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Louis
.333 member


Reged: 13/05/15
Posts: 406
Loc: France
My 2018-2019 hunting season
      #332693 - 25/09/19 06:02 AM

I realize that, although it is almost time to start reporting on the current hunting season, I have not yet reported on the 2018-2019 one. In short, although I did not have many occasions to go hunting I managed to enjoy some good sport and harvest some fine game.

I hunted throughout the season with the Winkler (Ferlach) kipplauf in 7x65R mounted with a Swarovski 1,5-6x42 and zeroed for RWS KS 8 grams ammunition; I already presented that rifle on the Forum.






Roe buck stalking starts in France on the 1st of June, however the peak of the rutting season in my area really spans over the late July to early August period. I had the chance to go to several morning stalking sessions in the foothills of the Western Pyrenees mountains, did spot many does as well as one racoon dog (invasive specy, originating from Japan, now common to Central Europe after escaping from fur farms, but still much unseen in Southern France) that I could not shoot because of the distance, but bucks remained invisible. It was only in early August that I had the chance to spot one, it was dusk and drizzling and visibility was poor; the buck was feeding in tall grass at 170 meters from me and only his neck and head were visible from time to time. Its antlers looked to be well above the ears, which meant that it was an adult male, worth being harvested. As there was no possibility to get closer I decided to try a long shot; I sat with my elbows on my knees and rested the rifle fore-end on my tripod (nothing sophisticated, only three green glass-fibre sticks the kind of which you can buy in garden centres, held together with a rubber band). I shot and the buck vanished; I thought that I had missed and its only that when I reached the anschuss, that I saw it lying on the ground. I had been lucky enough to place well that neck shot and the buck had fallen on the spot, spine brocken.







The buck was light bodied and was sporting surprisingly thin and long antlers; I am not good at judging bucks and I will never know whether this one was an adult in a ‘bad year’ (for our non-European members, roe bucks can develop superb antlers on one year and much disappointing ones the following one, God only knows why) or an old reclining one. Anyhow, the trophy was not bad, the meat was tasty and the stalking had been excellent!



I did not have the chance for other morning stalking sessions following that one as I had to travel for business.

In late November I went isard hunting in the Central Pyrenees, on the border with the Principality of Andorre; it was the peak of the rutting season there. The weather was cold and fine; it had already snowed earlier in the month but the snow had since melted in that area. I hunted over two days the same side of a mountain range and an altitude of circa 2000 metres, starting from a hunting cabin and going south on the first day and north on the second one; I had permission for two adult males.







On day one, shortly after dusk, I shot a fine 08-old male standing a c. 170 metres, 30 to 40° above the place where I was. As it did not move after my first shot, I thought I had missed and had the opportunity to shoot again; then it moved swiftly and disappeared. I went to the location and found it; it had collapsed c. 10 metres from the place it was when I shot and had been hit my both shots in lungs and heart. This buck would have benefited from some more years of life in order to mature however that’s something you can only judge too late, when the animal is dead at your feet.





On the same day by midday, I missed an apparently nice adult male at 190 metres; I rushed for shooting, didn’t had a good shooting rest, and missed! The animal went unharmed and after an initial rush resumed feeding, now out of reach.

Mountain encounter; goat with her youngster at c. 150 metres:



On day 2, I could not find any buck worth being harvested until mid-morning when I spotted a really nice one standing on a rock above a flock of goats at c. 500 metres. I managed to get closer but could move further at some point because we were now on barren mountain ground; the target was at 320 metres, at almost the same altitude than me. I took my time, get a very good rest and shot; I was lucky as the buck fell on the spot, hit in the heart as I will discover it later. It was a good 13-year-old male, a CIC bronze in the lower end.



Then it was time to rush for skinning and packing both filets and hind legs as the weather was slowly getting bad. The hunting cabin was reached three hours later after taking a short cut on the ridge side, which proved to be a bad idea as the terrain was difficult to progress through because of steep ravines; it started snowing in the last hour, therefore I left the hunting cabin where I had planned to stay overnight. This proved to be a good idea as in the following morning, due to almost one meter of fresh snow, I would have been forced to leave my car there until the following Spring!





Isards skulls cleaned but not bleached and still unmounted.



Louis

--------------------
"Everything that doesn't kill me makes me stronger"


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Waidmannsheil
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Reged: 19/04/13
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Loc: Melbourne Australia
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Louis]
      #332835 - 30/09/19 08:38 PM

Superb Louis, lovely Roebuck trophy and some really nice Isard heads as well. Superb scenery especially in the mountains, lucky you got out in time. Nice to see the Kipplaufbuechse in action as well, a true gentleman's rifle. Well done.

Matt.

--------------------
There is nothing wrong with vegetarian food, so long as there is meat with it.


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Ripp
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Reged: 19/02/07
Posts: 11829
Loc: Montana, USA
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Waidmannsheil]
      #332842 - 30/09/19 10:52 PM

Great report and hunting..congrats..

I believe we were in Andorre as well when we hunting in Europe in 2016..On the border of France and Spain?

thx

Ripp

--------------------
ALL MEN DIE, BUT FEW MEN TRULY LIVE..

Edited by Ripp (30/09/19 10:55 PM)


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NitroXAdministrator
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Reged: 25/12/02
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Ripp]
      #332873 - 01/10/19 03:10 PM

Louis, thanks for posting. Really enjoyed reading your mountain hunting story and photos, and about your hunting year. And the use of a fine single shot rifle. I guess the KS projectiles work OK on these lighter bodied animals?

Another mountain hunting story. My heart pumps just thinking of it!

I would be challenged by even the drive back on narrow and rough mountain tracks covered by a light layer of snow. Slippery to someone who has driven on snow, maybe twice in his life. Good to see you got your vehicle out before the metre of snow and a winter's wait for it to get it out. YThe closest I have come to that is getting my Pajero 4WD stuck up to the frame in a public duck shooting reserve's mud. I had fears it would be there as well for a whole winter wallowing in water. But a local entrepreneurial farmer learned to drive the duck swamps tracks looking for stuck in the mud vehicles "but I would not be able to go and get my tractor for less than one hundred dollars" .... and yes it was paid quickly and easily.

More Isard/Chamois and Roe deer, wonderful. I have to get to Europe and finally score on a roe buck, a common trophy for Europeans, some having hundreds on the walls, none of my wall yet! A roe (female) only to date, for meat for the land owner.

Thanks again for the story.

--------------------
John aka NitroX

...
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"


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NitroXAdministrator
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: NitroX]
      #332874 - 01/10/19 03:14 PM

PS Good to read of your season. My own season/year has been dull. No trips away at all. Just the farm rabbits, hares and foxes, feral pigeons. Not even any wild ducks. I did not buy a permit, I think (?). I may harvest a spiker for the freezer though, as I promised some wild venison to some winemakers.

Hopefully next year will be more productive and getting further afield.

At the moment I am concentrating on re-improving my shotgunning skills.

--------------------
John aka NitroX

...
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"


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Louis
.333 member


Reged: 13/05/15
Posts: 406
Loc: France
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: NitroX]
      #332903 - 02/10/19 06:19 PM

Thank you Matt, Ripp and Nitrox.
Yes, KS bullets are extremely accurate and work apparently well on lighter bodied animals; however all my bullets always go through and I was never able to assess how they transform/mushroom upon impact.
Louis

--------------------
"Everything that doesn't kill me makes me stronger"


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NitroXAdministrator
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Reged: 25/12/02
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Louis]
      #332904 - 02/10/19 06:23 PM

Quote:

Thank you Matt, Ripp and Nitrox.
Yes, KS bullets are extremely accurate and work apparently well on lighter bodied animals; however all my bullets always go through and I was never able to assess how they transform/mushroom upon impact.
Louis




Thanks again Louis for posting your pics and story.

68 views and only three people commented! Guys, this is not facebook, with 5 second attention span views. Interaction is expected, to show some appreciation for the story and photo provider, who usually loves to get some feedback.

--------------------
John aka NitroX

...
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"


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Waidmannsheil
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Reged: 19/04/13
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: NitroX]
      #332906 - 02/10/19 07:08 PM

I have to agree. Louis made a significant effort with that report, lots of pictures and plenty of text, and 3 responses only is pretty piss poor. If somebody makes an effort to write a quality report like that, then it is only reasonable to expect a significant number of replies or else no one will bother and the forum will be poorer for it.

Matt.

--------------------
There is nothing wrong with vegetarian food, so long as there is meat with it.


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Ripp
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Reged: 19/02/07
Posts: 11829
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Waidmannsheil]
      #332913 - 03/10/19 02:17 AM

Quote:

I have to agree. Louis made a significant effort with that report, lots of pictures and plenty of text, and 3 responses only is pretty piss poor. If somebody makes an effort to write a quality report like that, then it is only reasonable to expect a significant number of replies or else no one will bother and the forum will be poorer for it.

Matt.




Agreed...
Great story, photos, etc...
Very well done

Ripp

--------------------
ALL MEN DIE, BUT FEW MEN TRULY LIVE..


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Daryl_S
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Ripp]
      #332918 - 03/10/19 02:44 AM

I was sure I had posted to this thread. Sorry don't see it.

Louis, what a great hunt!! Nice animals - I'll bet good eating as well.
The mountain pictures remind me of around here - well a bit North and of course East of here in "The Rockies" as well as West to the coastal range.



--------------------
Daryl


"a rifle without hammers, is like a Spaniel without ears" Edward VII


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93x64mm
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Reged: 07/12/11
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Ripp]
      #332923 - 03/10/19 06:12 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I have to agree. Louis made a significant effort with that report, lots of pictures and plenty of text, and 3 responses only is pretty piss poor. If somebody makes an effort to write a quality report like that, then it is only reasonable to expect a significant number of replies or else no one will bother and the forum will be poorer for it.

Matt.




Agreed...
Great story, photos, etc...
Very well done

Ripp




Couldn't have been better put by all!
Just out & about for work too much now-a-days - it happens when changing positions!
Well done Louis, lovely scenery & fond memories to boot!
Cheers
93x64mm


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NitroXAdministrator
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Reged: 25/12/02
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: 93x64mm]
      #332945 - 03/10/19 05:21 PM

Actually must have been grumpy, one reply in 20 to 30 views is not bad these days of "facebook likes". "Liking" something, the lazy way to "interact". Non-social media.

All the usual good guys replying on here.

BTW I would love to see more hunting posts and stories on NE. I'll have to go searching all most endless digital and transparency photos libraries. Completely un-organised! First must be Curl's visit to Oz.

Some guys must still be travelling on safari to Africa? Or are we all Africa-ed out at the moment?

I love these stories from Europe as well. Something different to what we have.

--------------------
John aka NitroX

...
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"


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264
.333 member


Reged: 15/02/11
Posts: 412
Loc: NT Australia
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: NitroX]
      #333008 - 04/10/19 11:35 PM

Great report trophies and pics. Cheers Mick

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Rolf
.333 member


Reged: 26/02/07
Posts: 364
Loc: Germany, Bavaria
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: 264]
      #333187 - 08/10/19 03:49 PM

Hello Louis,

thank you for the interesting hunting stories about roe buck and chamois ("Gams" as we call it in Bavaria).
Especially on the 170m shot in the neck of a roe buck I was not sure whether I had the courage and confidence (and skill) to try this, chapeau!

I do not want to spoil the thread, but...
If someone (Louis or the commenting community of this thread)is interested in a roe deer hunt May 2020 in Germany/Bavaria:
there are some tags left over...
:-)

best regards
Rolf


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NitroXAdministrator
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Reged: 25/12/02
Posts: 29402
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Rolf]
      #333195 - 08/10/19 04:59 PM

Quote:

Hello Louis,

thank you for the interesting hunting stories about roe buck and chamois ("Gams" as we call it in Bavaria).
Especially on the 170m shot in the neck of a roe buck I was not sure whether I had the courage and confidence (and skill) to try this, chapeau!

I do not want to spoil the thread, but...
If someone (Louis or the commenting community of this thread)is interested in a roe deer hunt May 2020 in Germany/Bavaria:
there are some tags left over...
:-)

best regards
Rolf




Rolf, you are such a generous member! I would email you or telephone you and say YES yesterday. I doubt I could do it, no funds for the airfare. Hopefully one of our good people here can 'help' you out on your wonderful offering. I would love to hunt roe deer with you and plan to do it one day without fail.

--------------------
John aka NitroX

...
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"


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9.3x57
.450 member


Reged: 22/04/07
Posts: 5068
Loc: Idaho
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: NitroX]
      #333199 - 08/10/19 11:02 PM

I don't pop in here nearly enough! This is a fantastic thread. Love the European contributions and Louis's neck of the woods is truly wonderful and mystical country. Like Daryl said, hints of some portions of the Rockies.

Super photos, Louis and a beautiful and useful rifle...just so especially for the skills of the man behind it! Fine shooting and thank you for packing us all along for the hike!

Roe deer are quite fascinating and I always have to remember the strange {to us elk and whitetail hunters!} rut season!

Thanks for posting a great and successful hunting season!

--------------------
What are the Rosary, the Cross or the Crucifix other than tools to help maintain the fortress of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?


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Louis
.333 member


Reged: 13/05/15
Posts: 406
Loc: France
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: 9.3x57]
      #333320 - 11/10/19 07:06 PM

All, thank you very much for your kind comments.
Rolf, the 170-metre neck shot was a bet, but I had no other option to harvest this one. By the way, there's nothing exceptional in this shot as our hunting rifles should all group shots in 5x5 cm at 200 metres. Assessing both firing distance and shooting angle are key elements to me, but this data is now provided by most modern range finders; a good rest is the other key element so I prefer not shooting if my rest is not good as I noticed that without a good rest I missed most of the time. Such long shots are not always the norm to me and this year I harvested 3 bucks at 80, 60 and 25 metres; situation commands!
Louis

--------------------
"Everything that doesn't kill me makes me stronger"


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HistoricBore
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Reged: 28/09/11
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Loc: southern England
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Louis]
      #333322 - 11/10/19 09:53 PM

Bonjour Louis

We were visiting our holiday home in the Ariege two weeks ago, and took a walk in the Orlu valley just above Ax-les-Thermes, on the main road to Andorra. This is a National Hunting reserve at an altitude of 1200 metres to begin with. We walked up to 1400 metres to a shepherd's summer hut and photographed several marmots. These are like big groundhogs and were hunted to extinction at the beginning of the 20th Century, but have now been reintroduced. I also spotted two Izard high up. Not sure when the hunting season starts there.

It used to be that the Andorran season started a week before the French season, and that the Andorrans were never very good at knowing where the boundary was. I'm sure that nothing like that happens these days...

Great "Mer de Nuage" photographs - a Pyrenean speciality. Greta Kipplauf, too.

HB


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tinker
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Reged: 12/03/05
Posts: 3964
Loc: Nevada
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: HistoricBore]
      #333329 - 12/10/19 02:49 AM

Congratulations Louis on a good season.
Thanks for sharing the details with us here, great photos!

Fine choice of the rifle too.

What is your method of stripping and cleaning the skulls of these bucks?

--------------------
--Self-Appointed Colonel, DRSS--



"It IS a dangerous game, and so named for a reason, and you can't play from the keyboard. " --Some Old Texan...


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Louis
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Reged: 13/05/15
Posts: 406
Loc: France
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: tinker]
      #333475 - 16/10/19 01:38 AM

Dear All, thank you again for your kind comments.

Historic Bore, thank you for reporting on your recent visit to Ariège. For your information, marmots (‘murmel’ for our German-speaking peers) are not endemic to the Pyrenees; some specimen coming from the Alps were introduced in the Pyrenees just after WW2 and have since then colonized all the range. As you mentioned it they were a small game prized by mountain people in the Alps, probably until between WW1 and WW2, not so much for their meat but for their fat that was subsequently used for cooking. Nowadays nobody hunts them in France (to my knowledge), but I think that they are still hunted in German and Austrian mountains.

Tinker, hereafter is the process I use for cleaning skulls, however this is only one out of many:
1. Leave the full head unskinned soak in a bucket of water for c. 24 hours in order to leave time for the blood to get out.
2. Skin the head, do not remove any flesh and leave the lower jaw attached to the skull.
3. Immerse the skull (not the horns/antlers) into a mixture of water and soda crystals and bring it to boil (15/20 mn for a small skull such as deer and 30/40 mn for a larger one such as elk); I personally use 500 grams of soda crystals for 10 litres of water. Antlers or horns are not damaged/altered by soda crystal, which is going to soften flesh and tendons and make bone cleaning easier.
4. Immerse into a bucket of cold water and subsequently remove the flesh, tendons that can be removed easily with a pocket knife; remove also the lower jaw.
5. Bring to boil again, same boiling time and same mixture (clean one but same ingredients), then deep into cold water and remove additional flesh and tendons. I usually start at this stage to ‘work’ the brain with a piece of wire that I have hooked at one end and remove as much as I can of it.
6. I usually boil 3 times the skulls, each phase making remaining parts of flesh, tendons, etc, softer and therefore easier to remove. The less easy parts to clean being the brain and nose cavities.
7. Then I wash the skull with a garden hose at full pressure, with emphasis into the two above mentioned cavities.
8. I subsequently leave the cleaned skull to dry, either in my barn or tied-up in a tree in the orchard for a couple of days. You may notice at this stage that some blood may still drip off horns (not off antlers); in that case soak again in water for some hours and clean the blood with a tooth-brush.
9. Next step will be to whiten the bones. Tightly wrap the skull (not the horns/antlers) in white cotton rags that should not come above the junction between bone & horns/antlers. Pour a litre of oxygenated water into a large container and leave the wrapped skull in the container; the oxygenated water will slowly be absorbed by the cotton rags and subsequently get in contact with all parts of the bone & teeth that will be whitened. Caution, oxygenated water should not be in contact with horns/antlers as they would also be whitened. After some time (one night to one full day), take the skull out, unwrap and hang out for drying.
Wear gloves when using soda crystal and oxygenated water as both may harm your skin.

The last things I subsequently do are:
10. Gluing with fast bonding glue (e.g. Loctite) teeth and small bones of the upper nose that might be loose following the repetitive boiling process.
11. Brushing horns/antlers with a tooth brush onto which I have poured some drops of vaseline.

In case you won’t have time to start the full process just after the hunt, put the head(s) into your freezer (no damage to horns/antlers) and start when you can. Similarly, if you don’t have time for completing the flesh removing/boiling process quickly, simply leave the head immersed into a bucket of water between two phases (but change the water daily).

Side advice last, do not use your wife’s freezer and kitchen for this process - unless you want to risk an argument, and most wives don’t like it!

I hope this will help.

Louis

--------------------
"Everything that doesn't kill me makes me stronger"


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tinker
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Louis]
      #333500 - 16/10/19 10:59 PM

Louis thanks for listing your process.

I'll copy and file your notes.



Cheers
Tinker

--------------------
--Self-Appointed Colonel, DRSS--



"It IS a dangerous game, and so named for a reason, and you can't play from the keyboard. " --Some Old Texan...


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9.3x57
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Reged: 22/04/07
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: tinker]
      #333502 - 17/10/19 02:14 AM

Louis:

Can you tell us some more about the land there? Who owns it? Must you obtain a permit or some other permission to access/hike thru/hunt on the land?

I've read many stories of Maquis and escaped prisoners/flyers hiking across the Pyrenees during WW2. Always wanted to visit that part of France/Spain.

Thanks for a very interesting post.

By the way, the method we use for our skulls is cruder, but works alright. We skin the head, boil off the meat and then soak the head in bleach water. A bit of the back of the horns often gets bleached a bit, but we use wood stain to cover it and it cannot really be seen when the head is on the wall anyway. Just another method. Yours look more professional, but for hillbillies like us, ours is "ok".

--------------------
What are the Rosary, the Cross or the Crucifix other than tools to help maintain the fortress of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God?


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Louis
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Reged: 13/05/15
Posts: 406
Loc: France
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: 9.3x57]
      #333529 - 17/10/19 08:35 PM

9,3x57

I thought that the term ‘hillbillies’ applied only to the Appalachians and to the Ozark and I am glad to see that ‘real people’ have now moved westwards into the Rockies; let’s hope that they will colonize California next!

Land in France either belongs to the State (administrated by the Forestry Commission or ‘Office National des Forêts’), or to local communities, or to private owners. In order to be allowed to hunt you need to come to an agreement with the land owner by either:
• renting land from private owners;
• or by becoming the member of a village hunting syndicate in order to be allowed to hunt the village’s land (possible in theory if you do not live permanently in the area but difficult in practice, mainly in remote or mountain areas, as our local hillbillies do not like sharing their game with outsiders);
• or by buying temporary hunting licences from the French Forestry Commission for hunting state-owned land or renting permanently from them large tracts of land.

In my own case, in order to give you a practical example of the above:
• I am the member of my village’s hunting syndicate: I shoot there fox and other vermin for training, as well as wood pigeon. I am also allowed to stalk for wild boar, but this doesn’t happen much in practice as in our area wild boars only get out at night because of hunting pressure, and night hunting is not allowed in France. For hunting wild boars during the day, hounds are essential to get the beasts out of cover, and I do not like participating to driven hunts. I cannot stalk for roe deer in my village’s area as the hunting syndicate retains all roe deer hunting rights for driven hunting, which is the usual form of hunting in most of France.
• I am also the member of another village’s hunting syndicate in my area, where roe deer stalking is permitted, and I buy annually buck tags from them.
• For mountain hunting, I use to hunt Government land; a Forestry Commission guard guides me (useful as he knows well the area) and I am charged on the value of the isard trophy(ies) I harvest (the bigger the trophy is the more I pay), based on their CIC rating. Depending on territories’ location, one can hunt all big game species (roe deer, red deer, sitka deer, fallow deer, mouflon, chamois & isard, and wild boar) with the Forestry Commission in France. Brown bear, wolf and ibex are – unfortunately, fully protected country-wide.

Hope that this will help you to get a clearer view of our local picture!

Louis

--------------------
"Everything that doesn't kill me makes me stronger"


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NitroXAdministrator
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Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Louis]
      #333530 - 17/10/19 09:28 PM

Hi Louis,

Thanks for answering Rod's question, and a good and expansive answer it was.

The next question be might ask and all the rest of us non-Frenchmen!

How do foreigners get to hunt in France?!

I assume one method is they are guests of someone with land or hunting rights. If the French friend owns land, rents land or rents hunting rights, or has personal hunting rights in a syndicate, I guess they can be a "guest" of that person?

I a foreign hunter has no wonderful friends in France like this, can hunting access be purchased by a foreigner? Similar to how you might purchase tags from the gov't or forestry authority and requiring a guide?

I assume French residents require a hunting or hunters licence? What is involved for a resident for this? Long and complicated with training and courses? Or a permit which is purchased? Or something in between? what about foreigners?

I', asking just out of interest. I do hope to hunt oneday in France with a friend there, if he remembers he asked me! Twice! I personally find it interesting to join in locals and experience how they hunt and their traditions and experiences. It isn't about a huge set of antlers or tusks or horns. They can be nice on the wall afterwards, but joining in the difference hunting cultures a great experience as well.

--------------------
John aka NitroX

...
"I love the smell of cordite in the morning."
"A Sharp spear needs no polish"


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Ripp
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Reged: 19/02/07
Posts: 11829
Loc: Montana, USA
Re: My 2018-2019 hunting season [Re: Louis]
      #333586 - 18/10/19 03:53 PM

Quote:

Dear All, thank you again for your kind comments.

Historic Bore, thank you for reporting on your recent visit to Ariège. For your information, marmots (‘murmel’ for our German-speaking peers) are not endemic to the Pyrenees; some specimen coming from the Alps were introduced in the Pyrenees just after WW2 and have since then colonized all the range. As you mentioned it they were a small game prized by mountain people in the Alps, probably until between WW1 and WW2, not so much for their meat but for their fat that was subsequently used for cooking. Nowadays nobody hunts them in France (to my knowledge), but I think that they are still hunted in German and Austrian mountains.

Tinker, hereafter is the process I use for cleaning skulls, however this is only one out of many:
1. Leave the full head unskinned soak in a bucket of water for c. 24 hours in order to leave time for the blood to get out.
2. Skin the head, do not remove any flesh and leave the lower jaw attached to the skull.
3. Immerse the skull (not the horns/antlers) into a mixture of water and soda crystals and bring it to boil (15/20 mn for a small skull such as deer and 30/40 mn for a larger one such as elk); I personally use 500 grams of soda crystals for 10 litres of water. Antlers or horns are not damaged/altered by soda crystal, which is going to soften flesh and tendons and make bone cleaning easier.
4. Immerse into a bucket of cold water and subsequently remove the flesh, tendons that can be removed easily with a pocket knife; remove also the lower jaw.
5. Bring to boil again, same boiling time and same mixture (clean one but same ingredients), then deep into cold water and remove additional flesh and tendons. I usually start at this stage to ‘work’ the brain with a piece of wire that I have hooked at one end and remove as much as I can of it.
6. I usually boil 3 times the skulls, each phase making remaining parts of flesh, tendons, etc, softer and therefore easier to remove. The less easy parts to clean being the brain and nose cavities.
7. Then I wash the skull with a garden hose at full pressure, with emphasis into the two above mentioned cavities.
8. I subsequently leave the cleaned skull to dry, either in my barn or tied-up in a tree in the orchard for a couple of days. You may notice at this stage that some blood may still drip off horns (not off antlers); in that case soak again in water for some hours and clean the blood with a tooth-brush.
9. Next step will be to whiten the bones. Tightly wrap the skull (not the horns/antlers) in white cotton rags that should not come above the junction between bone & horns/antlers. Pour a litre of oxygenated water into a large container and leave the wrapped skull in the container; the oxygenated water will slowly be absorbed by the cotton rags and subsequently get in contact with all parts of the bone & teeth that will be whitened. Caution, oxygenated water should not be in contact with horns/antlers as they would also be whitened. After some time (one night to one full day), take the skull out, unwrap and hang out for drying.
Wear gloves when using soda crystal and oxygenated water as both may harm your skin.

The last things I subsequently do are:
10. Gluing with fast bonding glue (e.g. Loctite) teeth and small bones of the upper nose that might be loose following the repetitive boiling process.
11. Brushing horns/antlers with a tooth brush onto which I have poured some drops of vaseline.

In case you won’t have time to start the full process just after the hunt, put the head(s) into your freezer (no damage to horns/antlers) and start when you can. Similarly, if you don’t have time for completing the flesh removing/boiling process quickly, simply leave the head immersed into a bucket of water between two phases (but change the water daily).

Side advice last, do not use your wife’s freezer and kitchen for this process - unless you want to risk an argument, and most wives don’t like it!

I hope this will help.

Louis




Thank you for posting this Louis..

I have never bleached a skull.. always have a buddy do it for me..

Good info to have

Ripp

--------------------
ALL MEN DIE, BUT FEW MEN TRULY LIVE..


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