A few days before November 1 when the wild boar hunting season begins one can feel the stirrings of excitement in the village begin to mount. Then suddenly many of the retired gentleman disappear from their usual benches and return in their khakis to the village in the evening carrying their shotguns. The season continues until January 31st and during this time one might need to wait until Monday, Tuesday or Thursday, when there is no boar hunting, for the electrician or plumber to arrive.
The wild boar hunt is stepped in long and universal traditions associated with courage, patience, strategic thinking and persistence. The boar originated in Eurasia and Africa and was then brought to America in the 1500s as a food staple. Huntsmen later imported them to Europe for game sport. An aggressive animal, it requires teamwork and careful tracking with dogs through the woods.
Given the absence of natural predators, the wild boar now in Tuscany has multiplied out of control. This has become a real threat to agriculture, and causes quite a few road accidents as well. The Italian boar, smaller (60 kilo) and producing 1 or 2 offspring a year has been superseded by a larger (120 kilo) Hungarian strain which produces 7-8 offspring three times every two years. They forage the fields and are unwelcome guests in vegetable plots and gardens. There are not enough regular hunters to keep the population in balance and so squads from the Corpo Forestrale (Ranger/Forestry Service) as well as specially licensed hunters are trained to cull the ever-growing population off season.
Hunting laws are stringent in Italy requiring hunters not only to buy a license but also to take exams both written and oral. Fortunately, the boar properly prepared and cooked is a culinary favorite here in Tuscany!
Many thanks to Dott. Matteo Brogioni, hunter and a lawyer for his time and patience explaining the hunt. He learned hunting with his grandfather, accompanying him in the woods from age of 6.