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Ready, aim, fire...it's hunting season in France

After hunting...
After hunting... Céline Aussourd/Flick'r/CC

 It's not quite the wild west, but nearly one million people will be toting their guns again as this weekend marks the beginning of hunting season here in France that boasts the highest number of hunters in Europe beating out Italy and Spain. 

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Early this morning, gun shots were once again echoing throughout the French country side. The sound marks the opening of hunting season after a pause of six months allowing the animals to reproduce and grown.

Inside the big cities, as people gather around lunches of cured meats and steaks, it's easy to forget that hunting is indeed a big deal in France. In fact, hunting is the second most popular sport in the country after football.

To hunt one must have a proper licence. The hunting season of 2011-2012 saw 1,224,000 million people with such permits. But why is it particularly popular here in France?

“The varied landscape: ponds, forests, sea-coast, mountains, plains; the different methods of hunting: gun, gun while mounted on a horse, bow and arrow, as well a huge variety of animals: over 60 kinds of birds and 20 kinds of mammals both small and large, without forgetting the nearly 40,000 hunting associations scattered throughout the country” said Charles Lagies, a lawyer who specialises in hunting and works for the National Federation of Hunters (FNC) and wrote the first guide to hunting in France.

After a drop in numbers, there has been a rise in hunting “mainly among the younger crowd” said the FNC, noting 20,000 new permits have been issued each year.

It’s a popular sport because it’s relatively affordable, requires a certain down-to-earth attitude and keeps you in direct contact with nature.

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