The moose, the King of the Forest, is Sweden's largest game animal and moose hunting is the highlight of the year for many Swedish hunters. Moose hunting is filled with traditions, warmth and inter-generational companionship. Moose hunting consists of waiting, moving and the chance of sudden contact with one of our most majestic mammals.
The countryside is changeable with thick pine forests that smell of sap melting into vast landscapes with views over open lakes and rivers. Water babbles in the streams. Excitement can be felt in the cold morning air. Here you will find nature and dog-loving hunters who love nothing more than to hear the bark of a dog following a fresh scent. Moose hunting is the highlight of the hunting year and the hunting team is well prepared. Everyone is gathered, old and young, family and friends, and the plan is to hunt moose with dogs – Swedish elkhounds to be precise. The leader of the hunt gathers everyone around, both the dog handlers and those who will be manning the stands, and goes though the safety regulations and goals for the day.
“We can take two bulls and unlimited calves. Only shoot in permitted directions and make sure you all have a high-visibility band on your hat or something similar. The first area we are covering has several reported sightings lately.”
And we are finally on our way. We listen carefully to the action on the radios. One of the dog handlers finds a fresh bedding spot. Fresh tracks and droppings are sighted. Moose often travel through forested areas, they seek shelter in the woods and copses. Hunting moose is a challenge as is any hunting; it involves dogs, equipment and a structured plan. In the forests of Värmland, cunning and quiet movement are important skills when trying to find the best conditions for a successful hunt. Sometimes the wind turns so you have to check this and other details carefully and often. Clothing should be silent and colours should discreetly melt into the surrounding countryside. We are hunting in a large forested area, and some of us have long distances to cover to get to the stands. I am helping a first-timer by sitting in as a mentor for today’s hunt. We see a salt lick a little distance off and small birds are flying around the stand. Finally we hear the distinct bark of a dog in the not-too-far-off distance and we hear on the radio:
“Several moose on the move!”
Frozen fingers and stiff joints are instinctively and instantly converted into highly-functional tools. The animals appear right in front of our stand and we take the safety off our guns. Seconds later a moose is down, a fantastic little bull. The shooter is happy and the team is even happier as all of us together have managed to get a good result. This is what hunting is all about; cooperation, well-trained dogs who do their job and a fantastic time had by all out in the fresh air. When everyone meets up around the campfire, the shooter is given a little branch to put in his hat. It is his first moose and he can’t stop smiling. Now all that is left to do is to roll up our sleeves and take care of the game.