Elk hunters risk injury in Sweden’s woods

Sweden’s vast annual elk hunt spells danger not just for the majestic animals but also for hunters, with crumbling towers and over-tiredness just two of the season’s perils.

Elk hunters risk injury in Sweden’s woods
Hunter Ingela Olsson loads her rifle at sunrise in Norrbölla, northern Sweden. File photo: Gunnar Lundmark/SvD/Scanpix

As hundreds of thousands of hunters head for the forests of Sweden, insurance firm If expects around 100 people to hurt themselves so badly that they qualify for compensation payouts.

“Cuts, crushes and fractures are the most common injuries,” said If spokesman Matts René. 

“A lot of hunting takes place on uncleared terrain where there’s plenty to stumble on.”

Falls from dilapidated hunting towers are also commonplace.

“Hunting towers can be in varying condition. We’ve had cases where people have gone through the floor three metres up in the air,” said René.

SEE ALSO: Elk or moose?

Bites from hunting dogs and gunshot-induced hearing loss were also recurring injuries, he said.

As for the number of hunters who inadvertently cut themselves, Hans Geibrink from the Swedish hunting association said he wasn’t surprised.

“People maybe aren’t sufficiently accustomed to using knives, or maybe it’s dark and they’re tired,” he said.

Deaths among hunters are fortunately quite rare; the number of hunting-related deaths has dropped since Sweden introduced a hunting-licence test in the 1980s.

On September 1st, however, the first day of the hunt in northern Sweden, a stray shot killed a hunter near Kristineberg, 800 kilometres north of Stockholm.

Hunting association statistics show that the number of deaths each year generally ranges from none to two.

“Our goal is for it to be zero,” said Geibrink.

“But considering how many hunters are out there and the number of shots that are fired, the Swedish hunt is safe.”

Hunting season in the south of the country begins on the second Monday in October.

Sweden has almost 300,000 registered hunters. 

SEE ALSO: Drunken elk rescued from Swede's apple tree

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