Heavenly moose hunt

Swedish dog owner Emil Lennartsson notices on the GPS display that both his dogs are in motion. They have taken up scents from moose. From two directions, they approach the point in this protected forest area where he and Danish hunter Jens Kjaer Knudsen are located. Even though the dogs have not yet stopped the moose, it is possible that a running moose will pass the guns, providing the chance of a shot.

One dog is handled by Emil, while the other is handled by his father, Kjell Lennartsson. The father is hunting with another Danish hunter, Brian Lisborg, in another part of the forest. Those two are well over two kilometres away from Emil and Jens, but the dogs are much closer, and are both coming in this direction.

Jens and Emil are likely to be in the eye of the storm in a few minutes. This only becomes more obvious when Emil lifts his eyes, looks directly at Jens, and whispers: “Now, please get ready.”

Short distance

Using map readings combined with the information he received from the GPS, Emil has carefully selected the place where he and Jens are waiting. It seems that he has chosen the right place. The GPS tells us that the dog closest to the position will pass right in front of them. Unfortunately, the moose, when it reaches the position of the backyard, chooses to follow a small plateau further down. Even though there are no more than 50 metres between moose and hunters, it is impossible to achieve visual contact with their quarry in the dense forest.

The hunt took place in some of Sweden’s most beautiful wilderness

In spite of the short distance, there is no sonic indication of the presence of moose and dog. Only the information on the GPS display tells us that hundreds of kilograms of animal have passed by. It’s impressive that the beast can move so stealthily, but at the same time, highly frustrating.

Nevertheless, Emil’s judgement in picking this spot was impeccable. Not least because the area they are hunting is 20,000 hectares. An association of Sami owns the area. They have 70 licenses to shoot individual moose – 35 for adult animals and 35 for calves.

Last chance

Emil switches thoughtfully between the GPS display’s digital information readout and his practical plan based on the density of the forest. Then he bends down, and draws a map of the immediate surroundings. The map is located on a stone between Jens and himself. “What do we do now? We’ve got one more chance,” he whispers, while Jens tries to interpret the map to work out their next move. Emil puts his finger to the map, lifts his eyes and looks at Jens. Then he says: “Let’s move to a better position, let’s move on. I think this is where it happens.” He gestures to a point on the map.

A moose bull might be huge, but it can appear close by without having made the slightest sound

A few minutes later, they make it to their new position. The other dog and thus, theoretically, the moose, now show on the GPS as being a few hundred metres from them.

At this post, they have just as little a view as they used to have. With an open view up to about 50 metres – that’s equivalent to half a football pitch – at most in any direction, they will need to be lucky – and quick.

With such a small overview of the 40,000 football pitches’ worth of hunting area, one might think they had no hope at all. It is difficult to understand what makes this place better than the previous one. Despite the fact that Emil is in his early 20s, he has taken many moose with his dogs, and seems to have an innate sense for what works. Unfortunately, when reading the GPS again, he sees that the other moose – just like the first – has chosen a route further down the forest. The chance seems wasted. All that work, all the planning, all the fine dog handling and all the hours could be for nothing. It is hard to handle.

You can see half a mind to abandon the hunt in the faces of Jens and Emil. That is, until they notice that they’ve not taken into account one of the very basic elements of the hunt. The element that makes hunting what it is, the element that ensures that unforeseen outcomes exist, the element hunters worldwide seek or at least trust in: luck. This element is essential on this kind of hunt, as much as it is in any hunting form. Success demands extraordinary dogs, good hunting grounds and excellent shooting skills. It takes knowledge to get the benefits of the terrain and understand the behaviour of wildlife, and still a certain amount of luck is needed – a hefty dose of which is now coming to the hunters.

Jens has his eyes directed at his GPS when he hears a breaking noise of a branch. A black figure in motion, a glimpse of antler between the branches – Jens raises the barrel. As the moose and dog passed below, this bull had been pushed on, with the hunters unaware. It is only 20 metres away, oblivious to the presence of hunters and heading into a gap between the tree trunks just in front of Jens. In the second the Danish hunter shoulders the rifle, the nine-pointer of a bull realises the forest is not as empty as expected. It picks up speed, but holds its direction. Jens is, despite the fact that moose fever is not far away, calm and unperturbed. He follows the shadow in the bush, waiting for the right time – then he touches off the trigger.

A moose hunt is a social experience, and it took a team of four men to drag the bull out

The bull shows a perfect hit from Jens’s .338. It takes a short run in an arc around Jens and Emil before it falls in the blueberry bush under an old spruce. Accident has turned to happiness, misfortune to luck, down to up. But we’re not done yet. The difficulty of the hunt has been replaced by some even harder work. The moose has to be handled by two men. Its big stomach must be taken out with arms that seem too short for the job, and the meat must be salvaged.

Before embarking on all this, Emil stokes a small fire. Jens pulls some sausages out of his backpack and puts the water and cookware over the fire. Swedish moose hunts are unpredictable, physically challenging, and one of the best outdoor experiences you can have. As the animal has been shot in impassable protected forest, the moose cannot be pulled out with a vehicle. It must be either stored in carriers or extracted with helicopter assistance. Jens chooses the last one.

While Emil calls for the ‘air gondola’, Kjell and Brian turn up. Their happy faces underline that a moose hunt, like most other hunting, involves individual challenge but also common personal achievement. The bull has to be pulled 30 metres up to a point where the helicopter can get access through the tall trees. The job is just managed by the four men – certainly not a job for two.

On high

With the cable finally on the forest floor, the boys have to act quickly to secure the bull

The helicopter slides into position over the small opening between the swaying treetops. The pilot flings a cable as thick as a man’s arm to the ground. Emil succeeds in grabbing the cable, and the four must work fast while all the time remaining aware of the situation. Attaching a cable around the neck of a heavy moose while the pilot tries to hold the helicopter in place can be a risky manoeuvre. If the cable hits a person, or clips someone that’s in the wrong place at the wrong time in some way, the outcome could be grim.

The hunting companions work fast and as a team. It takes just 30 seconds to get the loop on the bull, get it tightened and signalled to the pilot to rise.

Jens’s neck is bent backwards and his eyes fasten on the floating moose overhead as it rapidly becomes smaller and smaller. As the moose eases over the trees and disappears behind the foliage, Jens drops his gaze again. In those minutes, he seems to understand that the day has been something special – a day that has been frustrating, amazing and heavenly in more than one way.

Want to do this hunt?

The hunt – which was conducted by the The Eight Seasons company (De Åtta Årstiderna) – was part of a Härkila Pro Team tour. On the hunt, the hunting clothes manufacturer tested products and new ideas. The Eight Seasons is a Sami company that offers adventure tourism in nature. In addition to various types of hunting, they have conference facilities, snowmobiling in the mountains, guided hikes and fishing on the program.

The area is not far from the ski resort of Åre. In many of the open areas in the protected forest, you get a beautiful view of the impressive mountains of Jämtland. If you want to try a moose hunt with dogs in one of Sweden’s most beautiful and wildest scenery, please get in touch with Daniel Persson using the following contact details:

Phone: +46 070-216 35 09
Email: info@attaarstiderna.se
Website: www.attaarstiderna.se

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