Mushroom picking – a dangerous occupation

Hunting season here is in full swing. At the weekends, the surrounding countryside resounds with the sound of explosions and the subsequent echoes off the mountains make the whole area sound like a war zone. Wild boar (see this post) are hunted extensively, but still manage to outwit their pursuers a lot of the time.

To avoid being shot at, it is highly inadvisable to be out and about in the woods when a hunt is in progress. Mushroom picking, very inopportunely, coincides with this period and a couple of weekends ago, friends of ours were out picking mushrooms with their kids. They were a good couple of miles away from a battue*, which was taking place higher up the mountain and so considered themselves safe from any stray bullets, ricochets or from being mistaken for a wild creature by an over-zealous hunter.

What they didn’t bank on was that a herd of about 20 wild boar, frightened out of their hiding place by the hunters further up, would seek refuge in the valley. Their quiet Sunday afternoon looking for chanterelles mushrooms was very briefly interrupted, when a couple of the porcine front-runners barrelled past a few yards away from where they stood, gawping, basket and knife in hand.

Wild boar, despite their size are very silent creatures, but even so the unanticipated shock of having 120 kgs of pig hurtle between the parents and their children caused a certain consternation. The kids were momentarily terrorised but no harm was done; except to a basket, which, having been squeezed a bit too hard by one of the boys had its handle snapped clean off.

* A “Battue” is conducted by several hunters, usually for wild boar or roe deer in this part of the woods.

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