Hunting with hounds at Château de Montpoupon
What is hunting?
Also known as venery, hunting has a long history. It consists of chasing an animal on foot or on horseback using a pack of dogs known as hounds. Those who practice this style of hunting are known as coursers.
The season for hunting with hounds runs from September to March.
Hunting with hounds has a specific and complex vocabulary and is deeply rooted in our cultural heritage.
Let’s spend a day out hunting!
Hunting with hounds is a group activity and the hunting party, which comprises horses, hounds, h hunt unters and the whipper-in, is called the.
The hounds play the leading role in this kind of hunt, chasing the animal until it is caught. The hunters are there only to serve the hounds.
The whipper-in is in charge of training and taking care of the hounds. Here he is on the left, leading the hunt.
Six species of animal are hunted: young stags, roe deer, boars, foxes, hares and rabbits. Huntsmen never hunt more than one species.
The first stage of the hunt is the invitation. The hunt master informs the hunters (also called “buttons”) of the date and place of the “meet”.
At the Château de Montpoupon, Emile de la Motte Saint-Pierre, then the owner of the estate, formed the hunt in 1873.
When it was dissolved in 1949, the Berry Hunt took over and hunted deer at Montpoupon.
Special clothing and accessories are essential for hunting with hounds. They define each role during the hunt and also enable hunts and their specific characteristics to be recognized.
Special vocabulary is used when referring to hunting clothes. For example, colors are given different names. Red becomes cherry, beige is called doe’s breast and yellow is jonquil.
Another essential accessory for the hunter is the hunting horn.
It enables hunters to communicate with one another during a hunt. There are numerous calls (tunes sounded on the horn) corresponding to each stage of the hunt. Each hunt has its own call. The horn also communicates with the hounds which know what they are supposed to do according to which call is sounded.
In hunting, the expression “hunting horn” is used. The instrument is not called a trumpet.
The horn appeared in the 17th century to add magnificence to hunting with hounds.
Hunting horns are made of brass or copper. They are 4.545 meters long and are tuned to the chord of D.
Three different types of horn were developed:
- the Dampierre, created in the 17th century, is rolled one and a half times
- the Dauphine, dating from the 18th century, is rolled two and a half times
- the Orléans, widely used in the 19th century, is the model still used in hunting with hounds and is rolled three and a half time
Hunt report and departure at Château de Montpoupon.
Venery is not confined to a day’s hunting - it is an art of living in itself. Many everyday objects evoke this ancestral hunting method, ranging from 17th century tapestries to present day creations.
Venery is evoked in the dining-room, as at the Château de Montpoupon in the Loire valley, where hunters reassemble after the hunt.
Being a hunter also means observing a series of codes designed to make hunting with hounds an environmentally friendly activity which respects animals, but also people and their work on the land.
Since time immemorial, many writers have defined the fundamental principles of hunting with hounds. The Société des Veneurs [Hunters’ Society] now publishes charters aimed at hunters, photographers and hunt followers everywhere.
As a secular tradition, venery is not just a method of hunting. It helps preserve forests and species as well as the skills of craftspeople.
At Montpoupon, surrounded by the Châteaux de la Loire, hunting continues to live through the Musée du Veneur (classed among the great hunting museums of France) and events such as the hunting festival in August and also thanks to the people who have hunted there each winter for centuries.
The Louvencourt family, owners of Château de Montpoupon
The Association of Friends of the Musée du Veneur at Montpoupon
La Société de Vènerie
Clémence Bevand, creator of the exhibition
Photographic credits: Jean-Paul Payreault
La Société de Vènerie
Château de Montpoupon
Audio credits: Trompes de Montpoupon
Video credits: Château de Montpoupon