15 February 2011

Une battue dimanche matin

Battue is one of the many French words that are hard to translate into American English. It's an organized hunt — “an organized shooting party” during which hunters beat the bushes to flush out game animals, as one dictionary says.

is the past participle of the French word for “to beat” — battre. It becomes a feminine noun, une battue, in the usage I'm talking about. The term battue isn't in the American Heritage Dictionary, so I guess it's not used in the U.S. The British use it, apparently.

Our hamlet on a February morning

Maybe battue is used in America and I just don't know about it. I've never been a hunter. I just looked at the entry on battue on wiktionary.org and I see that somebody thinks the English term is derived from Portuguese batuda or Italian battuta. That's funny, since battue is obviously the French word.

Hunters waiting with guns at the ready

Okay, I've gotten carried away with the linguistics of it all. There was an organized hunt of the kind called a battue out in the vineyard Sunday morning. Except for such events, for which signs and guards are posted along the roads to warn motorists that large game animals might suddenly jump out in front of their cars, the winter hunting season is over in our area.

I saw at least one woman hunter out there Sunday morning.

I didn't see any evidence that the hunters actually bagged anything. I don't know if the hunt was for foxes, which are considered a pest around Saint-Aignan (and other places) or deer (also a pest). Populations have to be kept under control, they say, because these animals no longer have any natural predators. We see deer frequently, and we've seen foxes a few times.

There are woods all around the vineyard.

I don't know if badgers are hunted, but I know there are some around here. A neighbor told us recently that she often sees a big badger crossing the road down below us when she is driving to work in the morning. I've seen badgers on my morning walks out in the vineyard. And there are hares too — Callie and I see them regularly.

Hunters, dogs, and, in the distance, some hikers coming
through the vineyard Sunday morning

There were a lot of hunters out there beating the bushes, or waiting with guns at the ready at the ends of rows of vines, but there were no animals that I could see — dead or alive. A couple of weeks ago, we were out driving in the forest south of Saint-Aignan, on our way to Preuilly-sur-Claise on a Sunday morning, when suddenly eight or ten deer, including a large buck, came out of the woods and crossed the road right in front of us.

I had to slow down to let them finish crossing. There was a battue in progress that morning, in that area. Like here, on Sunday. This time, I stayed inside and just took some pictures from the upstairs windows.


  1. A "BATTU" is fairly common in the US by hunters who "drive" the woods or fields and push deer toward shooters at the end of the woods or fields. It can be effective to roust deer who can hide quite well from hunters. I hate to be part of a drive due to the danger of it in my mind! I don't mind being posted at the end of the field behind a tree to shelter myself from errand shots but I just don't trust "trigger happy" hunters who fire willy-nilly at anything that moves! I rather take a secluded seat and wait for an animal to come to me in their normal course of the day!

  2. You are lucky that hunters are at work in your area on a fairly regular basis. I live quite close to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and there is always a huge controversy about allowing hunting in the park to cull the herds. So many people do not understand this, so there are way too many deer, too many accidents with them, too much damage to gardens. And since they are mostly not allowed to be hunted in the park, too many of them starve in the winter.

  3. Thanks Dale, I don't find battu or battue in the American Heritage Dictionary, but you obviously know what you are talking about.

    Kristi, we are lucky to have the hunters at work in the wintertime, I guess.

  4. I am in full agreement with Kristi... culling must take place. [Rant started]We have removed the natural predators in most cases and need to be the replacements ourselves.
    Case in point is the terribly weak condition of the Red Deer population in the Highlands of Scotland. There are far too many of them for the land to support, the gillies don't cull them properly and no-one pays a good price to shoot weak specimens... result: deterioration. The Red Deer here are about a third heavier than their Scottish cousins and with better antlers to use as hat-racks. [Rant finished!]

  5. Wouldn't it be interesting if animals could decide we've over-populated their area, and need to "thin" us out because we're eating too much of their food?

  6. Starman,

    That's the quote of the day!

    I'm one million percent behind you!

  7. The word "battu/e" isn't used for the activity Dale described; in Pennsylvania they call it "driving deer" or "a drive."

  8. Linguistically speaking, I'm wondering if "bat the bushes" was originated from hunting?

  9. In French there is an expression: "Battre la campagne" which means being crazy. Does it have anything to do with hunting? I'll check with Google.

  10. Pour les francophones et les chasseurs:


  11. Mary, yes, I feel sure the expression "to beat the bushes" was first a hunting expression.

    Thanks, Carolyn.

    Starman, we have other human beings to thin our population. We've replaced animals in that way. We are animals, after all!

    CHM, doesn't battre la campagne means to let your mind wander, almost to daydream. You mind wanders all over the countryside, without focus. “To space out” would be a contemporary American equivalent, maybe.

  12. It's not just a matter of deer having lost all their predators here. They are also being corralled into smaller and smaller areas, so loss of habitat coupled with increasing population is the main cause of the problem. Organised culls are now the only way of dealing with it.

    It is legal to hunt badgers here. It is done by digging them out and packs of terriers and dachshunds. My opinion of the sort of people who indulge in this practice is fairly low, and unfortunately they give hunters in general a bad name. It is cruel and pointless, but the participants don't seem to have any concept of this.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?