Truffle's hunting

In the old times, peoples had believed that the truffles are created by thunders, which have been fallen near the trees, that the truffles ‘matures’ exactly on full moon, that they shows on mystical places or under enchanted trees, that a man must have a magical abilities to ‘catch’ the best truffle, that the truffles can spellbind, heal, bring luck or misfortunes  by themselves, too.

All legends around truffles become more explicable when we take into account the places where truffles grows, their exclusive taste, their price (as like gem’s price), plus the unique way of truffles’ hunting.
In fact, they grows spontaneously just on some trees and in stict soil and weather conditions.

That’s why the truffles’ gathering is more like searching for  treasure. As we already mentioned, truffles grows under soil and the only way to take them out is to form a union between the human experience of recognizing the best places and trees for truffles and the dog smell which dog is trained to recognize truffles’ specific smell.

In France truffles, initially, have been gathered by pigs, but later the French began to train dogs. Lagotto romagnolo is the single breed, officially recognized as the truffle’s searching specialist. That old breed, came from Ravena district, is known since 16th century, but became more popular in Italy in the 19th century. In fact, the breed is not so important because if every dog is special trained in truffles’ searching, it can be a potential ‘truffles’ hunter’. All it need is to have a good smell, capability for concentrated and long work and also it must not be addicted to truffles. In more cases searchers used ordinary mongrels, which were trained with huge patience by them. There are stories about extraordinary searchers as well as their dogs in every city or district.

The training is pretty severe. The course continues several months and is based on starvation and persistent repeating of same exercises. Dogs loses weight but learn the lesson forever that truffles belongs to the owner. During the course, dog mustn’t be hitted because it might connect the truffles’ smell with negative emotion (from the beatings). The proved positive way of training is the usage of ‘award’ – something delicious but in little quantities that dog continue to work hard for the next ‘award’. At the end of the course, dog begin to connect the truffles’ smell with food – bread, pieces of meat or special prepared biscuits. Dog gets award every time when it finished well its part of job.

The dog’s searcher training program is a complex process and who experienced that kind of work inside, knows that there’re many tricks which must applied methodically. Many young dogs, which didn’t succeed in wild truffles’ hunting , are complete disappointment in the forest later. We recommend to all visitors, which aren’t exercise with dogs training, don’t do it because the dogs training program with truffles’ smell is trickier and more complex than you might think it is.

When the truthful assistant discover a truffle on the place where it’s hidden, he point at it to the leader, who begins to dig extremely carefully  with a special little scapula until the mushroom shows up. After that he must dig every clod back to its place. It’s surely very important for every expert on truffles’ gathering to cover up all the traces of the treasure’s place.

Truffles’ gathering is an old and complex job which is transmitted from generation to generation and learn for years. The man who search for a precious tuber, supported by his dog, experience and a good luck, is known as ‘Trufolao’ in Italy and as ‘Rabassier’ in France. To be recognized by law, he must have got a personal identification document which permits him to work in a specific area and have respect to private property and nearby settlements. The truffles’ searcher is a professional even in his attitude – quiet moves, measured movements, short replicas. He know when the truffles grows, the places and the trees where he can find them, how to gather them, know how to order to the dog to search and how to award it after that. The true truffes’ gatherer can quickly recognize the good species and he knows they’re priceless.

Truffles’ gatherers usually go at twilight and work at night. It is necessary from one side to avoid a divulgation of their best places to their competitors or a meet with curious people.  However, more important is the fact that the dogs works better at night or even better when they’re in fog which mutes the sounds and perplexes  the outlines of objects.  In that case it’s normal to say the truffles’ gatherers’ world is full of magic and mysteries. Big successes in his work brings him not only a better outcome but also a glory, which is almost every time coated with strange stories. All kind of stories have been told about them and by themselves too. Everybody knows stories about hidden maps and calendars on which big master have recorded the truffles’ places and the dates of their appearance. According to the old searchers from Lange and Monferato, for example, the ‘white’ truffle matures only on the third Moon after the rains which begin at September. Of course, that can be accept as one of the countless superstitions, but it also shows a good knowledge of the Moon phases, because it seems that the superstition constantly proves itself.