For half a century, Pierre Déom, the creator of Yulotte, has delighted subscribers with his humorous popular science magazine populated by owls, deer and hedgehogs.
Twice a year, he sends out his subtle sketches and meticulous naturalistic stories to 150,000 subscribers around the world. Creator HulotThe cult and unobtrusive magazine Pierre Déom celebrates half a century of its activity.
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.
Over 150,000 subscribers
Since the first edition in 1972, 112 issues have been published, sold only by subscription. Word-of-mouth success is overwhelming.
“I had a project to create environmental clubs in the department. La Hulotte was supposed to be a kind of newsletter that would report the news of these clubs,” he says. “Except that the clubs didn’t have the success I had hoped for, unlike the magazine, which went over a thousand subscribers very quickly.”
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.”
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 says. “I remember once I was able to hold a kingfisher in the palm of my hand, a real treasure!”
Through Hulot, 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.
From elementary schools to CNRS
“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 gathering and proofreading information to layout, including 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 nature in their turn.”