If You Go Down to The Woods Today

Well in a word don’t. The hunting season has started in earnest today after many weekends without activity. By 6 a.m. the air was alive with blasts as the hunters went in search of their prey. Hey it’s Sunday and to embarrass my  children I’m going to play it.

They shoot tordi (thrush) here , is there a plural for thrush (?) I wonder. Now I better quickly nail my colours to the nearest mast regarding hunting . But like the vicar of Bray I actually don’t really have a colour to nail. I can see why people hunt and understand the pleasure they get from it but it isn’t something I do. I did it a few times many years ago in the UK. I went shooting wood pigeon  and found myself cold and wet on a late november  afternoon sitting in a hide blasting away and couldn’t really get enthused about the whole experience. I was also useless at the coup de grace that you need to  give wounded ones. I remember seeing a picture of the Queen dispatching a pheasant with ease a few years ago but I was a wuzz at the whole thing and received a long lecture about what a stoat was going to do to the ones I let go thinking I had done them a favour.

Unlike Cyprus where the cypriots spent more time accidentally shooting each other ( at least they claimed it was accidental but some of those family feuds had gone on there for ages). The Italians do take it seriously and certainly dress the part and have a better awareness of the proximity of others . They cannot shoot within 500 metres of a residential building so again unlike Cyprus the house isn’t peppered with shot every now and again. The real shame is that they don’t shoot vermin like magpies that reek havoc with seeds and stuff you plant as well as nicking the odd kitten apparently. They only hunt for food though having sat down at various tables to eat the tordi ( don’t you find calling it something else makes it easier to eat) you wouldn’t go far in feeding a family on them. Two mouthfuls and that is that.

Like most birds, the numbers have dwindled over the last few years and tordi like swallows are not traveling in their old numbers. All kind of theories are given with dear old global warming at the top of the list. However the huge increase in the netting of birds in Africa seems a more likely cause.

From a anti hunting  point of view of course the recession has done more to halt the hunting than any lobbyist group has ever achieved.  It is not a cheap sport. You firstly need the gear. Combat trousers, shirts, jackets etc and in winter some very thick thermals ‘cos these guys are up very early. Then you need a gun. A single barrel 12 bore here sets you back about €3,000 and every time you fire a cartridge you say goodbye to €0.25.You have to feed your gun dog who here doesn’t go get the bird but performs the task of beaters in the UK and you have to drive to and from the shooting area preferably with a 4×4 as well as have the mates around for lunch every few weekends.

Today the hunter at out table this lunchtime had been up at 4.30 a.m. and driven to Pulsano on the west coast to get a jump on the arrivals from Africa flying up on the S.W. wind that is blowing . He returned with the total bag for the morning at 1.45 p.m. which was a single tordo. So the anti shooting lobby probably needs to really turn it’s attention to the netting of the birds in Cyprus and in France which has far more devastating effect on the bird population. Like so may things in Italy which sound awful to many expats, hunting is more a social event with the shooting of anything greeted with a great deal of surprise by the participants.  They are like the true travellers in the world who value the journey more than the destination.

All through this post I have been trying to think of how I link the hunting to a saying I saw yesterday which I really liked . “Sometimes you are the windshield and sometimes you are the bug” or in English windscreen and insect. Yes two nations divided by one language. Those of you that haven’t enjoyed a rather liquid lunch like me will be able to do it easily but for the life of me I can’t.  But I did find that Dire Straits had recorded a song about it.


About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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One Response to If You Go Down to The Woods Today

  1. Jaynie says:

    Plurality, yes you can have thrushes, before the hunters take them! Indeed a mutation of thrushes.
    However… I am totally anti-hunting. I hate it when they DARE to come on my land and my neighbour (Italian) is investigating how we can have the official divieto cacciare signs. But it seems early to start shooting – I thought it was more in line with the Glorious Twelfth of the UK… Are they being illegal round your way??

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