"Now he must cross the chosen hunting mode", the stern gaze of the chairman of the examination commission of the hunting license rests on the tip of the pen that I keep suspended in mid-air. “ZONA ALPI” peeks out at me from the sheet. I live in Novara, at the foot of Monte Rosa, which with its carmino glow illuminates the desolation of the plain cultivated with rice. The mountain looks at me, protects me, calls me… but then I think back to Tuscany, to the hunted wild boar, to the picturesque hills where I will hunt together with my partner. Et voilà, the cross is planted on "wandering in the plain" and so be it. But… hunting in the mountains, the romantic and heroic idea of gods deer hunters and chamois climbing up the rugged peaks, with the burden of a backpack, long and (if heaven wanted) the animal taken; the idea of those spectacular sunrises overlooking the world, of the rocks that split the sky like sheets of crystal, of those gushing streams, the mountain pine, the edelweiss, the muffled snow ... no doubt about it: for me the mountain hunting remains a deep desire. I was talking to my friend Francesco Giordano about these hunting fantasies of mine and after a few weeks the phone call arrives. “How are you standing with legs and breath? Would you feel ready with Vincenzo to go hunting in Val Cadore? ”. I stammered an incredulous "yes" and inflated the wheels of the bicycle to prepare myself to live the realization of a dream.
Once in Laggio, a fraction of the more famous Vigo di Cadore, the scenery of an off-season nativity scene welcomes us: wooden roofs, stacks of wood inlaid like sculptures in front of the houses, geraniums on the balconies, the scent of strudel in the street. Our hook, guide and organizer of these days will be Fiorenzo, owner of the charming restaurant-pizzeria Chalet Al Fogher and active secretary of the Alpine Reserve of Vigo di Cadore. “We are 37 members in the reserve. We have a wonderful area full of animals ”Fiorenzo tells us enthusiastically at dinner on the first evening. We have just arrived and we have just met, he knows something about us and we very little about him but, it will be for the common friend Francesco or, for the common passion, the fact is that once we have reached the ritual grappa we talk in bursts as friends of long date. Antonio, the president of the Reserve, joins us late, and we will accompany him the next day during his first seasonal outing at the deer. Antonio's white temples and soft waistline inspire me with a cautious optimism about the difference in physical preparation between us "lazy" lowland hunters and him. We say goodbye early to make sure we honor the five o'clock appointment the next morning. Before the scheduled time we are all on site. "The more hairpin bends we make in the car, the less there will be to trek after!" Vincenzo grins confidently, while the two off-road vehicles slip nimbly through the mountain curves. Leave the cars at a pitch and set off along a steep, unmarked path, certainly known only to mushroom hunters and hunters.
Accompanying Antonio is his cousin Luigi, also a partner of the reserve and the same age as Antonio. The two mountaineers detach us with a few strides of several tens of meters. The initial slope is important, our alpenstocks support us from dangerous staggers, while their sure-footedness projects them higher and more agile as the muscles warm up. Soon the climb breaks on a steep cliff which dominates the entire ridge opposite. For the two hours we have been stationed, there is no shadow of a deer. Only a female roe comes to visit us, and the morning, inconclusive, ends with a frugal lunch at the hut of the two partners. With the sun still high we decide for an evening out. “Yesterday Giovanni spotted several deer in the Rioda area. There was also the fusone we are looking for! " Antonio comments as we finish washing the lunch dishes. A fox with a thick reddish neck watches us from above as we begin to climb. We slowly enter a sloping area, at the foot of a hill that thins out steeply to the meadow where we are stationed. It seems to be in the arena and the animals, as a paying public, unfolded on the slopes that surround us at 360 degrees. The tall grass at the foot of a large fir tree offers us a minimum of coverage, the declining light, which no longer enters the basin, does the rest. The first roe to peep into the cut on our left makes us jump, but for the deer it is still a bit early ...
A female roe deer was about to appear on the arena that hosts us, but the movement of some of us stops her: like a statue of salt the somersault watches without being able to see us for a few minutes, while her young try some childish pirouette but always without exposing himself, intrigued and alerted by the plastic pose of the mother. After a long wait before it gets too late, Giovanni suggests to Luigi "Since the deer have not yet come out in this pasture, let's try to jump into the small clearing where I saw them yesterday". With a soft step the two move away with binoculars in hand and ear strained. Antonio, in the remote but desirable eventuality that the deer, moved by the two of them, can come towards us, gets ready to shoot. carabina resting on the bipod and the backpack under the stock. Lying on the ground, Antonio measures with the rangefinder the various distances from the possible points where the deer could stop. Minutes pass with bated breath: will there still be deer? What if they run away? Will they stop right there in front of us? Will Antonio be able to keep a cool head? While each of us follows the course of our thoughts, the doe shoots away, lightning fast. At the same instant a noise of heavier, faster, more powerful hooves resounds in the arena coming from our right, below, where Giovanni and Luigi had headed. "Here he is!" Vincenzo whispers without leaving the binoculars, “it's a fusone! Mammamia how big it is! " he comments amazed.
A mighty deer, which by its size and bearing could easily be a sub-adult, were it not for the unripe velvet poles that sprout from its head, is running at full blast along the ridge that climbs towards the top of the hill in front of us. "Get ready Antonio!" I urge, in the throes of excitement. Antonio has already been preparing for some time and has hired the fusone in optics. The animal, however, has not the slightest intention of stopping its run. "Fiuuu" Antonio whistles, the last attempt to stop the race of the deer that is already about to cross the hill. When there are a few meters left to the end of the climb, the fusone slows down to a perfect position. This is the perfect time to shoot. Antonio gets up on his elbows and takes his eye out of the optics. The disappointment on our faces is indelible. “It was against the sky. I couldn't shoot… he stopped too late… ”he comments with downcast eyes. On his face the disappointment and anger of those who had an opportunity and failed to exploit it. But also the enthusiasm and determination of those who know that the mountain, with its treasures, demands a lot but, to those who know how to respect it, gives everything!
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