The first incident of France’s 2019/2020 hunting season has fortunately not claimed any lives, but it has immediately highlighted the ease with which civilians seem to get caught in the hunters’ crossfire.
A man driving through a forest near the commune of Senonches in north central France was on his way back home to Paris on September 22nd when he came across a group of hunters with their dogs on a dirt road.
“When I drove up closer, only one hunter was left behind,” he told Actu.fr.
“I drove past him, he was to the left of me, then all of a sudden I heard a bang and shots hitting the trunk.
Alarmed by the possibility that the shooting was intentional, the man went directly to Senonches police station to file a complaint.
When the gendarmes started assessing the evidence, they counted a total of 99 lead pellets stuck in the car’s bodywork.
The shooter was soon located and placed under police custody, identified as the president of a local hunting association in the départment of Eure-et-Loir.
“He acknowledged the facts but claims he was targeting a hare coming out of a hole and that he didn’t see the car,” Chartres prosecutor Rémi Coutin told Actu.fr.
Hunting is more popular in France than anywhere else in Europe, with over one million people (not all of them licensed) taking part in a controversial pastime that makes headlines every year, namely for the number of rural residents who get injured or killed as a result.
Among the casualties of 2017’s hunting season in France were a 13-year-old boy who was shot dead by his own grandfather, a Frenchwoman who was killed in her garden after a hunter fired a shot through her hedge and a hunter who was shot dead during a wild boar hunt.
Some accidents are bizarre and completely random, such as the death of a driver killed by a bullet that rebounded off a boar, but many simply involve hunters shooting at people they have mistaken for game.