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Posts Tagged ‘Hunter’

No man is an island

October 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Our place is definitely not an island, let alone the castle that Englishmen try to turn their home into. It sometimes feels as if our privacy and tranquillity are under siege.

Today I’d just brought Kepler in from doing his early morning ablutions when all the dogs started baying and jumping up at the bedroom windowsill, nearly tearing the curtains.

Outside was a hunter making his leisurely way up the hillside in the company of 3 dogs. He wasn’t wearing an orange reflective jacket so I knew he wasn’t part of the official ‘squadra’ which, in any case, would have alerted us (I hope).

I shot out in my dressing gown and called to him from the drive.

The upshot of our shouted conversation was that he claimed to live locally and be after wild boar. He said he knew the huntsman who normally phones us, and that he would get our phone number off him and phone us in future.

His parting shot (no pun intended) was that since our land is not a ‘Reserve’ – by which is meant somewhere that hares, for example, are reared for sport – he has every right to hunt across it.

I phoned the normal hunt spokesman who just kept repeating that they always phone us. He wasn’t sure if he knew this guy. The one he thought it might be was going to a wedding today …

I phoned our neighbour who knew that pet dogs could be killed by hunts crossing the land, and also knew that nothing could be done about it.

I can understand that a boar hunt would be a complete farce if it had to circumvent this and that protected piece of land, but I should like us to be accorded the courtesy of a warning so that we have the opportunity to protect ourselves.

The trail bikers who came up the drive this afternoon warrant less consideration, as far as I’m concerned.

I would have expected the overgrown continuation of the track to be a deterrent in itself, but Clive says that in his heyday he would have taken a bike right up the hill, over the tussocky grass.

Hillside where trail bikers might have made sport

It follows, therefore, that  these bikers could in theory have spent all afternoon criss-crossing the field, mangling juniper bushes and orchid bulbs, endangering the dogs and driving us mad with the noise.

Which is why the West tribe as a unit, Kepler included, sent them packing.

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The ‘thrill’ of the hunt

October 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Since Damaris asked the chief honcho to give us warning before he and his calvary come charging across our land in search of some unfortunate creature, it has been relatively quiet on the hunting front. A few days ago, though, we started noticing a regular group of cars parked just off the last stretch of public road (before it becomes our private drive). From the rifle-shots, it was clear that they have taken to hunting in the woods belonging to the Church. These woods abut our land but are at least 100 metres from our house so we are out of range, at least.

I wouldn’t mind if they concentrated on shooting pigeons, the rabbits and hares which find our orchard so nutritious, wild boar and crows but they insist on shooting thrushes, woodpeckers and anything which is foolish enough to think a tree in the middle of the woods is a good place to live.

These hunters are a funny lot. Mainly middle-aged to elderly men, they dress up in camouflage gear, smoke the Italian equivalent of ‘Capstan Full Strength’ cigarettes and creep furtively from bush to bush. They will also take the liberty of throwing their rubbish down in your field and even building a hide from corrugated iron sheets and anything else at hand.

From time to time we have to go to the ‘Hunting and Fishing’ shop (also an ironmongers). We’ve renamed it the ‘Rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ shop’ for obvious reasons. It is usually full of the aforesaid old men hanging around boasting about (presumably) the smallest bird they’ve ever shot. Apparently it’s ok to shoot migrating birds because they aren’t native. You can never be too sure what they are talking about because the nose-tapping and whispering stops as soon as you enter the shop.

Fortunately there is a growing movement – particularly among the younger generation – that finds hunting unacceptable. Unfortunately, the government makes a great deal of money from license fees paid by hunters so it is not about to throw that revenue away. This leaves each individual land-owner to attempt to come to some agreement with the local hunters group.

Categories: Hunting Tags: , ,

It’s the hunting season again

September 22, 2008 2 comments

With the advent of Autumn, the hunting season recommences.

Umbrians have a very fixed idea of the value of animals – they are either there to work or to be eaten or preferably both. They have no concept of depletion of species, see no value in songbirds or rare flowers or butterflies. Their only thought is how good it will taste or whether it is in their way.

There are two sorts of hunter. The first is officially licensed by the state and they pay a fee each year for the privilege of wandering across anyone’s land shooting whatever they fancy as long as it isn’t owned by the landowner.  This means their dogs run amok and they can just pull up whenever and wander around. The only way to legally stop them is to pay the Comune a fee to have them barred and put up an expensive fence (our perimeter is several miles long). There are very precise rules about how close to the house they are allowed to come, how far they must be before they point a gun towards a property (quite a long way) and where they can park. They are mostly interested in wild boars.

The day of the hunt a sign goes up warning the public and then men in orange reflective jackets accompanied by packs of hounds with bells around their neck fan out into the woodland. Not that either of us approve of hunting but we have seen a wild boar family on our land and know how dangerous they can be to both us, our dogs and our orchard. We don’t lament an organised culling.

The other sort of hunter are basically sneaky. They arrive unannounced at about 5am and hide in our woods unless either I or one of our dogs who also sleeps light hears them. A chorus of the dogs barking and me shouting, “Via – questo e proprieta privata” (Go away, this is private property) usually shifts them although I even caught one once emptying all the rubbish out of his car onto our drive.

They will happily block your drive (something that licensed hunters are forbidden from doing) and will shoot anything which doesn’t move fast enough. This means thrushes and other song birds. One once showed my wife very proudly a mistlethrush he had shot and told her how ‘Good eating’ it was. She got very angry and was nearly sick.

Before we came here, they had nearly depleted our 20 acres of birdlife. After two years of living here, we now have woodpeckers, blackbirds, robins and buzzards again although it is still far from plentiful.

We have made it clear that we have zero tolerance as far as this goes.

They are a strange breed and are very cruel to animals generally. They often have decoy thrushes in cages to lure others to them. Not only that, they throw down poison to kill off competitors’ dogs. We know from speaking to our vet that nothing can be done about this poison and the dog dies in agony over a period of 2 days.

You see these old men (most of them are) in their camouflage gear hanging around the ‘rootin’, tootin’, shootin’ shop’ as I call it where they sell everything you could need for the big hunt. Although there is a growing animosity among younger Italians to this culture, it is still strong here in the mountains – particularly among the older generation who can see no wrong in it.

Categories: Hunting Tags: , , ,