Hunting is deeply anchored in the genes of the French people: Almost 1,3 million hunters are present in the country – more than in any other European region. The majority of hunters are from wide, agriculturally characterized regions. One, who knows more than almost anyone about hunting in France, is Philippe Jaeger. Being a hunting journalist and photgrapher, he has travelled all around the world, but also explored almost every area of hunting in France. One of the favourite destinations of the Alsatian is the department Tarn et Garonne, a piece of western France, not very developed for tourism, situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic. We are accompanying him and his K3 on a stalk.
There are hunters who know the area like the back of their hand, there are hunters who know the flora and fauna and there are those who are excellent shots. Then there are people like Philippe Jaeger, who opened up to hunting with thought and intuition. You get the feeling, that this strong, trained person who is in his prime could be dropped with a parachute, his rifle (and his small Münsterländer Oryx) anywhere in the world – together they would find their way and prey. A complete hunter.
The department Tarn et Garonne is a large, park-like terrain with oak forests, meadows, fields surrounded by field walls and hedges. In-between, there are far-flung farmsteads and the characteristic houses and pigeon towers made from field boulders. To summarise: a paradise for roebucks. As everywhere else in Europe, these horned fellows are in the rut during the middle of the summer. Hunting time! The air is shimmering in the summer heat of 35 degrees.
The French hunters are organised in local associations; every association has its own shooting plan, which is strictly controlled by the authorities – there is a hunting police present and every shot animal has to be marked straight away. Whoever is caught with a shot animal that is not marked with a band between tendon and leg is risking a lot: hunting license, expensive equipment – possibly even the car he used to get into the hunting area. It may be the difference in philosophy that makes these hunting grounds so attractive to German hunters: Bucks here carry (seemingly undisturbed) opulent trophies through the forests and meadows. The reason for this might be, that the French colleagues, in the tradition of Obelix the Gaul, are mainly interested in wild boars – and happily and cheaply sell the licenses for roe deer to the hunting tourists.