Miserai was purchased in 1928 by my great grandfather Judicaël Levesque.
My grandfather, Martial Levesque, wrote a piece on the history of Miserai as a hunting property – see below. He was always passionate about hunting the wild boar. This was, and is still, a very important part of our family’s history and traditions. In this article, he discusses the Levesque’s involvement in the origins of the “Vautrait du Perche” – a big game hunting organisation in Normandy. Their slogan is “Ecoute a la tete”: listen to the head of the pack.
Although in french, the website of the Vautrait du Perche has some wonderful photos of the hunt: http://vautraitduperche.voila.net/photos.html . The hunts are strictly regulated – as wild boars have no natural predators, their population numbers must be monitored. If their population was left unchecked, this would cause great ecological damage to the forests.
The love and tradition of the wild boar hunt is passed down through the generations. The hunters have great respect for the forest as well as the animals and must learn the boars behavioural patterns, how to know where to look, and how to follow the signs which will lead them to their target – with the aid of the hounds of course. It is truly a beautiful sight to see the pack running through the forest on a lovely morning in the countryside followed by the hunters dressed in their blue and gold uniforms.
Photo credit: http://vautraitduperche.voila.net/photos.html
My gradfather’s piece on Miserai:
My father Judicaël always loved the countryside and its forests because he was born in Paimpont. He was looking around to purchase a wooded property, when during a trip between Marcouville, Eure and Pont-Forêt in Britanny, he had the opportunity to acquire Miserai in 1928.
At the time, my brothers and I were students with the Jesuits inEvreux but we spent all our holidays at Miserai. We werefascinated by hunting both with shot guns as well as on horseback with hounds.
The war came, separating me from my family for a longmobilization and captivity of five years.
In 1947, after the war, I moved to Miserai where I still live today.
It is impossible for me to speak aboutMiserai without mentioning the origins of the “Vautrait du Perche” a big game hunting organization dedicated to chasing wild boars with hounds. I was one of the first witnesses and active members since the very beginning.
My father brought to Miserai hounds donated by Régine, the only daughter ofCount Alphonse de Falandre who died just before the war.
Later on, more hounds joined the pack in Miserai’s kennel when the Baron d ‘Armela, a neighbor, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during the war of 39/45 and as a result left his hounds to my father.
After the war, my father started hunting again in the woods surrounding Miseraiand joined forces with another hunter and neighbor in the person of JeanRenouard Larivière.
At that time, they hunted on a small scale with a few friends armed with shotguns who killed boars right out of the lair.
I wasn’t keen on this type of hunting, so one day, I decided to show up at the meet wearing the traditional dress code used by formal hunt clubs or “equipage”.
Surprisingly, my father found it quite to his liking, and we decided to get a team together to start our new “equipage”.
We first had to decide what coat colors to wear. During my wanderings in Parisrue Richelieu, I stopped at the garment store “Prud’homme” where they showedme good quality material. I brought back royal blue and buff samples to Miserai.
My parents invited the Larivières for dinner in order to decide what type of outfit we should adopt. Everyone seemed to agree with my choices when SimoneLariviere said softly in front of my father “could we enhance the outfit withstripes?” and my father said forcefully “absolutely not!”. Finally, we compromised and the stripes remained on the vest.
As far as the logo or “Bouton” is concerned, my father had a small bronze statue of a wild boar and suggested the idea of a boar jumping into a belt with the motto “Ecoute à la tete” or “Listen to the head of the pack.”
The hunting horn fanfare «la Miserai» was composed by my mother. Later on at the insistence ofseveral members, the name was changed to “Les Echos du Perche.”
The “Vautrait du Perche” was born.
Gradually my father let me organize and run the hunts. I got married in 1952 and my wife, excellent horseback rider participated in all the hunts alongside me.
In 1955, the hounds of Jean Renouard Larivière joined forces with Miserai’s pack. My sister Martine married during the summer of 1958, and my father decided to pass on to me the position of master of the hounds, in agreement with Jean Larivière.
During the four years that followed, we caught an average of thirty boars per season. In 60-61, 33
were caught out of 36 hunt days. I was launching and running a pack of 40 hounds, hunting 6 timesa month.
In 1962, my wife and I decided to move to Paris for the education of our children. Luckily my brother Emmanuel and Jean Larivière decided to continue the momentum, and the”Vautrait du Perche” became what it is today.
Thanks to their hard work and the hard work of Emmanuel’s sons as well as all the other members, our “Equipage” is today one of the most established and recognized big game hunting organization in France.
Although unable to ride for a long time, and walking with difficulty, mypassion for hunting is such that both my wife and I continue to follow the hunts by car twice a week during hunting season.