Bang! Bang!

Fall has…well, fallen. The trees are turning all sorts of colors, and it’s mushroom hunting season. The last of the chestnuts are on the ground. The high winds of the past week ensured that. After months of brown fields, they have returned to emerald green and the landscape looks like Ireland, yet again. And another annual tradition here in rural Spain has commenced. Hunting season.

We lived in rural Washington state for a decade. In the mountains east of Seattle. I wore heels to work in the city, and wellies at home. We had a resident elk herd of about 500 head next to our kid’s school, but we never saw or heard hunters. The only gunshots we ever heard in all those years were when a crazy guy created a survivalist bunker not far from our home in the woods. Then had to be forcibly removed from it by the ATF and state police after going on a murderous rampage. A survivalist bunker sounded extreme back then, as we were instructed by federal law enforcement via loud speaker flying over our house in a helicopter to ‘Stay in your home, lock the door, draw the curtains and keep away from windows.’ We all sat on our bed with our kids and Emilie’s sleepover friend that Saturday, trying to keep everyone calm. Our house was on the local news live as we sat and watched it from the cameras on news helicopters flying over. And on the national news that night with the blanket press coverage of such an unusual event. And now? In the US in 2022 a survivalist bunker and a murderous psycho armed to the teeth wouldn’t rate in the top 20 news stories.

On The Hunt

First, let me say that I do not like guns. I was raised in a house filled to the gills with them. My Dad was almost always armed, even up until right before he died. (🙄 Don’t even get me started) As children, we were instructed to assume every gun in our house was loaded, because they were. ‘No sense in having a gun if it’s not ready to shoot.’ Was my father’s horrific parenting philosophy. Needless to say, I have never had a gun in my own home. And I never will. Jeff, a US veteran, is even more vehemently opposed to firearms than I am.

Having said that, I have fired guns growing up. I have been hunting (although never shot anything) and am not against legal hunting, as such. If it is to put food on your table. If you kill it you should eat it. Personally, I wouldn’t eat it, being more of a pescatarian. But to each his own. There are certain populations of animals that are out of control here in Galicia because the top predator populations were decimated over the centuries. And hunting provides food for the people, and thins the herd. I am speaking now of wild boar hunting. It is part of the culture of Galicia.

A Little Too Close To Home

Yesterday, we were awakened by gunshots very close by. I know this because I rolled over and said to Jeff ‘That’s pretty close.’ And when I said ‘close’ I meant on our land not far from our barn. We got dressed and went outside. Dogs were barking with their floppy ears flying, then with their noses to the ground. Clearly, on the scent of their quarry. Hunters were following them kitted out in their gear.

When we moved into our house we told the owners we were planning to fence the land. They informed us we needed to put in a gate. So hunters could cross our property. ‘Its not a law. But if you want to be a good neighbor you will do it.’

I stood and watched one hunter shoot at something. He missed, I guess. The dogs took off after it. He followed, then hopped over the fence and out on to the Camino filled with a group of very surprised Pilgrims. Men with guns and the Camino don’t often seem to go together. Unless you walk in the autumn. His dogs took off into the field with the horses. He followed over the fence. The horses were not pleased.

We see men with trailers filled with hunting dogs, with dead boars strapped to the top. It’s not my lifestyle, but is part of the culture dating back centuries. Who are we to judge? But I would advise Pilgrims to keep their eyes peeled and their ears perked for hunters and their dogs when walking this time of year anywhere in rural Spain. Just one more reason to wear the brightest clothing walking on the trail – rainy day or no. It wouldn’t do you any favors to looked like a bulky wild boar through the trees these days in rural Galicia.

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