A 20-year-old student became the latest victim of French hunters after he was shot in the chest on a forest walk near Grenoble southern France at the weekend. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The shocked hunter, a 61-year-old man, mistook the student for a deer.
“The young man was dressed in brown and the hunter said he mistook him for a deer,” prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat told Le Figaro.
The hunter was taken in by police for questioning as authorities launched a manslaughter probe.
The shooting has already gone down as yet another accident that may have been avoided if France had stricter hunting laws.
Indeed, the young man's death can be added to a list of accidents this season that began on the first day of the hunting season in September. Last year's hunting season claimed the lives of 16 people, many of whom were hunters too.
Even though the hiker was killed on Saturday, the incident has been used as ammunition by anti-hunting group Aspas, which is actively pushing for a ban on hunting on Sundays.
The organisation claims that hikers and all those others who want to enjoy the French countryside would be more likely to do so on Sunday if they knew it was safe to take to the footpaths.
“There are simply too many deaths, too many accidents,” Marc Giraud, the Vice President of Aspas (Association for the Protection of Wild Animals) told The Local.
Giraud said that Aspas has collected 300,000 signatures so far from people who are calling for a ban on Sunday hunting in France.
“Sundays are the day that most people prefer to go hunting, and also the day that most families decide to go for a walk in the countryside,” he said.
“A ban on Sundays isn't the solution, but it's a good beginning. And France is very behind on this.”
Indeed, France is the only European country that allows hunting on every single day, he noted.
“All other countries in Europe have at least one day where hunting is banned, and some have up to three. Only in France can you hunt every single day of the year,” he said.
The reason that hunting remains such a firm fixture on French weekends, he said, was that it had powerful backers.
“There is a lot of money in hunting, a lot of political power behind it, and a lot of violent people likely to protest any changes,” he said.
Avid walkers are known to wear high-visibility clothes while out in the French countryside, while others report to feeling scared.
Facebook follower Trinidad Shaw says the situation has become “very nerve wracking”.
“I can't enjoy a walk with my dog,” she said. “[Hunters] are all over the place at the weekend, especially on Sundays.”
Hunting is extremely popular in France, attracting around 1.25 million enthusiasts.
Aspas, meanwhile, is campaigning for more safety measures to be introduced, including medical checks on hunters, noting that many are elderly and perhaps unable to spot the difference between an animal and a human from a distance.
The group is also demanding a change in the law whereby the organizers of hunts can be held responsible in the case of serious accidents.
This year's hunting season closes at the end of February.