Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Know Why Antis Get The Hump...

(Remember you can click on any picture to make it aggrandize itself.)

So off for a day with stghounds in the forest of Cm piegn. As you can see, a pretty day to be out.

Any more in that thing?

Lots of people at the Rapport....

And the stars of the show were ready!

Off we go...

Nice to see a good clean turn out.

The first draw.

At the second, hounds spoke!

Oops, ro der. Well, move along...

"Regardez-moi! I am ze most beautiful 'orse evair, non?"

Again, hounds!

Um, piggies this time. Oh well, third is the charm...

Sure enough! A good strong cry this time, and moving quickly!

Off and away! There was a good view of him, stopped and thinking,

Right behind that character's hand!

Alright. If you were the monarch of the forest, which way would you run- across this allee,

Or this one? No lie!

So away he went. He ran for a while, and we stopped to listen at this bit of forest. And what happened? Here he came, left to right , not thirty yards into the forest. Hounds were two long strides behind him, I thought it was all over. We happened to be beside one of my favourite French hunters to see, and as everyone bore right I heard her say, quietly, "Non, recule." I thought no way, there isn't any room to recule, they are all but nipping him now!
Well what happened but along he came, this time THREE strides in front and only twenty yards away. His gallant risk had bought himself some distance.

Across the allee, hounds pursued but they began to string out.

And it was run and listen, run and listen for an hour or more.

Staff had to dash!

At one point he picked up some biches, and then split off to let them take the heat. Didn't work, but again it bought time and distance. On again, barreling along.

Hunting #1, Ecole #2.

Mme. J is never far from the right spot.

He's in there somewhere...

Good photographers set it up in advance...

Hounds were hot on him again! You think you have road problems?

But an overrun, he didn't cross after all.

Hounds still at it, he came this far and now back again. But adding a little more distance for himself...

No luck here, he's gone back again.

We took another long loop to a fresh allee. Hold hard!
What's that crashing through the leaves?

There he is!!

Under these treetops!

Two strides away from me, behind this tree!

Straight through a line of whip cracking, "ARRRRRET!"-shouting, trompe- blowing, galloping hunters...

"Sacre Bleu! Zut Alors!"

Right into the city of Cm pieg ne!!

Where could he...

Uh oh...

"Well, you chassed me 'ere, wat air you goang to do wiz me?"

Last season, this happened. With the help of un agent féminin de l'office de la chasse et de la faune sauvage, that one was given Vitamin S, removed, and released to run another day.

As, I believe, it should be. When game, through bravery, cleverness, or accident, runs into a place WE have made which prevents its escape, it has beaten us fair and square.

This fellow ran hard and clever. On three separate occasions, by my own eye, he was only three or four canter strides in front of a full on pack of hounds. I would have bet money each time that he was had, the old fashioned way. Over and over, he jinked and twisted, adding distance every time. He picked up Biches and used them to confuse hounds.

And that double back!

And bursting right past our line, across a busy street, into a neighbourhood!

There was still an hour of daylight. If there had not been a BIG CONCRETE CITY to trap him, hounds would likely have prevailed. But he won, give him best and let him go.

Unfortunately, not this time.

He stood at bay, defiant, for fifteen minutes or so.

And then we killed him.

My understanding from what I overheard with my poor French, is that the police, who arrived and took charge, ordered it. I suppose that the other choices- lassoing and drawing him back to the forest, or waiting for the dart, lost out to public safety risk.

Of which there was some. It was rush hour. Ropes break, drugs take time and sometimes fail, wild animals decide to run for it, crowds gather and do stupid things. Not faulting the tactical necessity of the decision, just hating the moral wrongness of it.

At least they let us do the job quickly. Many a U.S. SWAT team would have insisted on "taking the shot", when the hunt staff have killed more of these creatures than most marksmen have ever seen.

I hate it that modern technology more and more often impedes hunting. Sure it's bad that highways slow our runs down and towns impede them. But worse is an event like today, when the world we live in most of the time gets in the way of the ancient one we try to honour and preserve.

The title of this post comes from years ago. I was out with a pack of foxhounds in England. Hounds found, and their fox got moving. Almost instantly, he ran toward a road just as a huge lorry blew past.

The wind blast and racket, the vibration in the earth, stunned the fox. And before he could get his bearings, hounds were on him. The truck- something that isn't part of the hunt at all- killed him.

The Terrierman stepped over and dug a little pit for the body. As he lifted it in, this man who enthusiastically killed foxes for a living muttered,

"I know why antis get the hump".


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