I have been always wondering what the main reason of hunters’ satisfaction was and always got the answer: something bigger than the trophy size or the weight of the meat. These things are important, no doubt, but there has to be something immaterial to make a hunt really great. An experience of a close contact with the nature and its beauty, a physical effort put into the hunt. And probably many other factors that finally affect a sensation the shot brings. Twice in my life have I met people who promoted their hunts rather pointing at the quality of the experience than the quality of the trophy itself, and that regardless of the fact, that a chance for the trophy was good. One of them was a Swede, Johan Person, who invited me to a moose hunt in Jämtland. He did not promise a bull with big antlers, but the adventure was supposed to be among the best there is. Time has proven how right he was… He did not promise a bull with big antlers, but the adventure was supposed to be among the best there is.
I grew up reading these inspiring novels by Curwood, Cooper and London. Tales of hunting in a raw land far from civilisation. How amazed was I to see that such a place existed in Europe! Johan’s company, Fjelljakt, provided hunts on 15 thousand hectare private land far from public road, railways and almost uninhabited if not for a magnificent old hunting villa and a couple of supporting houses. This opportunity was a dream come true.
I arrived at Medstugan late in the evening on a misty autumn day. The strategy of the hunt was plain – let the brilliant dog find moose and hold it long enough with persistent barking to make a stalk possible. The hunter’s task was to approach as close as it gets to make the shot. Easier said than done. For two days we were walking through the mountains and moors blessed with incredible sights but unlucky to find moose. Plenty of fresh signs of their presence though.
The very last day turned out to be different. It was colder and frostier than on previous days. Johan led the way North. We left the ATV on a narrow path among birch trees and the quest resumed. Snöa, my friend’s brilliant Jämthund, started to act weird. She sat down with her nose held high towards the thick birch forest. She spotted game – said Johan – but that might be just the reindeer we saw on the way. But the dog-genius knew her business.
Convincingly she pointed forward and Johan finally agreed to let her off the leash. Not even five minutes passed when we heard the barking – she got her prey. Now it was our turn to sneak as quietly as possible. The job wasn’t easy, dry twigs laying on the ground made a terrible cracking noise every time a careless foot stepped over it.
We made a big circle to have the wind in our favour. Now we were close, according to the GPS not farther than 50 meters. There were two, maybe three moose, but we could not see them. We had to come closer. We listened to Snöa’s voice – approached when she was loud and stopped when she got silent. Suddenly one of the beasts ran away – a nice bull. But the dog kept barking – the cow remained in the bush. If there was a desire in my heart to get a trophy moose at the beginning it did not matter anymore – I was completely lost in the hunt.
The cow was moving slowly. There’s an open ground on the other side – said Johan – if she gets there, she’s lost. This was the very last attempt. We crawled to a top of a small hill and saw the moose’s head pointed toward the barking dog. With the Leica Magnus set on the lowest magnification I was able to put the dot in front of the chest. The beast never heard the shot. Suddenly everything turned silent.
I took a look at my watch – more than two hours had passed while we were stalking this moose. And now there was very little time for us to catch the plane back home!
A long way home was a great opportunity to think about this amazing experience once again. Jämtland seemed to be raw and harsh at first glance. It has proven otherwise – I was returning somehow richer, there was a treasure in my heart, a memory of a very unique experience. Johan was right – that was something of much higher value than any trophy.
More info: www.fjelljakt.se