LIVING OFF THE LAND
HUNTING IN VALAIS
“It’s a tradition that’s very much alive—public, democratic. It’s not about income ... You don’t need to own a private estate. That’s why in Switzerland hunters come from all walks of life.”
“Just behind our hotel starts a little path in the forest called the AHV-Weg that takes you to the hamlet of Winkelmatten,” explains Seraina Lauber. “If you follow this path you get a great view of Zermatt and the Matterhorn. If you go in the morning or just before dusk, you might even see some roe deer.”
Daniel Lauber smiles; he is glad she has fallen for this part of the Upper Valais where together they have made their home and hotel, Cervo Mountain Boutique Resort. Seraina hails from Graubünden, Switzerland’s easternmost canton; he, on the other hand, has been walking the valleys and peaks that flank the Matterhorn ever since he was a child.
A committed hunter—his passion reflected in the antlers that decorate their hotel—Lauber has been the president of the hunting association in Upper Valais up until March this year. “I love hunting,” he says. “I go with my father mostly—sometimes to Austria, sometimes to Wiltshire, in England. I’ve been to Scotland too. But the best hunting of all is here, in the Upper Valais.”
And so each September Daniel Lauber takes his rifle and goes for two or three weeks. “We hunt mostly chamois, which in summer when it’s hot can be higher than 3,000 meters,” he says. “We stalk them—it’s something that has to be done, to cull numbers—and stay in little huts.” In other parts of the world, hunting is deemed contentious, for the privileged only. “Not here,” he says. “It’s a tradition that’s very much alive—public, democratic. It’s not about income. You have to have a license, since all the game is owned by the government. You don’t need to own a private estate. That’s why in Switzerland hunters come from all walks of life.”
As to the chamois that are killed, Daniel Lauber sees the spoils are put to good use. Seraina makes the most of the season in September and October, with fresh meat taking center-stage on Cervo's menus. Daniel’s favorite: Saddle of chamois with spätzle and red cabbage.