‘Hunting with hounds is more popular than ever’ – why the chase is flourishing in France – Telegraph.co.uk

The hunters gathered in a muddy forest clearing, bracing themselves against the morning chill with sips of ‘ratafia’ — grape juice fortified with brandy —  as their dogs barked excitedly around them.

Stag and deer hunting with hounds is flourishing in France, where the tradition faces little challenge from politicians or animal-rights activists.

As the two dozen hunters donned caps and ‘colours’, navy coats with red and gold trim, the master of hounds, Pierre-François Prioux, briefed them on sightings of the prey: roe-deer.

Almost all the members of the ‘Rallye Tempête’, or ‘Storm Rally’ hunt, who gathered near the village of Chatenoy in the Forêt d’Orléans, France’s largest national forest, rode thoroughbreds — former racehorses.

“Hunting with hounds is more popular than ever,” said Pierre de Boisguilbert, secretary-general of the French Society for Hunting with Hounds.

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