Ariège: in the footsteps of the king of the forest for the last days of the slab

Ariège: in the footsteps of the king of the forest for the last days of the slab

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After starting around mid-September, the slab period will end in the next few days. A few lucky ones take advantage of the last night walks dedicated to listening to and observing the cry of the deer.

The magic of the slab will soon end. In the days to come, the mating season will be over for the king of the forest, who will then become much more difficult to see. Thus, the curious are currently seizing the last opportunities to listen to this very special cry.

During each autumn, via his small structure, Denis Wohmann offers organized outings, to try to hear and observe the majestic animal. “Wednesday may be the last sighting,” says the director of Dahu Ariège.

Last week, he therefore welcomed some of the last lucky ones, for a nocturnal approach to the great deer. Thursday, October 6, Stéphane, Virginie and their daughter Ava came from Girona (Spain) for the occasion. “It’s a birthday present,” smiles the father.

“There is a huge demand for this activity”, assures Denis Wohmann. “By doing it in the forest, and not in a park, we retain a certain magic. We really see the wild animal making its rut”, he adds.

Several precautions to take

Departure is in the afternoon, near Brassac. In general, the groups do not exceed the number of eight people. “I do not go out every day, in order to avoid overcrowding. This remains a breeding period for the deer”, warns the boss of the Dahu Ariège, structure in place for 12 years.

After a short half-hour drive and a few zigzags, all these little people find themselves in the heights of Barguillère. So, Denis Wohmann evokes some basic elements relating to the red deer, just to present the habits of the animal to the curious of the day. The rest of the exploration is done on foot. There are many precautions. First, everyone is discreet, only whispers are allowed. Exit also the perfume, not to awaken the sensitive sense of smell of the deer. Finally, relatively dark clothes are to be preferred.

“We are going to go around the summer pasture through the forest to avoid being easily spotted”, explains while following the leader of the group. There, hardly the first steps are made that traces of deer can be observed in the middle of the dead leaves. Shortly after 6 p.m., the first slab of the evening is even heard. Taken by the stage local, the Gironians land at a hut after having climbed several meters. Bad luck, the mist has chosen its day… “It’s going to be difficult to see anything here”, announces Denis.

“It’s above all a little pot shot”

Placed on the ground for several minutes, and in total silence, visitors wait, hoping to see the face of one of the deer in the area, they who would be more than 80 to live in the massif. The specialist tempers: “In an outing like this, we have a one in two chance of coming across them. It’s above all a little stroke of luck.”

In fact, the group changes observation post. Walking for about thirty minutes in the middle of the beeches, and to the rhythm of stories and comments by Denis Wohmann, he finds himself at an altitude of 1,514 meters, offering a breathtaking panorama of the neighboring forests and clearings, which bathe in a sea of mist. Before the time of the local meal for the observers, it is therefore a real concert that starts. One of the last of the year.

Posted near the second hut, we hear slabs here and there, the noises echoing in the four corners of the massif. With a pair of binoculars, and while a hunter’s shot rang out in the distance, we even see the king of the forest scaring away one of his own with his impressive hoarse cry. After nearly reaching their peak after dark, the animal’s autumn songs continue throughout the night, fading as they go. Until it goes out once the sun returns. It was slab season.

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