We have just had the return trip of a swap hunt with some Swedish friends and all I can say is WOW!!!
We had the guys over last February on the Muntjac and booked up to do the return visit this January so last Sunday Andy, Stuart (Ezzy 6.5) and myself found ourselves travelling to Sweden.
Our friends had told us about the estate where two of them were the gamekeepers and it has some impressive stats 15000 hectares plus 1000 hectares of lakes, they cull 800+ Fallow, 70+ Moose every year also they have a good population of Wild boar, Red deer and some Roe deer.
Even after these impressive stats we did not really know what to expect.
We were collected from the airport and travelled to one of the lodgeís where they house the hunters. Stu was not very optimistic on the way thinking we would have some cold basic shack to stay in, he couldnít have been more wrong what a place, great start.
The guys had decided we would concentrate on the Moose as none of us had ever shot one before.
The method to be used was to split up and hunt over moose dogs, they way this works for those who donít know is the dog has a GPS collar the hunter has a receiver. The dog is released and in our case with the very enthusiastic Kurgan goís flying off into the forest at 100mph. The idea is he finds a Moose and if the Moose stands still he will start to bark and we will stalk in to try and get a shot if itís a suitable animal.
Per and Kurgan
Thatís the theory but we had a problem the temperature was -10 and the ground with some snow was so crunchy the final approaches were going to be difficult and due to the dense forest you had to be real close unless very lucky to catch them in more open areas.
Iíll tell my account and leave the others to tell there own.
Monday morning after a big breakfast I headed off with Per one of the guys who came to England he is the head keeper on the estate. We got deep into the forest and he prepared the dog Kurgan what a dog I have never seen such enthusiasm and I own spaniels.
I heard stories of hunters hunting this method taking days to find a Moose but within 5 minutes Kurgan was barking, we gave him a while to settle to make sure the Moose was going to stand and not run and then began to stalk. We hadnít gone far when Per spotted another moose then another two we think it was a young bull and a cow and calf but we were only getting slight glimpses through the thick forest.
Per said we could shoot the young bull or the calf but had to get closer to make a positive ID which we didnít manage they must have heard us and just melted away.
All this time Kurgan was still very vocal so we returned our attention back to him and started a very long cat and mouse game which lasted probably five hours and involved us getting within 50-100 yards of the Moose five of six times but every time they were in dense cover and we could not get a shot before they finally heard us and moved off again. Every time they would run for a mile or two before Kurgan started to bark again, frustrating but incredibly exciting sport.
Eventually we decided enough was enough and headed for lunch where the others were waiting. Lunch was in the forest in a little open hut with a great wood BBQ where we all had plenty of hot dogs and three excited English hunters telling of their experiences from the mornings sport. We had seen maybe 10-13 Moose between us but no one managed a shot.
Hot dog bar
In the afternoon daylight was short so we had a mini drive about an hour long. We were placed at various seats and a couple of beaters and dogs went into a block of forestry. I was out of luck seeing three Fallow two falling to my neighbour and one run past me where it wasnít safe to shoot. Andy was greedy on this little drive and shot three of the five Fallow shot .
High seat view for driven hunt
After the drive it was back to the lodge and a shower a great dinner and a few beers before bed.
Tuesday was the same idea but with slightly better conditions a light fall of snow and not quite as cold softened the ground a bit but still far from great.
I was out with Per and Kurgan again, after finding the fresh tracks of a cow and calf in the snow Kurgan was released and shot off with the same enthusiasm despite his long day yesterday. He wasnít quite as quick today as it took him about 10-15 minutes before he found the moose.
We took a very long stalk to get around and into the wind through a very thick young plantation eventually getting to within 30 yards of the moose we could see Kurgan barking like a dog possessed but could we see the moose could we f**k. We tried to edge closer but that was it we heard it crash away.
We had another three hours following Kurgan and the Moose before he finally stood again and again we stalked and climbed in through a huge rock covered area some of the rocks as big as a small house and again got within 50 yards but again couldnít see the Moose and again trying to get closer was our down fall.
We met for ďhot dogs in the forestĒ again everyone had made contact with Moose but no luck.
We then had another mini drive where the lads saw some huge Fallow bucks and three Moose broke past Per and he shot a calf which caused a bit of p*ss taking as he was the host.
Back to the lodge for a great evening again and an offer to stalk feeding sites for wild boar under the moon which believe it or not we declined opting for a few beers in the warm and a good night sleep ready for the last day.
Wednesday morning I was out with Jonas and another dog, we made contact with game within 30 minutes but as it came crashing towards us we realised it was red spiker which we didnít shoot as it would encourage the dog to chase deer not Moose. After Jonas dived on the dog we headed through the forest before releasing the dog again. He was onto something again within minutes but following them for about a mile in the wrong direction heading close to the border, then as we were watching the Gps they turned and headed back our way, we legged in for a clearing in the dense trees but were still short of it when three Moose came crashing through very close to us. As they passed we ran to the clearing just in time to see a Moose arse disappear over the next hill. Bugger!!!! Getting closer though.
The Moose never stopped for miles and made it over the boundary.
Jonas & dog
This morning five dogs had been released for three hunters so we then headed to where Kurgan and his hander were holding a Moose at bay to arrive five minutes too late as some joggers ran past scaring the Moose away (see it even happens in the wilds of Sweden)
After another quick hot dog lunch I was off again with another dog and Handler Daniel a young man in years but not in hunting experience with his young dog.
We parked on the edge of a huge area of clear feel and made our way across it until we got to the forest edge he then released the dog and she being a different breed to Kurgan (so Iím told) ambled off in no hurry. As we watched on the Gps she was only 250 yards into the forest when she barked for a few seconds the stopped , they were on the move then they broke cover right by us unfortunately the cow was covering the calf and they ran past us about 100 yards away. They ran away but as we watched the dogs progress on the Gps it became obvious they were heading in a big circle behind us so we ran for a huge rocky hill in the middle of the clearing trying not to break my neck jumping small streams, rocks and bogs.
As we got o the top of the hill the Moose were running through the edge of the trees at about 130 yards, they hesitated just for a second giving me a chance of a quick off hand shot which I took with the Blaser 30.06 sending the 200 grain bullet on its way, as the moose were angled away slightly I had to take a line through the chest and the bullet entered a bit far back but exiting perfectly through the opposite shoulder and the calf stumbled for 20 yards before collapsing.
By the time we got across the clear fell the dog had removed lots of hair and one ear off the calf which by all accounts is her trade mark. Within a few minutes Daniel had a phone call with his father who had had another calf with Stuart and Andy had a half chance but unfortunately didnít manage to take it, I will let him tell the story if he wants to.
Making sure its dead
We headed to the larder and collected the trailer luckily we only had a fifty yard drag to where we could load the calf but we werenít so lucky with Stuarts having a 700 yard drag over some of the roughest terrain Iíve ever had the pleasure of falling over in. We had four of us on the rope and our two Swedish friends obviously much fitter than us giving us a rest every now and then with Stuart doing his best impression of Sid the sloth of the ice age films lying on his back on a huge rock gasping for air I of course was fine.
We loaded it eventually and returned to the larder for a hug and a back slap from Per which Iím still recovering from.
We had to move out of our accommodation as Per had a full blown driven day on Friday and had to give them chance to clean it, we went to a ďsmallĒ lodge only five bedrooms right out in the middle of the forest but again complete luxury Iíve never been in houses as warm as these toasty.
We had our last evenings dinner at Perís house with his wonderful family which was a fine spread and a unhealthy amount of beer, wine, whisky and schnapps.
On the way back to the lodge Marcus took a wrong turn and we ended up at a feed site for the wild boar where there were way too many to count feeding there making us regret not hunting them the night before but never mind we had had a fantastic experience seeing 30-40 Moose, hundreds of Fallow, wild boar, Red deer, Roe deer, Capercallie, Black grouse and golden eagles.
Incredible estate with some great hunters/friends it doesnít get better than that.