Many hunt for the experience, to get out into the wilderness. But others hunt for the delicious meat it gives them. A combination of meaningful recreation and the chance to bring home some really good food makes hunting a fantastic pastime.
The fire casts long shadows against the walls in the little log cabin. We are offered some excellent hot coffee to help us wake up on this dark morning.
“It has rained a little in the night, but it is going to be a good day for hunting. There is a lot of game in the area, including wild boar and fellow deer but today we are hunting roe deer. You may also hunt foxes and hares if you get the chance. If we have time, later this afternoon we will regroup and go duckshooting at a small lake a little further away”, our guide for the day tells us.
We are on hunting grounds in Sörmland, Sweden, surrounded by rolling hills. Both forested areas and newly ploughed fields stretch out before us. Everyone is here for small game hunting. Expectations are almost tangible in the fresh autumn air, October is an incredibly beautiful month. One of the dog handlers has just released his dog, a German spaniel. It picks up a scent almost at once. Hunting with a trained flushing dog is an exciting experience. During the hunt, the dog flushes the game for anything between five minutes and several hours. The idea is to not stress the game too much so that it remains in the same area and moves at a quiet and steady pace. Suddenly I hear branches cracking behind me, and an animal appears in front of the stand. No dogs have flushed it out, it is just moving through the forest of its own accord. It may have been disturbed by the dogs or hunters, but it seems to be coming from the wrong direction. I am sure that it is a roe deer, but it is in fact a fellow deer, a lone stag, that appears. I lower my gun. Today we are hunting roe deer and it is also forbidden to shoot a fellow deer with a class-one firearm.
The dogs can be heard working on the other side of the forest and soon a shot rings out. It is a hunter on a small trail that managed to get a young female roe deer.
"I took the safety catch off, things happened slowly so it felt safe and controlled when I pulled the trigger. What an amazing feeling, a fallen deer that will give me a great saddle of venison,” says the happy shooter – a new, female hunter.
Today we are lucky as the sun is shining between the tops of the trees. The temperature stays comfortable even for those on the stands and with the dogs hard at work there is something happening all the time. The dogs are working well and the result of the morning’s hunt is the young roe deer as well as a smaller male. Everyone shares their sightings and observations with each other and there are several that have seen both fellow deer and foxes. After lunch we make our way to the small lake the guide was telling us about earlier. Several new dog owners arrive with their dogs. It is an exciting duck hunt, they fly both high and low and challenge our skills to the maximum. The fallen ducks are retrieved by the skilful retriever dogs. Duck shooting is very popular in the autumn months.