We join Team Wild TV expert Pierre Lacombe as he goes on the hunt with his trusty bow for ‘Myocastor’ in the South of France…
If you’re a bow hunter and live in France, you’re very familiar with “Ragondin” (Myocastor Coypus in Latin). But if you’re not French, you’ll probably be wondering what this giant rat is.
The Myocastor dig holes in riverbanks and cause many problems to farmlands. They’re mainly active at dawn and dusk, but you can spot them during the day. As the species is listed as a ‘pest’ in France, they can be hunted all year round!! They’re one of my favourite animals to go Bow Hunting for, as they are very well populated and make the outings very sporting with plenty of action.
I spend a lot of my time hunting in the south of France, near Toulouse. I equally enjoy all forms of hunting but I only hunt Myocastors with my bow and arrow, they are very suspicious and quite small targets, making for a very challenging hunt.
With daylight fading around 6.30pm, I started my outing. The area I have chosen for my hunt is based around a small stream, 500 metres long and 3 metres wide, with a lot of roots and brambles along the banks… ideal cover. Whilst preparing my equipment I noticed 6 animals in the distance, but they will be very hard to shoot, as they are feeding on an open grass field that has no cover. But no matter, it’s a good sign for the rest of the afternoon.
One of the best ways to get close to a Myocastor is to approach them under rough cover or when sitting in their holes. I started walking step by step, stopping every 2 or 3 metres to try to spot a Myocastor before he spots me. After an 80 metre walk (not very long I know), I spot my first animal. He’s under some roots and I can only see it’s head out of the water. While he’s looking the other way I had the chance to get closer, I’m now standing 5 metres away, at this moment I decide to take my chance. I will either kill him or miss him. The arrow leaves the bow and ends up right on the target. The Myocastor is down. I am very pleased about this clean shot as the animal didn’t suffer and can be collected shortly.
What a start! I start to get close to an animal feeding 50 metres away, as I started to get closer I suddenly notice one 10 metres away, resting under some brambles. I don’t think he spotted me, so I decide to take my chance. Once again the arrow strikes!! The animal starts jumping and splashing, I shoot a second arrow to avoid any unnecessary suffering. The animal dropped dead.
I collected him and take a moment to sharpen my arrows. I decide to go for one more, I want to help reduce the population to a good level but I certainly don’t want to wipe them all out. Management is my only rule.
I shortly spot three more feeding 200 metres away and decide to go for one; two of the three are quite young and perfectly fitting my management policy. The stalk is quite long and difficult as I have no cover and three pairs of eyes watching me. I can only take a step when all three are facing the other way. After around 20 minutes I’m now 20 metres away, I manage to get a bit closer so I can take a safe, clean shot. I’m now finally in a good position and shoot my arrow, I strike the animal in the body and he starts running to get into his hole, I run after him and able to let off a second arrow just before he goes in. I hit the neck and the Myocastor falls dead.
I decide to end my hunt there; I’m really pleased with my result. The sun is not down just yet but I’m happy to head home and wait a couple of weeks before I return to the area for more hunting.
Weight: 10 to 15 lbs
Body length: 40/60 cm
Tail length: 30/40 cm
Arrow: Blade 100g