Let me start with a confession, despite having been a member here for ages, this was my first actual experience of hunting with a rifle. Sad I know....
About a month ago, a friend of mine invited me to come on a driven hunt with him in Sweden (he is a member of a consortium over there which has a fair bit of land). Of course I accepted, got all the paperwork sorted and waited for the big day!
We were seven hunters from Denmark and local dog teams. The first day of the hunt was with a dog team who were only to be used for moose and wild pigs, and if any roe deer appeared they were not to be shot. This was not a problem for me, as the only wildlife I saw from my high seat was a woodpecker, but the lad on the next post sat and watched a roe doe and kid about 100 metres off for 40 minutes. The dogs were quite active though, and cornered a couple of young boar which were taken by the dog handler. GPS collars are a great thing for dog handlers doing this kind of hunting.
Lunch was a bit of a surprise for me as it was quite similar to the one described on the infamous Finnish moose hunt thread (i.e. sausages over an open fire). Ours involved as many sausages and rolls as we could eat though, and hot fresh coffee too.
The afternoon's drive was equally unsuccessful for me, but this time the woodpecker I saw was of a different species. There was plenty of activity from the dogs though, and I did catch a flash of something at the corner of the clearing which was closely followed by a barking dog. Nothing came close to being shot by anyone though, and the drive ended early about half an hour before sunset when the dog handlers had to leave.
We decided that we might as well use the remaining time and drove out to some other posts. I was set out first at a nice little meadow where there were often signs of boar. After about ten minutes I heard a shot, and discovered shortly afterwards that the guy at the next post had spotted a young female moose just after getting out of the car and had shot it at a range of about 130 metres.
So back we went to the slaughterhouse which was provided by the landlord for those hunters who rented land from them. It was close to the lodge, and is frankly a necessity. I've no idea how you'd butcher a carcass that size without decent facilities. It took a bit of time getting it sorted out, and then it was time for dinner and a beer or two!
The next day was with a different dog team, and this time roe were on the menu! Only bucks and kids though, as they didn't want to risk shooting what seemed to be a doe, but was actually a buck that that had lost it's antlers. I got a great post with a wide vista over a massive clearing with the treeline between 60m (to my right) and about 200m away in front. After a while I heard that the dog had got the scent of something and was hot on the trail. The barking drew closer and I looked around for likely points where the animal (whatever it was) might emerge.
I decided that the woods to my right were the most likely place, and only seconds after I had focussed my attention there out comes a roe deer. As it ran it looked like it was going to pass directly in front of me. Too big for a kid, was it a buck? Yes. I've no idea how big, but there were definitely antlers. The buck was almost directly in front of me, so I called out to stop it. It stopped straight away and looked to see what had made the noise. I had just enough time to aim the rifle for a perfect hear/lung shot, and I squeezed the trigger. I was still squeezing the trigger when the buck noticed the danger and shot off towards the treeline in front of me. A perfect chance ruined because I had forgotten to take the safety off!
I spent the rest of the day mentally kicking myself, and got quite a bit of well deserved ribbing from the other hunters.
We had one more drive after lunch where it absolutely bucketed down. Even so, one of the lads got a roe kid (the same bloke who'd got the moose the day before!). After that we drove off to another area about half an hour away, where more moose had been spotted. I saw nothing at all, but my mate got a buck with the smallest antlers ever.
Back to the lodge for moose steaks and beer. Not bad at all! My mate took pity on me not having had any luck, and suggested that we take an early morning outing the next day before we left, so I didn't overdo it with the beer.
We were up bright and early and were in position for first light, but unfortunately nothing showed. We spotted fresh sign of moose, boar and roe though.
All in all it was a great weekend. I learned a lot, discovered deficiencies in my kit, got plenty of fresh air, and met some great people. I hope I get another invite. If I do, I won't be forgetting the safety next time!
Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my card reader so I'll have to wait with photos