BOAR-HUNTING IN FRANCE. Very early in the morning of the day when the hunt is to take place, says Col. Thornton, the huntsman, accompanied by some of the guards (you would term them rangers) of the forest, who are generally well acquainted with the haunts of the prey, proceed to such, invariably prowlings, is their object. Hitting upon this, they take observation of the wood (or cover) into which the foot-marks evidently point, especially noting if the boar has gone through. Supposing him to have harboured, they tie a string to the bound's collar, and put him upon the scent, until his great eagerness convinces the huntsman that he is sure in his pricking. A station is then set up, and the huntsman makes a retour to the original rendezvous, which he reaches, in almost all cases, before or by the time the compagme, or a VAnglais, the field, arrives, in order to give goodly note of preparation, and to put in order the onset of the day. All this, perhaps, is too mechanical when compared with a maddening fox-chase ; but, still, a boar-hunt in France, taken altogether, is a noble amusement.
We lost no time in getting to the foot-mark, when two hounds, that could be depended on, were put to the scent, whilst a relay of five couple were sent to a certain quarter of the wood, to be put on when the game should break. The pack altogether consisted of about ten or twelve couple. The stanch hounds first loosed having convinced us that we were still right, the remaining part of the pack stationed with us were let go, and in five minutes came up to the spot upon which the boar lay couchant. At this moment the horsemen galloped off to post themselves at the different passes, or meuses, through which it was probable that the animal would make his rush to shake off the pursuers. I chanced to select a post of honour. I had not been stationed five minutes ere I heard the " vollied music of. the hounds," and, in the next moment, beheld the " tuskarmed monster cleave his desperate way." I fired, but missed. The animal before this was going not at fastest speed, but on hearing the report of my musket, he rushed on amazingly fast, I now set to work with whip and spur to gain the next pass, but in vain; the pursued had won it before me,—and another, and another, and so onwards for more than three quarters of an hour, at more than three parts speed. At length I got ahead of him, but he heard me, and turned his course. At this moment a roebuck passed before the dogs, and they took upon it, and it was with great exertions alone that we got them back upon the original scent, which, by this time, was very considerably ahead. He had, however, slackened his pace, for, by degrees, we managed to work up to him. The field was divided, and I heard shots at intervals; two close to me. I rode up to the hunter who had fired; he informed me the boar had passed apparently much wounded, and the animal fell, but managed to rise, clear a ditch, and again ensconce himself in the forest. The dogs at this moment gave tongue violently, and we felt convinced the boar must be at bay. I waited whilst my fellow-sportsmen reloaded, and then securing our horses to a tree, and, guided by the angry cry of the bounds, we soon came upon the object of our pursuit. He was resting on his haunches, surrounded by the pack, and he every now and then made a rush at them. When within a few paces, we fired both our barrels, and he fell, completely dead, amongst the dogs. Shortly
afterwards the greater number of the party came up, and we were installed the victors of the day.
The boar was now placed behind the huntsman, and carried to Amboise, distant from Tours fifteen miles, where we had the gratification of finding a good dinner prepared for us.
I repeat, that when the boarbreaks cover resolutely, and takes the fine plains gallantly, the sight is really beautiful; and you must be well mounted, too, to come up with the chase ere wounds have spoiled his speed.
The forest of Amboise is the property of the Duke of Orleans, and contains about eleven thousand acres.
Harewood, Harry. A Dictionary of Sports. London: T. Tegg and son, 1835.
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