• Sweden edition
 
Northern Dispatches
Elk hunting in Sweden: one Englishman's tale

Elk hunting in Sweden: one Englishman's tale

Published: 05 Dec 2013 08:38 GMT+01:00
Updated: 05 Dec 2013 08:38 GMT+01:00

In his latest bid to embrace life in Sweden's far north, former Londoner Paul Connolly joins his first-ever elk hunt, only to find that the search for the king of the forest has left him with a splitting headache.

The elk tower shook as Jens sprang to his feet, grabbed his rifle and prepared to shoot. I was rousted from my snooze and also rose to my feet, but far too quickly. I banged my head on the roof of the tower and, reeling from the impact, knocked over my cup of coffee and the little foldable table it had been sitting on.

“Ah, damn it!” I shouted, although I’m pretty certain my language was of a rather more industrial nature. I also nearly knocked Jens off his feet, as I stumbled around the enclosed space like a bear that had just been hit by a tranquilizer dart.

“Sssh, pucko”, Jens muttered (or that’s what it sounded like to my still-untrained ears).

I finally stopped pin-balling around the swaying structure and stabilized myself. Jens had the rifle up to his shoulder and was looking out onto the edge of the clearing. There was a dog barking and the sound of undergrowth being trampled by something very heavy. My first-ever elk hunt was finally going to see some action.

SEE ALSO: Paul Connolly's latest Striking a Chord music column

It had been a slow, but very early start. I’ve never been a morning person, but early mornings in autumn in northern Sweden are quite wondrous. The drive to my friend Låge’s at 6.30am through a misty, frosty landscape was so utterly lovely that I drove slowly in order to properly savour it.

I was, of course, late to the meet-up at the abattoir and I stood out like a Quaker at an orgy. There they were in rough-and-ready hunting clothes, stained and shined by years of tracking, bush-trawling and butchering and there was me in my pristine Klim jacket and jeans, looking about as hunter-ish as Liberace. They should have hated me. But, after a short period of frostiness, they thawed almost completely.

Låge and I were allocated an elk tower and off we went. It was a gorgeous morning and as we sat in the stand sipping our coffee and nibbling at sandwiches in the middle of a clearing in the woods, I totally understood the attraction.

“Of course, it is better to see a moose but this is a great excuse to get out into nature at a time of year when there’s not much going on,” said Låge. Låge is a gentle man but a northern man. He does not understand the concerns of animal rights advocates. “We have many moose, so many that they cause lots of car accidents. Hunting is a great way to keep their numbers down. And we don’t just kill them for fun. We eat the moose and use the hide so nothing is wasted.”

Each hunting group is allocated a certain number of animals they can kill each hunting season (usually September/October). Låge’s group was allocated six adults and six calves.

“We still have four calves from our allocation - we have not seen many calves this season. I think there is a bear in the area. There are more and more bears in this area as they follow the reindeer as they migrate down from the mountains in the winter and some bears stay. I still have not seen a bear but I am told that there are more around here now.”

SEE ALSO: Swedish hunter fells massive albino elk 

In Sweden's far north, where distances between towns are huge and pubs are rare, hunting also offers a social outlet. After a fruitless but lovely morning chewing the fat and drinking coffee in the wilderness we met up for lunch with the rest of the group over a small, intense fire. The crack was mighty. They may not have shot anything but, over the half-hour break, the group did not stop laughing. So much for dour northerners.

For the afternoon session I went back out with Jens, a farming machinery mechanic with a permanent wad of snus lodged in his top lip. “I love to hunt. I love the chase, the nature and even the kill. But it’s the time I spend with my friends that I value most. I don’t get to see them too much otherwise. Life takes over.” He stopped and smiled. “You know, I haven’t even seen a moose this season, never mind shot one!”

An hour later, Jens, ignoring the English clown stumbling around next to him, fixed his sights on the horse-sized calf that had trotted into the clearing 30 metres from us, startled by the barking of the group’s hunt dog. He fired just the once and the calf collapsed, killed instantly by a shot to the head. Jens turned to me and laughed. “You brought me luck! You must come out again!”

DON't MISS: Sweden's elk-hunting pastor (WARNING for graphic content)

Paul Connolly

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Advertisement:
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

718
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com