Discover Hunting Europe with Francesco Formisano

WTR | Discovering Hunting

Francesco Formisano shares how as a man in his 30s discovered the challenge, joy, and rewards of hunting. He was a wildlife photographer and veterinarian who was never involved on hunting until he found the intimacy with wild places and animals and was illuminated by the hunt. He soon realized the benefits of harvesting his own meat which led to a healthier lifestyle. As his life has been changed by hunting, his relationships went from, “Hi, how are you?” to, “When can we get back in the mountains and share a campfire?”

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Discover Hunting Europe with Francesco Formisano

Francesco Formisano is on the show. Francesco is from France, but he grew up in Italy. We met on Instagram. Francesco is an outdoor photographer, wildlife photographer and is a large animal veterinarian. We connected and since my eyes are on Europe right now, I want Francesco to come on. We’re going to have a conversation about what it’s like to hunt in Europe and he’s going to ask me some questions so it’s going to be a fun time. Francesco, welcome to the show.

I’m happy to be here. How are you?

I am well. You’re hunting in the warm-up and we came late to hunting. What does that mean? Explain that to our audience.

It all started during the years in university. I was studying to be a veterinarian. I was practicing a lot of wildlife photography, especially in the mountains. Because of photography, I was passionate. I start to be passionate about the biology of this type of wildlife, mountain wildlife, especially mountain goats or wild goats. For my thesis, I was interested to do a thesis about wildlife. I got to know some professors that were doing interesting research of wildlife. I got my thesis about studying the most frequent pathologies of mountain goats and deer. I was completely against hunting but because of my thesis, I got to know different people from different backgrounds like hunters, non-hunters, researchers, doctors, and biologists.

My conception of hunting started to change because I was spending time with these people. Going up to the mountain with big lens trying to get good shots and good photography of these mountain goats, I’m like, “I have to know everything about these animals. I have to know where they are roaming, there are, and the different cycles of the year.” When I was speaking with hunters, I was like, “These people know everything because they are spending all their spare time on top of the mountains.” I was fascinated with that. Talking with my professors, I started to understand that hunting is conservation. Conservation and hunting are the two sides of the same coin. You can all have conservation by itself and just hunting by itself. The two things are the same aspect of this topic. I completely changed my mind. I was near to get the degree I’m in and I moved to France because one clinic was looking for young vets to do a sample campaign for their health system check out on pathologies.

Hunting is conservation. Click To Tweet

There, I was starting to be an independent adult and I said, “This is a good time to get my license here and start my experience my way to the hunting world.” I got my license fresh because, in 2016, I got my license. I was working with hunters in terms of research and I did a three-year thesis doing autopsies on more than 1000 animals to understand what kind of pathologies are around the Northwest of Italy in the Alpine environment. After that, I say, “Now it’s my turn. I want to go to the outdoors completely. I want to experience that in the deepest of the way as a hunter as well.” That was a part of it. I still have to continue to put the photography into what I’m going to do even if I am a hunter. That was the step that brought me to this project called Altitude and Trails that is on Instagram. That’s the reason why I’m putting different views of what hunting is through the message of photography.

You are a non-hunter and you have a scientific background, but you have an eye for the lens so you have an eye for composing art because photography is art. It throws you into the outdoors and you realized that hunters do the whole thing. You hit tightly on the conservation. Without hunters, there is no conservation. Hunters fund conservation and work with the local agencies to help manage the herd. I salute you and thank you for understanding that relationship because it’s very symbiotic.

The good photographers I know are excellent hunters if they choose to be. Millions of photographers will never kill anything and that’s their choice. I know a lot of photographers gravitate to you because they want to know when is the best time for the rut, for the bull breeding season. I remember going to Yellowstone Park and it was lined with long lenses. You had every photographer in the whole world who were there because you could be 100 yards away or less from a bull doing breeding, during the breeding season, during the rut. There’s no better laboratory in the world than Yellowstone Park. You have other places in the world that hold similar traits for that species. What do you study now? What are you looking for in terms of your project in France in animals? What is that about?

That project is called Altitude and Trails. Living in Italy and France, you start to understand that hunting is not that fashionable. There is a lot of people that criticize hunting. There are a lot of people that are tough about it. They are ready to just launch all types of critics even without knowing what you do and that’s bad. I have different occasions that I have experienced that. Some of the vets that I know were attacked badly because of anti-hunters. The main goal of my project is trying to use a powerful tool, photography, to tell stories and to show that hunting to be seen with a different perspective, with a different eye.

Photography can be a powerful tool to tell stories and to show hunting from a different perspective and light. Click To Tweet

Part of the problem is that we are showing hunting not in a good way. We’re showing it to people that don’t know hunting. If we show that most of the time is there’s a research for a big trophy, most of the time it’s just a big animal, we don’t give the right meaning to these people because they are not in the field. I’m not against the trophy hunting. Biologically speaking, you’re taking an animal that is mature. They did most of their lifecycle and that’s okay in terms of biology. These people are going to see that you’re going out take the trophy and go back home and that’s all. It’s not what is happening. If we show with photography these things in a good way, it’s a good step to tell these people that hunting is not just about killing and just be an assassin in the outdoors.

When I started to be a hunter, I started to realize that just to take and harvest an animal, you ask yourself a lot of effort if you want to do that in a good way. You have to know the place. You have to wake up early. You have to train with your weapon to understand what kind of animal you have to take. You have to follow and study the animal. Even when you kill it, there’s a lot of work if you want to do it in an ethical way. Our tradition in Northern Italy is we hunt and we eat what we hunt. That means we prepare the animal. We do it all our self. We care about the meat that we bring home and all the family is going to enjoy this meat. We’re going to bring clean meat to the families, that is important, and there is a lot of satisfaction in doing that because you’re doing an ethical way. You’re doing as exactly as your ancestor did that. That is the message we want to bring.

Are you being funded to do this?

This is a personal project. This is a project that I founded. It was founded by myself at the moment and we start to be open for any kind of proposition, proposal, sponsor. It’s growing. We just started in 2017. All of our projects belong to the different categories of the industry. Starting is so difficult especially economically speaking. Who knows what’s going to happen in the future?

What do you do for your real job?

I’m a veterinarian. It’s already been twelve years. I’m a part owner of a clinic in the middle of France. At work, we do large animals especially cows that are ready for meat. That makes our fall and winter busy because we have to assist them for the cow birth. These cows are a little bit problematic in terms of the cow birth, the size of the cow, and other types of issues. Most of our work is focused on this period of the year where we have a cow giving birth, so we don’t sleep so much. We’re going to wake up at 3:00 AM because the breeder will call us because the cow is having problems with their calf. After years, it becomes a routine at work.

You’re a photographer getting on the mountains, talking to hunters and then eating the food. You go back in and the hunting tradition. Do you give all your animals that you harvest the last meal?

I hunt with my friends. They are born in the north of Italy. Their families are hunters, so they have a big tradition. I come from a family that no one is a hunter. More of my family is from the South and now I moved to France. My tradition is a little bit strange because I’m a little bit of eclectic. When I hunt with them, we do that ritual, but when I hunt by myself, it’s different. I’m more into the individual hunt. When I kill an animal, there is a moment I spend next to the animal thinking about what happened. I’m thinking about what if I’d done the right thing. Then I start preparing the animal, moving the animal from the spot. I do it with my friends because this is their ritual. Mine is a little bit more different. It’s a personal ritual because my family is starting the hunting tradition with me and I hope that it’s going to continue with my kids in the future.

Tell me about the animals that you hunt in Northern Italy.

We are in the Northwest Alpine Region called Piemonte and it’s fabulous for mountain hunting. We have chamois, we have red deer, mouflon, roe deer and wild boar. It’s essentially the big game then we have all sorts of small game like ptarmigan, partridge, black crows, hare and foxes. The game is interesting. I’ve been on a lot of hunts with my friends and chamois is the most fascinating one. Chamois is an incredible animal. Biologically speaking, for the adaptation that it developed on the mountain, it’s a beautiful type of hunt. I love that individual chase, stalking. In Italy, they will give you a tag according to a specific category of sex and age and that means that before the hunting season on the mountain, you understand this area and understand where these animals are and which type of animals you have to harvest when he receives this tag. For me, that is important. It’s not like I go out and shoot whatever it is. I hate that.

In chamois, how do you tell the age and the sex?

It’s not about two and a half to three years. It’s just about the youngest of the year and then you go to the adult category. It’s divided like that. The age is according to district category. It’s not that difficult if you start to know a few species. You have to know the morphology and some difference in sex about how the horns are, how the body moves, even what kind of deer they are according to the year. You have a different sexuality. That means that you can find some aspect that you can’t in a male or in a female because that kind is unique. For example, what the Germans call the bart. It’s the long line on the back of a male with long hair. That is a thing that you can find with those traditional hats made of wool. You can find this big brush that is taken from the back of a chamois. It’s a nice trophy.

With mountain goats, the male’s heavy hair and then have pantaloons at later in the season. Does chamois have pantaloons on their feet or their leg? Does the hair come out and look like they’re wearing pants?

The chamois’ hair difference is from the back. It’s just the hair to cover the penis. If you have a good scope, you can understand with that character that that one is a male. In winter, there is a long line of hair that you can find on the back. They use that even during the rut season. They push it up to look bigger when they have a rival next to them. You could see that line and it can even reach 30 centimeters long. Chamois is fascinating because it has a lot of patterns. It’s unbelievable how many different patterns you will see if you are observing chamois. There is that difficult chase that they do when the dominant male tries to chase the other one. They run for meters. It can do 200 meters in some seconds just chasing the rival down to the mountain. Those chases are the most interesting thing to photograph, but it’s tough. I always dream about taking the chase completely in the snow and have all these sparklings going everywhere with the chamois one behind another one. I still didn’t get that shot but there’s still time to try to achieve it.

WTR | Discovering Hunting
Discovering Hunting: Chases are the most interesting thing to photograph.

You’re bringing people, bringing me, bringing my audience to the mountainside. Chamois live on cliffs very similar to the terrain that mountain goats live on. When they start chasing, they’re not just running across the field, they’re running up and down cliffs where we would have to reopen to the scale it. Is that correct?

That’s correct. We just published a picture of a chamois and then we described that thing because when you look, it looks like an antelope running on cliffs. I was reading this ancient book called the Devil. What fascinated me is the description of the novel about what is a chamois. Chamois is a tough animal because it cannot be different. He’s living his life on a mountain and everything is tough from the birth to the whole age. The environment is tough, finding food is tough, the predators are tough. Everything is tough. When I was in university, all the chamois that I receive most of them are for the autopsy and research. The youngest one died of starvation. They just didn’t have enough food. They just died during the winter. The other type of chamois has pneumonia or keratoconjunctivitis. That is not just the environment. It even has a pathology. If you are not tough, you’re going to have a tough life up there. The selection is high. There’s big respect towards these animals, especially when you harvest them because there’s no way chamois can make a mistake. A mistake is going to be death.

We have some periods with this change of climate where you can see that the population is going not higher. It’s staying on a plateau. That’s why we returned to the topic of conservation. When hunters start to see that, they are not happy at all because you want a healthy population. You want that the population is under good prosperity period. When you start to see that, you’re not happy to go hunt because things are going wrong. Sometimes you cannot do much because you can’t do anything about climate change. It’s tough to deal with that problem. It’s a global problem. It’s not just a problem we have here. Dealing with that problem is difficult, especially when you have a gatekeeper and you have to find some ways and suggestion to keep the population healthy.

It’s amazing that Mother Earth, no matter what we do or don’t do, it’s changing ever so much but ever so slowly. It takes hundreds of years to see the impact of what happened and that’s the one thing about climate change. You can go to some places in the country where the ice flow is at the record. You have snow and in other places, there’s not so much snow. The change started before anybody was saying, “Look at this. Look at this.” You’re guilty here and there. This is just my opinion. If you go back and study the earth, it has been evolving. One time I hunt in the upper Midwest for whitetails, there were glaciers and in some areas, there were no glaciers. They are in both sides of the Mississippi River and other parts of Wisconsin. Then you go up North into Ungava Bay region where I’ve been and seen those eskers, ponds, and rivers and it was graded. When the glaciers receded, it dropped all these rocks and created ridges which are called eskers. That happened millions of years ago. Now we see a snapshot of change that was evolving. People are like, “You’re killing too many deer. We’re not seeing deer.” There are more deer now in the United States and North America than there has been ever.

Back in the day of Daniel Boone, they weren’t counting deer. They were eating deer and we know the story of the buffalo. Steven Rinella did a great job in his book, American Buffalo, telling about that animal. The Indians lived off the buffalo and they came and went. It’s the same thing with the Inuits with the caribou. It’s a change and people hate changes, but they love the label changes. We have to adapt. Hunters, we have to adapt to the changes. We have to look and say, “We have a huge problem.” I came back from a seminar put on by Quality Deer Management and there was a panel about CWD or chronic wasting disease, which messes up the brain of the deer. Has that been around in prions? How long have prions been in the ground?

It’s tough to say. There is still a continuous process of adaptation and that’s why we are experiencing a short period of that snapshot. There is still that kind of adaptation that’s under our eyes and this continues to grow. When I arrived here in the middle of France, it was 2006. I was happy about that because we still have winter. I’m from the Alps so I’m like, “We still have snow here.” I love it when the landscape is full white. We have winter. We have a good winter temperature. It’s important to keep going with a good cycle because nature is going to regenerate, but now it’s scary. After ten years, I’m experiencing something strange. In some weeks, we have below two-degree Celsius and in some period like January or February, we are ten to twelve degrees. That’s scary.

We are experiencing some change in pathologies that we see, for example, in cows. We never had those pathologies and now they’re booming up because the population of the bacteria is changing according to the change that’s happening to the environment. We don’t have the same temperature. We don’t have the same soil. We don’t have the same field. We don’t have the same composition of the ground. It’s going to be a chain. There are going to be a lot of consequences that go around it and you try to adapt yourself. As an animal doctor, I find myself in a situation where I don’t work because I know I don’t have the weapons to fight that. I had to adapt myself in five different ways. That’s what it means. We are still in a continuous adaptation process.

The biggest thing is the adaptation. When we hunt, we have to adapt. We have to adapt to environmental conditions. We have to adapt to the landscape. I have gone hunting in the fog. I had to sit down because even though I’ve walked to the same stand 50 times, I didn’t know where I was because my light wouldn’t work because there was fog in my face so I had to sit down and wait. I was at 100 yards from my tree stand. I had to adapt or I would have said, “Nothing bad would happen.” You have to stop and just adapt. Speaking of adaptation, how did you begin hunting? I know you’re out taking pictures but who mentored you?

That introducing moment when you start a new path was done by my friends. They were hunters and they started years ago before me. I moved to France and I have some friends there, but they don’t know this industry. I did a lot of things by myself. I try to have research. I try to understand what was the best way. I like asking myself if it’s a good thing to do. What if I do this? You grow during that. Most of my mentor is being in nature, doing mistakes and not in shooting. It’s trying to approach an animal. When I was a photographer, it was not a difficult approach. When you understand the area, it’s not that tough but when you switch to become a hunter, it will change completely. All your senses have to come out and be perfect. I remember being in nature so many times. I was chasing a roe deer. It was a male. It was during late spring and starting of summer. It was around this area. I woke up early to take the most chance from the situation. I was working at as a vet before and I had a bad night so I didn’t sleep at all.

I was there in the morning trying to find the best situation, checking the wind and checking everything. It was perfect, but the buck was not there. I stayed there observing and it came out all the time at the same hour. I was not on the tree stand. I was just on the ground, but my position was good and I was concealed well. I say, “Just stay here and wait for a while.” Another voice or my brain said, “I think you can get a nap. It’s a long day. I’m going to spend all day here.” I just put myself down. I put the bow next to me and it’s been the most beautiful half hour in my life. I’m sleeping like a bear because I was tired. I woke up and then suddenly, there’s something behind me. I turn around and the buck was behind me. It was five meters away and it was checking me like, “What you’re doing here?”

The bow was far away and I’m like, “You’re a lot more clever than me.” The nap was not allowed. He came to check on me and say, “What are you doing here?” It was even saying, “You’re supposed to hunt. Why do you do that?” That was a good experience. Nothing is allowed when you’re in nature. When you hunt, you have to be in shape, you have to be a keen observer, you have to be able to use all your skills. I was so tired and I said, “I have to get a nap.” The roe deer came close to me to check over me. I look at him and he barks at me and just went away. It was a good experience. I came back home and say, “I had a good teacher today.”

We’ve all had those experiences especially if you hunt in the snow. You wake up and there are tracks right in front of you and they weren’t there when you went to sleep. They’re checking you out because there’s no threat. We are predators. When we’re sleeping, we’re neutral and when we’re hunting, we’re a positive predator. We do it with our eyes that’s why I never look at a game I’m going to kill in the eyes because it lets them know what’s coming. Just duck your head away and stop because you transfer information to that animal. They see you and they realize what’s going to happen. The only way you can have those experiences is to be out there. You can’t get that experience from a book. You can read it and people get to hear about it. I had an experience during the rut in Wisconsin. I had a buck that is a ten pointer and ten feet from my feet. I was on the ground and I couldn’t shoot it. I had my crossbow. They were moving way too fast, but they could care less that I was sitting there. I observe and I came away from that thing. I don’t film my hunt but that film would have gone viral because it’s a ten-pointer chasing an eight-pointer right at you and they broke away at ten feet from me. Those are memories. Did I kill anything? No. Was I hunting? Yes.

When I was a photographer, I had a different approach to animals to stalk them. My approach was different to get close to them. My body was moving differently. The magnetic electric field or whatever it is that comes off from my body was totally different. I’ve experienced that a lot of time with roe deer. For example, you are completely concealed in the environment and the wind is good and the roe deer is coming to you. When there is a group, you will see the young one will stop neat next to you. The adult one will stop two to three meters away even if nothing happens and even if you’re completely behind a tree. These things happened so many times to me. Every time I go back home and I say, “The winter was good,” I was completely behind the three for hours without moving. I have proof because sometimes I leave a camera there. You’ll ask yourself, “How is that possible?” It’s an interesting thing. When you start to spend a lot of time in the outdoors continuously, you’ll start to develop that perspective.

As I was talking with some people at the clinic, I was hearing something. A small bird came inside the roof of the clinic and there were small feet jumping around on the metal thing and I said, “Did you hear that?” The person in front of me said, “What?” There’s something on our head. He’s like, “No, I didn’t hear anything.” Most of the time that you spent outdoors, you’re going to develop those senses and it’s incredible. I think it’s the same thing about deer. A deer is born there in the forest. It stayed there all his life and knows everything about the forest. He can even perceive someone standing behind a tree that he cannot see with his vision. With science now, we can understand how they perceived the noise, sound, vision but I don’t think we can understand something that’s not material. It’s not practical to just take it and divide it. What’s behind is impossible to understand.

I’m doing martial arts When I was young and I remember reading some books about oriental philosophy. There are some stories going back to the middle ages of Japan. The Bushido warriors can understand that if they enter a house, there was someone already waiting for them behind the door. I’ve been always passionate about this culture and I also did a little bit of meditation by myself. There is this thing called electric field that exists and animals are the masters above that. We lost this evolution because of our brain, but some people in the outdoors start to feel that they can perceive these things better.

You go back to the Chinese and read books like Shogun. The characters of those gave evidence of shooting their eyes, shooting their bows and killing the guy that’s coming through the rice wall before they even saw it. Their eyes are shut.

There are a lot of lies about that because it’s being used to create a commercial view of that. Practicing martial arts with some guide adds a lot of experience. You can call them master or sensei. They can tell you that practicing that way allows you to see things in a different way and maybe see things other people are not used to seeing.

The good hunters I know, they know where the game is and they understand what the game is about. You got schooled by that roe deer barking behind you because he came to check you. He knew something was there. You’re sleeping there. You woke up and he barks to let you know that he knows that you’re there. It’s an interesting thing. I welcome anybody that wants to continue this conversation to reach out to me, Bruce Hutcheon, at WhitetailRendezvous@Gmail.com. If you have illustrations of that, reach out to me on Instagram or Facebook. I’d love to talk to you about that because people that hunt big buck do it differently. I had Dan Infalt on the show and he hunts by finding a killing tree. He hunts on public land and he finds a killing tree. He finds a tree that he can kill a buck out of. You have to go to The Hunting Beast and look up Dan. I was mesmerized by his technique. When he goes to a new area, he hunts for the killing tree. In the warm-up, Francesco, you wanted to ask me some questions.

What is the thing that moves yourself to hunt? What was the idea in your mindset that said, “I want to start to be a hunter?”

It has to go back to grade school and it has to go back to my desire. I lived in a place called Foster Center in Rhode Island and went to a small school. One of my buddies is a trapper and he traps stuff. We talked back and forth and then I said, “I want to be a hunter.” Field & Stream and Outdoor Life were magazines that I read. I had an insatiable desire to become a hunter. We had white pines and I took some bread crumbs from the pantry and I took a rubber band and I took heavy paperclip. I spread out the bread crumbs and I sat down with my back to the tree and I waited just to see what would show up. What showed are chickadees and it took me a few times. At the end of that session, I had killed the chickadee. I had killed something when I was a young kid. I’m in grade school and I go, “I just took a life. I killed something.” I didn’t know what to do so I just thanked it and then I buried it. That desire has been in me since I’ve been a little kid.

The next thing I killed were rabbits and the next thing I remember vividly is I had a single shot twenty gauge and you had to pull the hammer back to shoot it. On our little farm, I was hunting grouse. The way I hunted grouse is I look where the wing tips were in the snow because grouse dive bomb into the snow when it’s cold because it insulates them. I’m not the only predator who knows that. Owls know that and fox know that. I’m walking along and watching the ground and I see the wing tips. I cocked the hammer back and out of the snow I bust the grouse and I shot it and I went, “I did it.”

It was just amazing. I’m ten or twelve years old at the time, but I did it. I read the sign, I put myself in the right position, and then I pulled the gun up and I get ahead of it and pulled the trigger. I took it home, plucked it, and ate it. I was born in 1946 so we’re talking early ‘50s. I killed my first game and then I trout fish and all the other. I’ve always been drawn to the wild side. I’ve been nine feet from a charging grizzly. I’ve been surrounded by seven wolves. The stories go on and on because I’ve hunted over North America. That was my passion. I believe it’s part of my DNA. Some people say, “God put it in you.” I’m fine with that. We are hunters and very early on, I got in touch with that.

Do you think that the reason that pushes you is that you try to prove something to yourself and you start to hunt or is it because you want to be part of the wilderness?

I would say both. I was very successful in Corporate America because I drove myself. Corporate America and sales were nothing but a hunt. You have a need. I have to find where you are and I have to find out what it’s going to take for me to sell you. It’s the same thing with hunting. I have to prove to myself. I have to push myself up the mountain. At seven years old, I climb a fourteener while hunting while looking for sheep. I had my long lens on and I had my vinyl so I had twenty pounds of glass. I climb a fourteener because I wanted to see the base of that and the other side. I have met wonderful people and I call them granolas or mountain beggars. They climbed at the peak and I’m sitting off to the side and glassing the space. The base is about 12,000 feet, but I can see right down if there’s a sheep there. I climbed it to hunt.

I can agree with that reason because there is a part that you want to prove yourself if you are able to survive or to be independent in an open environment like that. There is even the other reason that you want to be part of it because you love it. You concretized yourself.

WTR | Discovering Hunting
Discovering Hunting: There is a part that you want to prove to yourself if you are able to survive or be independent in an open environment, and that part is because of your love of it.

In my case, it even goes by because animals know that I’m not going to kill them. When those bucks came a little six-point or less than ten feet from me, he was just looking at me. He knew I wasn’t going to kill him. I was inside a dead tree that gets hollowed out. That was my hide and I’m sitting on the ground. I’ve been hunting for over 53 years. The animals will figure out if you’re a threat or not a threat and it was a bigger thing than anything. I got to Nebraska and I found out where the buck was living. I watched the younger buck to get up. I was 100 yards away and he came within 22 yards from me knowing that I was there all the time. When you start having those situations, then you’re getting a tune to the wilderness. There are people that can live in the wilderness, comfortable in the wilderness and there are people that are scared of it. They can’t handle it. They can’t handle the silence.

We don’t bump out people. We all lovers of wildness so that’s normal. We cannot expect everyone is loving the outdoors. There are so many people that cannot stand even one second in the wilderness. I don’t why but it is a fact.

What’s your story? You said you’ve got a couple of stories.

At my work, we have some students that inferences that from college. They come and they spend one week to see always the work and maybe they’re going to try to get into the vet industry. We are in the countryside. Sometimes during a check of a cow or a horse, we can stop a little bit in the wilderness. There’s a little bit of free time and I say, “Follow me. We’re going to the forest.” I would just check the air if it’s a good time in the day. Some students are like, “Why are we going there?” I say, “Let’s just spend a little bit of time. We are waiting for the next check and there are a couple of hours. We would just chill out and have a little bit of snack and a little walk.” They don’t like it. They’re like, “No, we prefer we go back to the clinic and get a coffee.”

Now I’m going to force people. Sometimes you will have a good experience as well. I have one student that started when he was fourteen and he was so passionate about what we’re saying and said, “Can I come next year?” I said, “Yes.” He started to come year-after-year and now he’s starting back and he followed me in some of my hunt and adventures. He’s trying to learn about photography. He wants to be a photographer. Now some of the pictures that are on our Instagram profile were made by him. That’s a huge satisfaction. When someone loves exactly what you love and want to follow your path, that’s amazing. It doesn’t happen every time. It’s not a bad thing. If it happens every time, you will be bored after a while. I was happy about that.

What’s the one big thing that you know about hunting? You said, “I wish I knew that then because I would have been more successful in hunting chamois or roe deer or whatever?”

I’ve been hunting roe deer mostly with a precision rifle. I’m always being passionate about shooting bows. I will shoot with traditional bows from Mongolia because I love horseback archery. I went to Mongolia to try to find the last artisan that is still doing the laminated bows with horns and wood. I found one and I discovered that there are seven remaining artists in Mongolia that can still do a traditional bow. I found one and he made a couple from me. I was starting just by myself because no one was hunting with a bow. I remembered I got my first bow and I kill a couple of small games like pheasant and rabbit, I stopped because it was difficult. It was frustrating. I didn’t improve at all. In 2017, I started to practice with a good compound. I wish I started earlier because I love that type of hunting. That type of hunting is not so well diffused here. There are not so many people that are doing that in France.

It’s difficult to find a tag for that type of hunt because it’s all about driven hands. There is the silence, there is the individual chase, there is killing a tree. I wish I started earlier because it’s physical. You would be shaped. You have to train a lot and these are the things that I like and you have to be strict about your improvement. Using a bow, I’m 100% sure you can just say, “It’s perfect.” Then you just wait when you’re going to hunt. No, you have to practice every day if it’s possible. You have to reserve some days of your week doing some of that. If you feel too proud of you, something is going to happen. Your gloves are a little bit too big too thick. Maybe your posture is not easy because you are in the forest. Your feet are going to be there. The animal is starting to come so fast at twenty yards or maybe moving a quarter away. That’s the hunt that I like.

Thank you for that. Do you have any last comments for our audience here in North America?

From a European perspective, you have one of the most beautiful hunts out there. Your land is beautiful and it’s nice to see that there are people that are so passionate about the hunt and continue to do this type of work. This project is bringing the hunt to the good level because there are a lot of critics. There’s a lot of people that don’t understand the effort that we put. We put our life into it. It’s not a hobby, it’s not something you just do at weekends. There is a lot of devotion. There is a lot of responsibility. For what I’ve seen on Instagram, you are doing good work and it’s amazing. I watch your videos, I listened to your podcast and I’m happy to see what is happening over there.

Thank you so much for that, Francesco. I look forward to having you on again and I’d love to have any members of your team on.

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About Francesco Formisano

“Born of the Italian Alps, Francesco always looked towards the distant glimpse of the mountains as an ever-present reminder of the adventures just within reach. Constantly inspired by nature and her gifts of landscape and wildlife, he aims to tell an honest story about living off the land and the action necessary to ensure the abundance of this bounty for generations to come. As an agricultural veterinarian, he has a deep understanding of commercial meat industries which in turn fosters an even more intimate appreciation of harvesting the wild. It is this perspective he hopes to share – the “why” and “how” of the hunt, derived from his experiences and philosophies; and retold through the medium of his art, films, and photography.” By the way, I see a Zoom invitation here, but I also downloaded blue jeans according to a previous email you sent. To clarify, would we be using just Zoom tomorrow? Many thanks, Francesco

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