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Sweden

Sweden is one of our near neighbours but little is known of their hunting heritage and traditions, possibly because language differences have precluded the many websites on the subject from being fully understood. Our view of the Swedes is similarly influenced by many preconceptions based on national stereotyping and similar, so now is a good time to set the record straight! 

Sweden is a fellow member of the EU so your European Firearms Pass will be very useful when travelling with firearms. They too have retained their own currency and perhaps more importantly, the Country has managed to preserve it’s own values and national identity too, possibly because it’s modest population of some 9 million souls is mostly located in the larger cities and urban conurbations, leaving the rest of the Country relatively unpopulated and therefore untouched and in pristine condition. 

The Northern third of Sweden falls within the Arctic Circle and is known as Swedish Lapland which covers an area roughly the size of England with a total population of less than half a million. These include the nomadic Sami peoples who herd Reindeer cross the region in much the same way as they have for generations, although today modern vehicles help the process! 

In terms of hunting, Sweden is a sportsman’s dream with Moose, Bear, Wolves and Beavers available, subject to permit, as well as Roe Deer and Foxes. Bear and Wolf hunting is very specialist and as such is not something which is widely available commercially although Sweden’s 250,000 registered Hunters take approx 100,000 Moose each year, all of which is managed and accounted for in order to preserve breeding stocks for the future. 

Moose hunting is generally conducted in teams when dog handlers can hunt 2:1 with guests as their animals work the dense forests for scent and tracks to follow. Meanwhile the remainder of the party is arranged on stands, known as ‘posting’ in order to try for any animals which break cover to escape. It is all very well organised with each member of the team being provided with maps and transmitters in order to listen to the progress and communicate with the other hunters as necessary. A thorough pre-hunt briefing takes place, guns are positioned and the dogs loosed when those following them use GPS to keep track of the hounds as they do their job. 

Once a moose has been spotted, the dog will commence barking in order to alert his handler to the location and to also confuse the moose in order to attempt to get it to stand. In theory the moose believes the dog to be some sort of wolf and it’s constant barking distracts it allowing the guns to close in. With such a huge mammal and such dense forests, this isn’t as easy as perhaps it sounds which is why additional guns are positioned in case the moose should make a break for it. When you see such a creature running silently through the forests at speeds of up to 60kph, then you realise why the teamwork and strategy is needed as this is hunting at it’s purest, man working in partnership with hid dog in order to put food on the table – and it helps that the trophies are more than impressive too! 

Bird Hunting is also very popular in Sweden when Pointers or Finish Spitz barking dogs are used to actively track ad hunt individual birds. Forget Game Shooting in the UK, if this is your expectation of Sweden then you are mistaken as the guide and his dog work tirelessly bisecting the forest for scent and tracks in order to spot Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Hazel Grouse and Woodcock. Once a bird has been spotted, the dog will either point or bark to identify the location at which point the hunters need to stalk in cautiously in order to take a shot. This is very difficult and yet great fun, especially as Sweden’s dog handlers and guides take great personal pride in explaining and involving guests in every aspect of the hunt. 

Although the whole Country is significant in size and remains densely forested throughout, access to the hunting grounds is superb, mostly as a result of the forestry activity across the whole of Sweden. Certainly visitors are likely to come across evidence of the timber industry but it doesn’t detract from the natural beauty of the place.

Finally, and possibly most importantly let me share my thoughts on the people of Sweden too. Firstly let me acknowledge that as a Hunting Agent and publisher of Hunting and Shooting News, I appreciate that many of the Outfitters and Guides that I meet want to make as positive an impression as possible, but when staff at the airport, personnel involved in public transport, ticket collectors on the train network and staff working in fast food outlets are all equally polite and friendly then it starts to tell you something about the culture and it’s values. 

We found the Swedish people to be fun, friendly and genuinely enthusiastic about their country and the sporting and leisure activities available. The hunting was amazing and while the author has a prejudice towards wilderness regions, the scenery and infrastructure is beyond description, such is the impression it made on us. I’ve no idea why I’ve never visited Sweden before and to summarise this, let me now say that Sweden has offered be the best hunting experience of my life – quite a statement from someone who has travelled as far and wide as I have! 

Roo Ellis, October 2011