ASTERIX is to blame for my fascination with hunting wild boar.
But with neither the resources nor connections, converting the Gaul’s exploits remained a daydream since childhood. Until I married a Pole.
It turns out my wife’s cousins in northern Poland are big hunters, so while visiting on the weekend I was invited along as an observer in their search for wild boar, or ‘dzik’ (pronounced ‘jeek’ in English).
Joining the party at 7am, the guns and beaters lined up to go through formalities, draw cards from a hat to decide where they would stand for each drive and be serenaded by a hunting horn.
The first couple of drives were dry, but the weather was bright and the lack of prey was small concern to anyone being fed shots of Jagermeister in the back of an Opel Frontera.
Then on the last drive before lunch standing on a track with cousin we heard a rustling ahead in the brush. All of a sudden five ‘dzik’ scurried into view 30 yards to our right. Dark, wet, hairy and not quite fast enough.
A quarter of an hour and much excitement later the whole party was standing around a wild boar being gutted. A fir branch placed in its mouth. Its blood ritually smeared on cousin’s forehead.
After an appropriate repast of ‘dzik’ and cabbage stew the second half of the day was more lively. Cries of ‘dzik! dzik!’ from beaters far off in the undergrowth. More scurrying swine. A short ceremony to celebrate the day’s victories.
Then the real drinking started.
Anyone who has played a drinking game called Centurions will be familiar with the format of a shot of beer every minute for 100 minutes. It felt like we were playing that with vodka.
Having polished off two bottles between six people we went to drop off the day’s haul in the town cold room.
The time it took to hang the meat was ample to see off another bottle.
Things get hazy after that.