When we first arrived in Montpezat de Quercy some 12 years ago, we were visited by the local hunt who sought our permission to run their dogs across our land. We had no issues with this but, as we keep a number of animals, we requested that someone telephone us when a hunt was planned so we could keep them inside until the dogs had passed. It is to their credit, that the hunt has steadfastly kept to this arrangement over the years which has prevented any incidents taking place plus we are given half a deer every year for our freezer in return for our acquiescence.
Since that initial visit, even though we have since become great friends with the Vice-President of the Hunt (the chap who does all the work) and his family, when he first enquired whether we wanted tickets for the Hunt Supper, we declined for two reasons:
- We originally assumed that the supper was just for active members of ‘La Chasse’ and we were being invited along as guests. We don’t hunt and have no interest in hunting ourselves but are not against it as rural France is overrun with deer and wild boar and their numbers have to be kept in check for reasons of disease and to limit the damage they can do to farmers’ crops. With an annual cull of around 65 deer and 40 wild boar, the hunt in our Commune helps nature to balance numbers in the countryside.
- I have nightmares recalling the black-tie Hunt Balls in the U.K. that I was forced to go to at the age of 14 onwards. Being in my element chasing balls of varying shapes and sizes and avoiding as much academic work as possible at an all boy public school, dancing just wasn’t something that one came across that much. Given my size, selling a dummy or swerving to avoid contact were normally ditched in favour of just going over, or preferably through, tacklers which may give the reader an idea of my dancing skills. So, lack of dancing ability and chronic shyness with girls of my own age led to a number of miserable evenings in my youth.
However, the following year, having learnt that the Montpezat de Quercy Hunt Supper was neither limited to members of ‘La Chasse’ or anything remotely akin to the Hunt Balls of my youth, we bought tickets and we haven’t looked back since.
Before and after shots.
At the end of February, we join 280-300 village folk dressed up warmly to enjoy 4 spit-roasted wild boar and masses to eat and drink with friends sitting at long trestle tables. Supper is served by members of the Hunt in a large village hall that doubles up as the basketball court and great bands provide musical entertainment all evening. Happily, I can now sit out and just watch the dancing which consists of the pasodoble, cha-cha-cha and, of course, the Madison – the line dancing favourite without which no evening in our village would be complete. And then there is the raffle which we did win on one occasion returning home with a huge joint of wild boar for the freezer. In past years, a live pig or a nanny goat have been the star prizes and, in both cases were won by punters who lived in one-bedroomed flats so were sold off on the night to those who had sufficient space to accommodate the animals. This year the star prize was 6 fat ducks already plucked and ready to be put into the oven.
All-in-all, it is a marvellous social event that takes place in February each year, where we, as two of a tiny handful of foreigners feel at ease and fully integrated into village life here in the heart of South-West France.