There are quite a few deer around at the moment. I took this picture yesterday morning, just before we took the dog for a walk. There were five stopping off for a bite to eat in the field.
Yesterday, on my way to the shops, I had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting three that ran out in front of the car and this morning I was walking the dog in the bottom field and he suddenly caught sight of something in the distance. Before I could say "Gremlin come here you little sh*t" he had gone. In a flash he had crossed over the stream, through the field the other side and up into the woods. I saw his tail bobbing up and down a bit and then he disappeared from view. He has done this before but normally once the deer have run off he comes back. This time I was calling for 20 minutes, unable to cross the stream myself. Ian left his work to come and look for him the other side of the river. After about half an hour we caught sight of him following a scent home. He approached Ian, turned to look at him as if to say 'it's this way' and then carried on, appearing by my side 5 minutes later, exited, wet but rather tired. By this time Ian and I were soaked and not it in the best of moods. It was good to see that he came back eventually but worrying as once he catches sight of a deer no amount of recall training will break his focus and he can cover some distance in a matter of seconds!
Last night we ate venison casserole. The venison was a gift from the local hunt as we allow them to hunt on the land. It's arrival was not for the squeamish. The chairman of the hunt knocked on the door, plastic bag dripping in blood with a deer foot sticking out the top in one hand, and a fag in the other! Ian cut it up and we kept some and gave some away. Normally we have been given a front leg, but this year we got a hind leg. The meat was beautifully tender.
Before I came to France I was determined to stop hunting on the land as soon as possible, but after living here a while you see that there is a balance here that is perhaps best to accept. The deer have no natural predators and left alone the numbers would soon rise and they would become a pest, eating many of the crops. The hunt are allowed to kill a certain number each year. It is quite carefully controlled. (I say quite carefully because there are always one or two that will poach the odd one or two). Furthermore, as the hunting population is generally fairly elderly hunting day looks like an Age Concern outing with rifles, so I am not even sure whether they manage to get their targets every year. So, if we ever get llamas and horses on the land we will have to restrict it, but while it is prairie we don't rock the boat.