because hunting is, at least in these parts, an almost exclusively male pursuit.

It’s hard to argue with a centuries-old tradition that still puts food on the table. Le gibier (game) is considered a delicacy by many French people, and enjoyed as part of the autumnal menu. But every year there are accidents, some tragic. In my husband’s family, an uncle was killed some years ago by (un)friendly fire from one of his own hunting party in Normandy.

So, if you see signs like this one, beware. A hunting they will go, quite possibly just steps from where you’re walking the dog.

I must admit that while I do eat meat I am not a huge fan of le gibier, which is rather strong tasting. What about you? Are you game for game?


  1. Multifarious meanderings · October 14, 2014

    There are a good number of hunters in this region too (I live in the Hérault). They seem to enjoy dressing up like GI Jo and eating baguette and saucisson with their pals rather than actually catching anything; it’s a playdate with weapons for overgrown schoolboys around here.
    I have nothing against hunting – I enjoy eating game from time to time. However, the way they hunt can be safe or downright dangerous, and hunters who threaten walkers on the public ground because they consider that they own the place generally get a good run for their money with me. Likewise, those who starve their dogs so that they are more performant also get a hard deal from me.

    • MELewis · October 14, 2014

      Sounds like you are one tough cookie! And you crack me up with the ‘play-date with weapons!’ 🙂

  2. cheergerm · October 14, 2014

    Keep your eyes and ears peeled Mrs France! Personally, I am no fan of the gun. I remember a boyfriend years ago who’s uncle had some wild boar a friend had hunted and whilst I did try it, it was far too gamey, rich and strong for me.

    • MELewis · October 14, 2014

      Yes, and the texture can also be rather stringy. Of course, there’s an argument that hunting is ‘fair game’ and it’s certainly a more humane approach to the kill that battery farming. So I’m of two minds on that – but definitely not happy to share the path with weapons.

  3. Victoria, The TexanInSouthAfrica · October 14, 2014

    Hello! I’m glad I have stumbled upon your blog- it seems full of good thoughts, objective opinions, and great recipes!
    (As my screen name suggests), I am from Texas, but am now living in South Africa. I grew up in a rural, agricultural environment, and am the daughter of a 5th generation livestock rancher. However ‘country’ my roots are, I did not grow up eating venison or hunting, so until I met my husband it was a bit of a unknown topic for me. My husband is a (very) avid hunter, and we even have several business that are either directly or indirectly involved with hunting. As a Texan woman, almost every other one of my girl friends back home is a hunter (but I think that this is because of the large amounts of land that almost everyone has access to or owns coupled with their fathers and/or boy friends encouragement to participate) so I tend to forget about the gender stigma of hunting-is-for-boys-only that exists in other parts of the world. Does your husband (or do any friends) enjoy hunting? If so, (even if you don’t want to shoot) you should ask him if you could accompany and observe- I know it would mean a lot to him and be a great experience to share together. I have now been hunting countless times, with the game ranging from Blackbuck to Nyala to Leopard, but have never shot anything myself. I had the opportunity to shoot a Whitetail deer in Texas once, but I just could not see the sport in shooting a deer at a feeder from a blind- especially since, at that time, I was just being introduced to hunting and didn’t even like venison- so I didn’t take the shot. Now, with all of the appreciation I have for hunting, I have a whole list of what I would like to hunt someday soon! (A Bushbuck is a the top followed by ample dove hunting.) Thinking of dove hunting, I know that is a very big sport in Spain, and it is a great introductory activity for beginner hunters. 🙂 (And super fun!)
    Gun safety is always extremely important; I have no respect for anyone of whom handles a firearm in an unsafe or indecent manner. The worst sentence I could hear a person say is “But it’s unloaded”, those words precede a large percentage of accidental discharge cases. However, I firmly believe that every person should have a working knowledge of how different firearms function and shoot.
    I compete in IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) activities, and I know that France has a chapter. You should look into it because it’s really fun and a great experience to have in a controlled and ultra-safe environment- and they (should) welcome women shooters with open arms!
    Sorry for going on a rant. 🙂
    As for eating game, we use a marinade on all of our plains game venison here in South Africa, and I really enjoy it. (Which is saying something, because I am a picky eater!
    Venison Marinade:
    100ml Lemon Juice
    100ml Olive Oil
    100ml Worchestershire Sauce
    1 Finely Chopped Onion
    Garlic, Salt, and Pepper to taste.
    Combine and pour over venison in Casserole Pan, make enough marinate to just cover your tenderised venison. Refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, and then grill meat until medium.


  4. Victoria, The TexanInSouthAfrica · October 14, 2014

    I take it back- It looks like the only IDPA clubs in Europe are in Italy. 😦

    • MELewis · October 14, 2014

      No worries as it’s unlikely I’d sign up. But thanks for the marinade recipe! And for following along! 🙂

  5. Mélanie · October 15, 2014

    @”I am not a huge fan of le gibier…” – same here, Ma’am… 😉 and btw, I’m not a “hunters’ fan” either… I came across some of them in the Aveyron last weekend: loud hill-billies(des ploucs!), brrr!!! I totally agree with ‘Multifarious meanderings’… 😀

    • MELewis · October 16, 2014

      It must depend on where you live. Thankfully we don’t get too many of the ‘plouc’ (Love that word!) in our parts. And I’ve also met a few nice ones who are just out to enjoy nature. It’s their weapons that make me nervous!

  6. Osyth · October 15, 2014

    Of course we are riddled with hunters here in deepest Auvergne too. In summer those same boys (and girls – in fact a friend told me that where the overall numbers of hunters in France are decreasing, the numbers of women hunting has increased in recent years) get on their quad bikes and chase one another through the woods so, as a peaceful walker with an extra small dog, there is a certain amount of disruption whatever the season particularly at weekends. All that said, I am not anti-hunting. In fact I have had some delightful conversations with hunters along the way but the locals, generally pretty responsible are quite different to the city folks who flock in for ‘la grande chasse’ they are often unskilled, will shoot ANYTHING that moves and my lovely gentle neighbour told me to take the greatest care when the signs go up. My dog wears hi-viz and for the most part we stay on marked paths but still its best to stay indoors when the outsiders invade. As to game – I do eat it .. but I’m not keen on it when well hung … which is not a reference to its ball size 😉

    • MELewis · October 16, 2014

      Perhaps you mean ‘balle’ size? Lol. You really do live in deepest provincial France there in the Auvergne so do be careful of yourself and the pooch even on marked paths!

  7. A Crooked Mile · October 15, 2014

    Very interesting post, as I’ve been around hunters my whole life (my father, cousins, etc). Is hunting season only in the fall in France? And what is it that people hunt for mostly? My father abandoned guns long ago in favor of a bow and arrows. He says it gives the animals a fighting chance. And it’s safer for unsuspecting dog walkers since the hunter must get very close to the prey and see exactly where to aim.

    • MELewis · October 16, 2014

      I believe the hunting season starts in the fall and continues until mid-winter. Presumably to respect the animals when they have young? They seem to mostly go after small game and wild birds like pheasants, but also sometimes the wild boar (sanglier) and deer. The bow and arrow approach does sound better for the animals, but what frightens me about that is how silent it would be, even at close range – at least with the gun shots I get fair warning to make tracks!

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