Planning a drive hunt

A successful drive hunt demands careful preparations. The plans must cover the organisation of the rounds, a recap of the safety rules and the hunt terrain and the numbers and species of game that can be hunted. Our enthusiasts from Picardy in France, Marie and Alexandre, explain.

Planning a drive hunt

#1 Preparing the drive

In Marie's hunt in Picardy, the Field General is responsible for informing everyone of the safety rules, each person's role and the game to be hunted. But every hunter is responsible for their own actions and must have a hunting permit about them that is valid and an insurance policy.

In the event of an accident, the Field General has to prove to the hunt's insurance company that all the teams received all the necessary information on safety and behaviour. And if this is not the case, then the Field General is liable.

preparing the drive

He usually prepares the posts on the terrain, which are represented by numbers or letters. Marie explains that she “indicates these posts, that are marked by spraying paint on a tree, on a map of the terrain for the hunters taking part in the day's drive”. She also indicates in writing any danger zones where, for example, the 30° angle has to be adapted (presence of dwellings, roads, the edge of the hunting terrain).

She prints out the maps and coats them in plastic, so that the hunters can tie them around their necks. On the front, she gives details of any dangers and the position of the posts. And on the back, she describes the different bell tones that give notice of the different phases of the hunt, from the start to the end of the drive, plus the bells specific to the various species.

Every member of the hunt, from drivers to standers and companions, has to sign the drive log book, which contains the numbers of the hunting permits and the insurance policies of every hunter. By signing this document, the hunters declare that they have been informed of the safety instructions and the applicable regulations.

~Alexandre adds that, before the season opens, the Field General and some volunteers reconnoitre the terrain to clean up every post, check the observation huts and identify the posts, if necessary. Before every drive hunt, they define the outhouses for the animals in order to release the dogs and position the line of drivers.

protective high-visibility clothing

#2 The round, or report

Marie's Field General organises the round. All the hunters must be present, both the standers and the drivers.

He recaps the compulsory equipment, and in particular the high-visibility jackets, indicates whether weapons can be carried during the drive and whether the drivers are allowed to shoot small game.

For the standers, he states whether the use of rifles is compulsory or not, and recaps the compulsory equipment, such as protective high-visibility jackets, horns and walkie-talkies.

Walkie-talkies improve communication between all the participants, but only a restricted number of people are allowed to speak: the chairman, the whip, the Field General and the line chief. Standers are only allowed to listen. Finally, walkie-talkies must never be used to indicate the presence or the direction of flight of the game.

The captain then recaps the safety rules: clearly show the 30° angle, the number of blasts of the horn to be given for each animal, the number of blasts of the horn in the event of an accident and the need to remain at one's post if an animal is injured or killed during the hunt. If the animal is injured, it is necessary to wait for the end of the hunt before intervening.

Once the drive has started, everyone has to unload their weapon and check all the shots. The presence of blood or fur must be signalled using biodegradable paper in order to facilitate the search for blood. Participants are also reminded that it is forbidden to shoot at incoming animals, and they are informed whether they can shoot during the drive or not.

hunting horn blasts

Then, he gives the numbers and species of game that can be caught according to the quotas and the state of progress of the hunting plan. All the game that is caught must be ringed with a bracelet before it is removed, which is the reason why it is important to report the type of game using the horns in order to make sure that the number of available rings is respected.

In Alexandre's hunt, the procedure is almost the same. The chairman checks that every hunter has a valid permit and that anyone without a permit is excluded. A copy of the regulations is then given to every hunter. The chairman goes through the safety rules, explains the organisation of the drives to the line and drive leaders, indicates which animals can be caught and may also give details of any sanctions, if the regulations are breached.

The regulations are similar to those of Marie's hunt. They also include the rules applying to sharing nature with other users, such as hikers and cyclists, and explain the need to be vigilant, polite and courteous.

end of the drive

#3 Post-hunt

At the end of the hunt, when distributing the trophies, for example, the chairman or the Field General convenes the hunters for a debrief, recapping the day's events, examples of good behaviour and any sanctions.

Today, applications exist to identify the standers in the vicinity. But the use of mobiles is not recommended during the hunt and these applications should only be used during the preparations.