Hunting is a major seasonal sport in Cyprus all undeterred by the fact that there is very little left there to shoot.
Wolves are extinct as of about 1911, the Mouflon sheep (Cyprus' national animal) is shortly to join them and shepherds get irritable when their more domesticated charges go down riddled in hails of polymer-coated lead shot.
This leaves only the rabbit, the hare (borderline extinct), and a variety of protected species of bird, among them several varieties of partridge, such as francolin, and other game birds, including snipe, quail, woodcock, and plover.
These are blasted mercilessly from their natural habitat from August to December when they erroneously pause on the island during seasonal migrations.
The major characteristic to discriminate the Cypriot ginigoss from the European hunter is his (the Cypriot’s) "scorched earth during blitzkrieg" approach to the sport.
Camouflage greens from head to foot are the order of the day with matching fully laden ammunition belt details.
A brace of partridges dangling from the belt and preferably dripping blood down your leg is optional.
The latest fully automatic five-shot gun is obligatory with a copious supply of heaviest-duty cartridges despite the fact that the largest legally available target probably weighs less than three kilos.
Not, of course, that targets are a problem. Road signs, trees, cars, fellow hunters, incautious hikers/tourists, passing aircraft and children down to four years of age have all been seen as fair game.
The twitching of a branch, or the rustling of a bush are signals for a prolonged and thunderous barrage of flame and shot belching from the weapons of eight or ten different protagonists before ever a target emerges from cover, frequently to be immolated in a crater filled with the reek of cordite and brimming with smoke.
It then has it's fragments fought over by the hunters' dogs.
It is argued that the only factors limiting this yearly carnage are:
1. The reluctance of the hunters to accidentally shoot their expensive dogs, thus engendering at least a trace of caution
2. The fact that shot guns are fashionable, rather than rifles, automatic weapons or anything charged particle/laser-guided/rocket propelled or heat-seeking.
3. Sadly less common now but once plentiful, gleeful reports by the television stations of the most amusing/fatal accidents of the day in prime time broadcasts. Although these smirk-inducing reports are less fashionable now then before, it is embarrassing to be hailed nationally or locally as the man who did not know the difference between a mercendez and a laos. (Granted both are swift movers but the ears of the Mercedes-Benz are less obvious and the hare has less chromium.)
4. Appalling standards of marksmanship.
5. There is very little left to shoot.
Other family-orientated activities peripheral to doh gineeh (the hunt) are worthy of comment.
For example the bringing along their wives to plunder sack-loads of olives or oranges from the local pervolia (orchards), the ownership of pairs of huge, slavering pointer dogs in minuscule cages that terrify the local children and are thoroughly pungent in the heat of summer, plus children of four years and upwards with lead shot embedded in various parts of their anatomy.
The only advice to be offered is that during the hunting season is;
1. Stay away from countryside areas i.e. anywhere with a tree.
2. Dress in conspicuous colours and when driving play the radio loudly. Avoid wearing fur at all costs.
3. When leaving for home on the plane, ask the pilot to gain as much height as he can as quickly as possible.
(A brief FYI - In Vietnam, soldiers in helicopters were reputed to have sat on their helmets as they reasoned that any incoming fire was coming from below, not above, thus it was not their heads that were at risk.)