Over a year ago Browning gave my Team and me the trust to organize 5 European Hunts. We selected together different types of hunts in Europe. Today I am here to talk to you about Sweden and its beautiful hunting areas.
Mooses but not only…
Sweden is bordered by Norway on the west and Finland on the east and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by Bridge-tunnel across the Oresund. At 450.000 square kilometers Sweden is the Third largest country in the European Union by area. Total population of 9.9 million with over 300 thousand hunters. An interesting fact is that it has a very low population density of only 21 inhabitants per square kilometer. Sweden offers a lot of birds and game hunting. Wing shooting covers wood, willow and hazel grouse, ptarmigan, black grouse cock, geese and duck. For the game hunters roebuck, Moose , reindeer , red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, European bison, and beaver.
With Browning we decided to organize an Elk (Moose) hunt with a trained elk dog. For this I had to contact my Father’s long friend Marcus Johansson Chief of Hunting at www.exclusivehunting.se/en. After having made first contact and explained my project he suggested to hunt in the area of Åre/Östersund in the middle of Sweden, once I had seen the area on Google maps I was trilled. Departure 23rd of November, for a week stay.
Now it was time to prepare clothing, select the weapon and ammo to bring with me. Considering that day time temperature were going to be in around 3-0 Celsius and at nighttime well bellow -5 Celsius choosing the appropriate clothing was a must.
For this hunt I had selected Browning XPO light loden for pants since they were watertight, windproof and with a breathable membrane. Jacket was an XPO light extra with a hood that was packed inside but was there in case of strong snow or winds. This particular model has a camo affect that suited the hunting conditions at that time of the year. My under layer was made of the following Browning products upland hunter shirt and a feather light jacket.
For this hunt and for the other 4 remaining hunts Browning had sent me a “Maral 5 Monte Carlo” in 30-06 with 22inch barrel length. Winchester Power Max Bonded in 180 gr rounds. For this trip having spoken with Marcus I had zeroed the Maral at 100 meters.
Back to basics
Once arrived at Åre/Östersund Marcus was waiting for the Team and me at the airport. We traveled north for about two hours on ice roads. It was amazing to see how over there they drive at the same speed as other European cities but the roads are pure ice. They use special tires with steel spikes and thanks to them and four wheel drive vehicles its almost like being on dry roads. Just that, on his own was an experience. Arrived at the cabin, we unloaded all our food and equipment. I really enjoyed having a forced break. No Wi-Fi, no phone lines. The Cabin, the dogs, nature and us.
Every day we got up before sunrise we had a quick breakfast, prepared some lunch to take with us and then left for our hunting day.
All our dogs had Gps trackers so we could follow them. Their job was to find the Moose and try to bring them around towards us. In the mean time we were following them. During our hunting day the dogs could go as far a 10-kilometers and we could be almost the same distance form the cabin. This gave us the opportunity to view some exiting sceneries and landscapes. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about the Moose by asking a thousand questions at once to Marcus. Here is what I have learned.
Few information about Mooses
The “alces alces”, is the largest species in the deer family. Moose are distinguished by the broad, flat (orpalmate) antlers of the males; other members of the family have antlers with a dendritic configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal forests and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of the northern Hemisphere in the temperate subarctic climate. Currently, most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England, Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia and Russia. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. Moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears. Unlike most other deer species, moose are solitary animals and do not form herds. Although generally slow moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled.
The above is the synthesis of 3 days of questions asking while hunting. Maybe, that is also the reason why we where not so lucky in those days. My voice must have echoed across Sweden. Those days were great. Every evening when we returned to the Cabin we gathered some wood. We, really, had it ready in a cabin close by. Some was brought to the Cabin so we could heat it up. Once the stove got hot we could prepare some food. Some more wood went to another cabin where we had a Sauna. Every couple of evening we had a sauna/shower so we could use the hot water generated by it to wash our self and we rinsed in the frozen river just outside. What a great way to finish our hunting day.
Hours where passing like minutes and our hunting time was starting to run out. On the last hunting morning, when we looked out side, we were all shocked. “ Were is the snow gone?” During that night something very unusual happened. Temperatures started rising up to 10 Celsius. In the space of 8 hours the ice started melting. That was the reason why when we looked out side the window there was no snow and it looked like as if we where in a different area. Marcus was not alarmed by this situation and he was very positive. He believed that the Moose would start moving now, they would try to head back to higher grounds. Well he was right…
“Bubby was pushing the Moose toward my direction”
On the last day like every great story after a long hike to higher ground our dog named “BUBBY” was at about 3.5 Km away from us. He started moving slowly in circles. Marcus radioed me, telling me to start making my way to Bubby. Marcus was not far from me and he would to make his way there to. I started looking more regularly on the Gps while increasing my pace towards Bubby. All of a sudden the tracks on the Gps were showing that Bubby was pushing the Moose toward my direction and at that moment I loaded the Maral. There was a lot of vegetation and I knew that it was going to be a short distance shot so I brought back the scope at 2 magnifications. I was ready, tense; I could feel my hart pumping more and more after every stride. Distance was getting shorter until I could hear Bubby barking behind the Moose. Marcus was guiding me on the radio and had given me permission to take the shot. GPS was saying just over 200 meters and in front of me. I arrived in an opening so I decided to use a broken tree as a rest point and get ready to see my first Moose come out in the open.
That was my only chance to succeed. Bubby did some great work and there it was behind the Moose. Estimated 75 meters away. Safety was off, fingers where cold but active, hart was pumping hard and eyes where sweeting. The moose was in focus; I was aiming just high in the triangle. Pressure was on the trigger and as every shoot should be: “surprising”. The Moose was down with a clean take. Bubby was in top of him pulling his coat off. I quickly reloaded and put the Maral back in safety. I waited no more that 2 minutes and then I made my way to the animal. By the time I got close to him Bubby had given him a great haircut.
Soon after Marcus had arrived. He was very tired but happy to see me with a big smile.
Now Bubby was back on the lead. My Moose was ready to be brought back to the Cabin but how? Marcus and I dragged the Moose to and old track at about 1.5 km away. Then we headed back to the Cabin collect the quad and small trailer. Sweden by night, On a quad going throw frozen rivers and forests. Marcus knew exactly the way. It was a super feeling. By the time we got back to Cabin food was ready and the sauna was hot. Beers where left out since it was 0 Celsius and they where frozen. We finished our last day with lots of joy and success. To celebrate we had Italian Pasta in Swedish style. While, I was repeating, my eventful day to the rest of the team.
The next morning we had to pack. What a sad moment. When I was starting to feel at home, its always time to leave again. On our way back to Åre/Östersund I reconised a familiar sound. Shortly after I realized that it was my mobile phone ringing. That was the end. Back to civilization and normality.