From his bright workshop, there is a breathtaking view of a meadow surrounded by dense forest, a paradise for deer, hares and other deer. It is there, on the first floor of his home in Bout-au-Bois, in the heart of the Ardennes, that the 73-year-old former teacher finds inspiration in front of his imposing drafting table.
In “La Hulotte” – the name of a brown-feathered owl whose specimen nested opposite his former flock – he tells and draws the life of birds, insects, mammals, fish, as well as plants and flowers.
“I’m talking about the nature that surrounds us, about the species that live near us, but which we don’t notice most of the time,” says a shy man with gray hair.
Since the first edition in 1972, 112 issues have been published, sold only by subscription. Word-of-mouth success is overwhelming.
“Son of Erzhe”
“I had a project to create environmental clubs in the department. According to him, La Hulotte was supposed to be a kind of newsletter informing about the news of these clubs. But the clubs did not have the success that I expected, unlike the magazine, which very quickly exceeded a thousand subscribers. »
Subscriptions multiplied until they topped 100,000 around the 1980s and stabilized at around 150,000 over the course of twenty years. La Hulotte currently employs seven people.
The son of a farm worker and the eldest of eight children, Pierre Déom grew up in the countryside. But he became interested in nature only at the end of his life. “Living in the city, I finally realized that I miss nature. »
“He is the child of Buffon, Cuvier, Lamarck: the continuation of the great naturalists who have done the honor of France.”
Then an acquaintance offered to introduce him to ringing, a method designed to track the movements of certain types of birds. “A real revelation,” he said. I remember once I managed to hold a kingfisher in my palm, a real treasure! »
Through La Hulotte, this “son of Hergé”, as he describes himself with sincere humility, perfected his style over decades, sometimes spending up to 60 hours on a single drawing. The magnifying glass allows him to add a nest twig here, a bird feather there.
Read in 70 countries
“He is the child of Buffon, Cuvier, Lamarck: the continuation of the great naturalists who made France famous,” welcomes Allen Bougrin-Dubourg, President of the League for the Protection of Birds (LPO).
“All the naturalists I’ve met, including the great teachers, were initiated by La Hulotte,” vows the former broadcaster, who admits to “mad admiration” for Pierre Deom, with whom he is close.
In addition, thanks to the accuracy and wealth of information it pulls out, La Hulotte has won the loyalty of its readers, earning its place in both elementary school libraries and CNRS.
Between popular books and scientific works, the author, with the help of a librarian, collects, lists and checks as much data as possible to offer a playful and humorous story of about forty pages, without advertising, arranged with the greatest scientific rigor.
He says he dedicates “1,000 to 1,500 hours of work on each issue, from collecting and proofreading information to typesetting, writing and, of course, drawing.” In order to meet the deadlines for the publication of their journal, which is expected in 70 countries around the world.
If he likes to unearth little-known anecdotes, Pierre Deuume adheres to the golden rule: keep an educational approach within the reach of a ten-year-old to give young people “the desire to discover, in turn, nature.”