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Dream hunt: wild boar hunting in France with David Gauthier

Frenchman David Gauthier first started shooting as a teenager, and ran a small hunt in France for 15 years, shooting boar, roe deer, and small game: pheasant, partridge, duck and hare. Early January, he accepted an invitation to a village boar shoot by a friend who was ‘mad about boar shooting’. The village of Reilly, is situated in the south of the Picardie region, about an hour from Paris. The village wild boar hunt takes place over 200 acres, the first drive was through a small forest of 70 acres, the undergrowth is dense with brambles, and in some sections trees have been felled, it’s ideal boar territory. The guns are spaced out around the forest every 45–70 metres. David hunts with a Verney Carron Express rifle, 8x57 JRS with no optics, and Norma ammunition.

"It’s all about the team work on the hunt, and you couldn’t shoot boar without dogs, beaters and guns all working together.  Within 10 mins of starting the first drive, the dogs started barking, then I heard a blow (on a horn) for boar. If a running boar gets too close you need to be ready to move quickly," David continued "When a boar stands up, it decides where it is going and they’re very unpredictable!"

Hunters with dogs
Hunters with dogs.

"I was keeping out of sight behind a thick bush when I heard the pack of dogs running after a boar, it kept running around looking for an opportunity to get back into the dense forest cover but the dogs kept pushing it on. I couldn’t see it but I heard the movement as it ran close to me. I didn’t get the opportunity to shoot, maybe the boar saw me, but guns on the other pegs did. 

Wild boar in undergrowth 
A wild boar in the undergrowth.

The drive lasted for an hour and a half, we flushed 25 – 30 boar, and as the end of the drive was announced, we saw another group of 20 boar appear. We had 7 boar and 2 deer, and that was enough for us so we did not go out for another drive. It’s a village shoot, we do not sell the meat so numbers are not important and we only shoot what we need and can manage to butcher. Each hunter went home with half an animal each, that’s a lot of freezer space! But it also leaves enough wild boar behind in the woodland for more hunting days."

Firearms

Rifles are generally recommended over shotguns. David said, "very few hunters in France talk about the bullet head; because most of the driven boar shooting will be within 50 metres, and at that distance the bullet head is not very important. Rifle wise, the most common calibres you will find in France 9.3x74R, 8x57JRS, 300win, 300 win mag, 7x64, 30.06."

Pre-hunt advice

Practise shooting moving targets, and learn the shot placements. Some hunters say they benefit from shooting crossing clay targets. Experienced hunters carry hunting knives used to despatch injured boar.

Wild boar village hunt bag 
The spoils of the wild boar village hunt.
Wild boar roe deer, their last meal 
Wild boar and roe deer are all respectfully given their last meal:  a European hunting tradition of offering an evergreen sprig to honor an animal that has been ethically harvested.

Our Hunter and his personal dream hunt

David Gauthier, moved to the UK in 2011, and is the UK manager for French shooting clothing manufacturer, Percussion. His dream hunt would be to shoot grouse on a walked-up day and work his dog, a Korthals Griffon, David said, "I’ve never shot or tasted grouse, a driven day doesn’t appeal but I’d love a walked-up day to work my dog and shoot."


Who is our author Linda Mellor?

Linda Mellor is one of Scotland’s foremost shooting, fishing and hunting female writers and photographers. She is the product Ambassador for Venator Pro, a premier hunting company and stockist of the European brand Hillman. With a lifetime of countryside experience, Linda’s passion, enthusiasm and respect for the outdoors and hunting is explored and shared across her writing and photography. 

For more information on Linda Mellor, please visit Linda Mellor's website, Twitter (LindaMellor) and instagram (linda_mellor).

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