Banned in much of Europe, roe-deer hunting on horseback with hounds is enjoying something of a renaissance in France, where there are almost 200 hunts a year. Ivor Bennett reports.
Some cynics might say the French are naturals at blowing their own trumpet. It may not sound like it, but when it comes to roe-deer hunting, few can compete. The practice is banned in much of Europe. But the French are howling for more. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FOUNDER OF "HORSE-RIDING WITH PRINCES", MAITE BOYER, SAYING: "I invited friends who knew nothing about hunting to come along and they liked these hunts so much that I made it my job and from that came the idea to create a company: 'Horse-Riding With Princes'." If the hounds are the royalty, they are not short of servants. Hunting numbers have doubled in the past 40 years to around 10,000. And that's just those on horseback. These kind of hunts attract as many as 150,000 spectators nationwide, who follow in carriages behind. But even in France, a country known for its full-blooded cuisine, there are still paler faced protesters. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD OF FRANCE'S HUNTING WITH HOUNDS ASSOCIATION, PIERRE DE BOISGUILBERT, SAYING: "There are opponents; there is a public sensitivity in France today, fuelled by animal rights movements, all inspired by Anglo-Saxon countries, with the result that the relationship between man and animal has changed." Not for all the animals though. The only deer in this video is on the shelf. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HEAD OF FRANCE'S HUNTING WITH HOUNDS ASSOCIATION, PIERRE DE BOISGUILBERT, SAYING: "Hunters are in love with their dogs, of their land, of their space, of their animals and when we put an animal to death, we do it with respect." It's not exactly a level playing field if you are a roe-deer. But when hunters form the second biggest lobby group in the country, it's a case of laissez-faire.