Hunting Wild Boar in France
The thrill you feel at the approach of a large Boar is completely different to the excitement of a really good windy day on the Grouse or successfully bringing down a left and right of extremely high curling Pheasants. You are armed with a high powered rifle and there is usually a clear piece of ground between the Boar and yourself over which it has to cross before it can reach you. A well organised Boar shoot such as those we run in France minimises the actual risk to the hunter, however there is still a real feeling of tension as you hear the animal crashing through the undergrowth towards you combined with a proper work out for your heart as it starts to beat much faster as your quarry approaches.
I’ve been lucky enough to hunt wild Boar in a number of countries in Europe including Poland (stalking under the moon – definitely do it if you ever get the chance!), driven in Spain, Hungary and indeed France itself. On all occasions I have been lucky enough to be successful and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself on the hunts themselves. In each country the way the hunt takes place is slightly different and certainly in driven terms France is probably the most unique of all.
We are fortunate enough to have strong links with a very well run hunting estate in the Loire Valley. Here the home team of both French and English men and women put on some really excellent days Boar hunting whilst keeping a good eye on all safety matters. It is an excellent location for those who have either not hunted Boar before or wish to enjoy French cuisine in an extremely comfortable lodge together with some very exciting hunting. However, for those who just wish to shoot a large number of Boar and are not so worried about accommodation, catering, etc. then they are probably better off heading further east but looking at the records, we have managed between 14 and 29 Boar on all of our two day hunts in the last few years and given that we take a team of 6 hunters this always ensures that everyone gets shooting and that usually everyone is successful.
Boar hunting in France is not just about the act of shooting Boar. The use of a mixed pack of hounds including small terrier like animals that come in to their own when the Boar is at bay; larger “blood hound” types that focus on following the scent of the quarry and more traditional English fox hound style dogs that happily ‘give tongue’ as they charge after the Boar, all combine to create a great spectacle for the hunter.
We usually position those hunting in high seats dotted around the Park (locations are chosen with care, with thought given to the open ground which any Boar would need to cross as well as the particular hunter’s skill and dexterity).
The huntsman themselves ride mountain bikes and are suitably clad in high visibility orange to ensure that both the large (and often fairly cross), Boar as well as the keen but wary hunters are easily able to see them as they try and marshal the hounds through thick undergrowth at various points in the countryside. They mark the passage of the Boar by blowing their horns in a series of different signals to let everyone know where the Boar is, its current state of health and where it may end up. It is not a case of merely taking a seat on a cold ride and waiting 3 hours for a Boar to silently cross in the direction you are not looking. Here the activity is fast and furious with their constantly being something to at least listen to if not see during the course of much of the day.
We typically hunt from 9am to noon before returning to the lodge for lunch and depending on the time of year a period of relaxation before hunting again in the afternoon. Later on in the winter it does get much colder and the available hunting time is shortened due to the hours of daylight.
The French hospitality is second to none and visitors get the chance to sample both the Boar which they are hunting as well as other examples of local Loire Valley cuisine, together with wines carefully chosen by the house manager who also doubles as an extremely knowledgeable sommelier.
Travel options are varied – it takes 5 hours by car from the Channel Tunnel or 6 hours by Eurostar and French TGV to the town of Angers. Angers has a private airport which is particularly well positioned or indeed there are scheduled commercial flights to Nantes, an hour and a half to the west.
Although the current UK wild Boar population is expanding rapidly it is likely to be sometime before there are sufficient numbers to hunt in a driven manner in the UK. Until that time the Launay valley offers one of the most accessible high quality driven Boar hunts available to UK hunters.
If you’re interested in experiencing the thrill of Wild Board shooting, then we are sure we will be able to recommend something that meets and exceeds all your expectations. Our website (www.williampowellsporting.co.uk) can only give you a flavour of what we do, so please do telephone us on 01295 661 033 or 01295 701 701 and we would be only too happy to talk you through exactly what it is you are looking for.