Boar-hunting on the quiet

Quake and quiver, countryfolk, for Sicilian gentlemen will shortly be beating Berkshire’s bushy byways for the Great British Truffle Harvest of 2004; the principal threats to Catalonia’s black diamonds, on the other hand, are Alzheimer’s–forests seem very big when you’re with an 85-year old who can’t remember where the buggers are–and wild boar.

Wild boar are the nemesis of root and truffle systems, so in certain districts considerable effort is put into killing them even before the official hunting season begins in October. Guns and/or dogs attract the attention of hostile neighbours–Norwegians in big, ugly eco-houses, or fellow farmers jealous of one’s water rights–so one solution is for young men to get up at four in the morning and go after the buggers with lassoes and knives.

There’s a mention of an accidental kill of this type in Baroja’s Zalacaín el aventurero (1909; buy in the USA/UK), which deals with smuggling in the western Pyrenees during the last Carlist war:

One winter an exploit of [the teenaged] Martín [Zalacaín] got the whole village talking. The snow had left the road impassable and the coaches couldn’t get through. Zalacaín went to France and returned on foot, over the Navarre side, with a Larrau man. Coming through the woods at Iraty the two were attacked by a few wild boar. Neither of the men was armed, but they clubbed to death three of those ferocious beast, Zalacaín killing two and the man from Larrau one.

Tellagorri notes medieval family precedent for the bravery of his protégé and in his enthusiasm drinks himself to pleurisy and death.

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Last updated 24/09/2004

This post pre-dates my organ-grinding days, and may be imported from elsewhere.

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