Moose hunting in Lappland
The Swedish hunting season for the world’s largest deer, the moose or elk, has been underway for several weeks now. Like other dedicated hunters, Härkila’s Pro Team has been following in the elkhound’s tracks, testing out new equipment. The hunt took place in stunning surroundings just south of the Arctic Circle at Blaiken.
This was a hunt in an immense wilderness of bog, streams, hills and forest. Success in such terrain requires a huge planning effort, so the team members– Kjell Lennartsson, Jens Kjær Knudsen, Brian Lisborg and Johnny Goodhart – gathered in the hunting cabin on the day before. Maps, GPS and bright ideas were all quickly laid on the table ... a plan was devised.
There was the promise of a successful hunt right from the start when the hoofprints of a moose cow and calf were found on low-lying ground. When the dog was set on the trail, nobody imagined the challenges that the two team members Jens and Kjell would have to face.
The next couple of hours spelled wintry weather, many kilometres of walking and much sweat on the brow. A sudden cold front drew in and rapidly covered the ground in a layer of powdered snow. In a few minutes, the temperature dropped below freezing, while the hunters kept up a high pace – the dog had the moose at bay.
The excitement peaked when the dog’s baying had been going on long enough for the final stalk to begin. Ahead of the dog, Jens and Kjell saw two moose – as expected, a cow and her calf. After a few nervous minutes, the calf was clear of the vegetation so a shot could be fired.
After some hours at bay, Kjell succeeded in giving Jens a shot at the calf. After the shot hit perfectly home, the animal leapt up and vanished into the dense undergrowth. A splash was heard and it turned out that the calf, with a final sprint, had expired in a forest lake – this was going to be tricky.
The water was still, there was no wind and no boat available – only one way to land the prize now!
Among the rich traditions of the Swedish moose hunt, one is to light a campfire during or after the day’s activity. Of course, the cold and wet of a typical outing offer at least some of the motivation for this. On this day, Jens couldn’t have been happier about this tradition, having secured his moose calf and exited the icy water.
Experiences of this intensity in such close contact with the wild naturally prompt talk of life and death and of being part of the natural cycle.
With body heat regained, it was time to begin the laborious but satisfying work of gutting, butchering and hauling out.
It was one thing to follow the dog, reach the moose and take down the calf – that was hard enough. It was something else to bring such a weight of meat out of the wilderness – that required serious team work and stamina.
For millennia, moose meat has been an important part of the Nordic diet, and this healthy meat now occupies – as it did in the Stone Age and in Viking times – an honourable place among the ingredients of Scandinavian cuisine.
After the hunt, the ProTeam members discussed Härkila’s new AXIS camouflage pattern. One observation was that the pattern merges so well with the Swedish terrain that it is a good idea to wear signal colours on a hunting vest or cap in situations where hunters need to be able to see each other.
Photo: Nikolaj Trier, Kristina Egholm Larsen
Text: Thomas Lindy Nissen
Blaiken, Sweden, October 2017