"La thrush hunting it's not what it used to be, you're right Vince ', but you have to understand that it depends on the territory. Once try to come with me to the Saracena AFV: it is a magnificent place, I will make you relive a return of the ones you did as a kid!". The heartfelt and enthusiastic words of Saverio, who died prematurely some time ago, resonate in my mind not without carrying a lump in my throat, while with the car I travel the last kilometers of motorway that from the peaks of the Pollino massif lead to the province of Cosenza . A weekend of thrush hunting in my native land.
The weather promises to be splendid. I am only saddened by the idea of not being able to hunt together with Saverio. The official invitation came from our mutual friend Luigi, a great lover of thrush and wild boar hunting. On the occasion of the hunting trip we will also have the company of Angelo, a young and sensible hunter accompanied by his talented Breton girl Drisla. In the first post-lunch we reach the hunting area, the sun is still high in the sky. The full and enveloping light paints a palette of bright colors around us that bring joy. The pine forest on the top of the hill dominates immense expanses of olive trees.
We arrange ourselves so that Luigi goes to occupy a posting among the olive trees below, Angelo with his auxiliary below him and me at the top, immediately behind the pine forest. My experiences of returning home in recent years unconsciously feed the preconception that the first thrushes will not be seen before sunset. In "my" areas, in fact, it is now taken for granted that the first shots start firing almost in the dark, with the maximum concentration of thrushes in the times at the limit of legality. The exit condenses into the last half hour of twilight, where frantic blows follow one another without having time to retrieve the killed animals in real time.
Even today I prepare myself for a long, apathetic wait in the sun before seeing some thrushes return. Instead, fortunately, I'm wrong!
Pass a thrush up. Taken aback I fire a first shot, but nothing. I concentrate. With a good advance I fire a second shot, followed by the thud of the first thrush on the ground. Almost simultaneously Angelo fires three shots, the third is perplexed about the outcome and spurs Drisla in the direction of the thrush. A few minutes later the Breton returns triumphantly with the thrush in the mouth towards its proud master. With a cadenced and almost uninterrupted rhythm the thrushes launch towards the pine forest going up from the olive grove. The shots sometimes overlap, other times they echo each other.
The rhythm is constant and never agitated, the animals return continuously until sunset, in broad daylight and without long interruptions, allowing us to enjoy the entire afternoon of hunting and Drisla to get busy in the recovery of the numerous culled thrushes. I hadn't experienced a return like this for years. Saverio's words resonate in my mind, with his enthusiasm and his passion for hunting. On our faces reddened by the sun we can read a hint of melancholy for the lack of our friend but also the feeling of having been a little closer to him, up here, on a splendid afternoon returning “as it once was”.