It’s the weekend and time to turn our thoughts to taking the dogs for a long early autumn walk. There are many hiking trails, clearly signposted and for the most part really easy to follow. Today we walked Les Hauts de Bujaleuf. This is a 12km walk that goes straight from our doorstep so no getting in the car involved. The walk takes us down into Bujaleuf with panoramas over the Maulde valley, Lake Sainte-Hélène and its beach. The path runs along the lake and into the forest, in the heart of the Millevaches Regional Natural Park.
The walk takes about 3 hours, and as we are in the hunting season it started off quite eventfully with us walking right into a group of hunters and hounds. We were aware that it is hunting season and knew the signs even before we literally walked right into them. With this is mind here is a handy guide for walking, running or cycling during the hunting season.
Hunting season in Haute Vienne
For most of South West France the hunting season runs from 13th September to 29 February for Charente, Charente Maritime, Deux Sevres, Gironde, Haute Vienne, Vendee and the Vienne.
You can expect to find troops of hunters dressed in camouflage green, and sometimes wearing high-vis jackets armed with a gun across their shoulders with a pack of large Beagle hounds. The noise of the dogs alone can be quite intimidating.
Be under no illusion, accidents do happen and every year a number of hunters and passers-by do get injured or killed by accidental shootings. It is therefore particular important to take extra care to follow some simple guidelines when you are out in the countryside.
Here are some ways to stay safe: -
1. Be aware. Simply know that it is hunting season, keep your eyes and ears open for the sounds of the hunt. Don’t wear headphones and try not to get too distracted.
2. Wear bright clothing. Make sure you can be seen and not mistaken for an animal. Also avoid certain colours that make you look like an animal such as browns and tans.
3. Stick to the signposted routes. Stick to well walked and obvious paths and roads. Even then, it isn’t unheard of for motorists to be hit by bullets though their windscreens!
4. Hunting is allowed every day of the week; however, the most popular days are of course Saturday and Sunday.
5. If you come across a hunt, make some noise or in some other way make the hunters aware that you are walking in the area. Say hello, wish them luck, be friendly and be seen.
6. Try to avoid walking at dawn or dusk… this is when visibility is low and for many hunters a great time to be out as this is when many animals are more visible as they naturally come out of the undergrowth at these times.
7. Make sure you are familiar with the hunting signs you may come across which can help you recognise where hunting is allowed or prohibited. However, please note that there are actually no formal requirements for landowners to display signs and unfortunately many are ignored by hunters.
Common hunting signs: -
It’s useful to know what the signs mean in French.
Hunting not allowed – as declared by landowner:
Chasse interdite Refuge ASPAS – chasse interdite
Hunting not allowed – land is designated a reserve
Réserve de chasse Réserve de chasse et de faune sauvage
Réserve nationale de chasse et de faune sauvage
Hunting allowed – hunting or access limits applied by local hunters or land owners
Chasse Guardée Chasse Réservée Chasse privée ACCA de xxx Amicale de chasse de xxx