It is common for women in South-West France to be missing a couple of fingers, according to an age-old legend. For pigs are just as unwilling to hand over a priceless Perigord truffle as the next person and will not think twice about biting the hand that feeds them. Thus today's truffle hunters use dogs rather than pigs, preferably small ones so their paws do not damage the truffles.
Martin has been plagued by thieves since he started farming truffles ten years ago. 'The thieves would wait for my car to leave the drive,' He says, 'Or for my wife to take the children to school. They would come at night with their car headlights switched off. I did not sleep for three years, I would just lie in bed and listen'.
On one of these nights, Martin was sure he heard someone arrive and crept downstairs, fearing for his precious truffles. But outside there was no sign of movement so he returned to the house. But just as he had finished undressing and got into bed, he heard the sound of a car engine. 'It was the end,' he explains, 'I picked up my gun and headed outside. When I could see the thief I fired the trigger and heard him yell. He ran and ran and ran''
Three gun shots did the trick. 'When I became known as the local cowboy the poachers stopped visiting,' Martin proudly explains. On the final occasion Martin foiled the poachers by driving off in his car whilst leaving his wife to patrol with the gun. 'She is a professional pistol shot ' she does not miss,' Martin tells me. 'Last December, there were three days of heavy fog ' like cotton,' Martin's eyes widen, 'And afterwards all the truffles in the area had been visited'but not mine'.