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A little experience of Spanish hunting culture


A paw on a trailer for of recently hunter wild boar in Alt Maestrat, Spain
Dead Boar Paw on trailer, Alt Maestrat

This is not going to be a humorous blog on hunting.  I just want to show some photos of murdered animals that distressed me, even though hunting is a fact of life in the mountains and I do accept that.  

Take into account that these images are of wild boar, a hefty species getting out of control all over Europe.  Down on the coast they often roam the streets at night searching for food.  So it is no surprise that the big green rubbish bins seem to be their main target.  They also cause considerable mayhem on country roads, running across in the dark causing serious accidents, often fatal.  

Recent death of a wild boar, still warm

Many years ago my husband hit a pregnant sow late at night in rural France. He still talks about it, starting with the traumatic impact when the animal crashed head-on into his rental car. The police came, then the fire brigade and all the while a long queue of cars built up behind him on the dark narrow road.  A  hippy descended from one of the cars  and tingled bells around the dying sow, a blessing for her further voyage to the above and beyond. Then, as if this was not bizarre enough, a farmer emerged from the gloom with a cutting knife and began to carve the poor animal up. Apart from hubbie and the hippy, all the other drivers received their portions quite happily. In the meantime hubbie had not taken out insurance for this kind of accident…

On my land in Spain wild boar are frequent visitors, but I never see them as they only come out at night.  If it were not for the clues they leave behind I would be none the wiser.  From time to time Felix points out their deep footprints and the soil disturbed around the trees.  Jabalí, he proclaims!  Then he shows the bark damage, often quite severe, caused by their habit of ’“tusking” – marking out their territories.  Why can’t they just urinate like dogs do on lampposts? In these parts young trees need protection around them or else!

Dead boar, below the unrewarded hunting dogs caged

So why was I distressed?  Very simple.  I had never seen dead hunted animals before, let along like this. The hunters left them piled up in trailers at the side of the street to bleed. The dogs that had helped catch such a considerable bounty were left caged underneath the carnage. Not a bone for them, but meanwhile the hunters went inside a restaurant to celebrate. It was a prolonged alcohol fuelled breakfast of much gaiety.  I know – I was eating there too and we all exchanged toasts and pleasantries.  

Blood streamed down the trailers – and that was just two of the wild boar

I did not know about the boar until I left and saw the massacre, the blood, the carelessness.  It is hard to put this in words.  It was somehow very brutal and unfeeling. I regretted my friendliness towards the hunters, I was ashamed that I had tried, in some way, to be one of them.  Most of all I felt sorrow at the undignified display in front of me. 

For all their drinking, the hunters seemed extremely sober

The hunters killed the wild boar who did not kill the hunters, but God knows how these men navigated their journeys home intact afterwards.  I guess they were looking forward to carving the spoils as the French farmer had, and it kept them just about sober.  The sharpened knives would have worked easier with the loss of blood that streamed steadily down the mountain street into the snowy landscape below as they celebrated their murderous success.  

I told you this was not going to be funny.  And I hope I do not get into trouble with the locals, but some things just have to be said.

Hunting life in the mountains, El Maestrat, Spain


  1. J. Kristin Bryson
    August 10, 2020

    I just learned about your blog and saw this post. Having recently moved to Spain from Canada I am absolutely horrified. Hunting for food is one thing. To enjoy and indeed be proud of having caused death is another. At least as abhorrent is the treatment of the dogs. I hope this isn’t something that goes on in El Maestrat. I would be very challenged to share any space with men like those you encountered.

    • stephanie de leng
      August 10, 2020

      I’m afraid it is for many still. It is very much engrained in the Spanish and French cultures. I’ve experienced both first hand and it’s not funny when it happens on your own land. As you will have read I was horrified too when I found out I shared laughs with these men, not knowing what they had done. But I also do understand that it is not my culture. On the plus side this is changing more with the younger generations and increasing awareness.

  2. Anonymous
    December 1, 2019

    very moving

  3. james
    December 1, 2019

    great blogs!

    • stephanie de leng
      March 5, 2020

      Thank you James. Just keep on reading

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