Driven moose

Bull Moose in Snow FallEditor Pete Carr enjoys some moose success in Sweden driving the game in by time honoured traditional methods

The Scandinavian moose (or more correctly Eurasian Elk) is Europe’s biggest deer species, and as such it is a majestic animal to hunt in anyone’s book. There are two methods of hunting the moose, and most often both are combined. The first is by use of a dedicated moose dog, which looks very much like the Siberian husky or sled dog. These specialist hounds are cast off into the forest and expected to pick up the line of a moose, follow it and bring it to bay while the hunter carefully stalks into the beast using the wind – and hopefully gets a clear shot. This description is very much a simplified version of the expected events, but I can certainly vouch for both the interesting dog work and exciting stalk into the baying hound. The second method is to encircle a particular area of forestry or moose ground with a number of hunters and attempt to drive the moose out to the patiently waiting guns. Most often the same type of moose hound is used, as the quarry is very nervous and doesn’t necessarily stand at bay that easily. More often the beast will run on, hopefully into the path of a waiting hunter. It is when the moose have been moved on once or twice already and become tired when they hold at bay.

More and more hunting Americanisms are being used in Western Europe, and the North American term “moose” is one of the best examples. Interestingly, the moose was once part of Britain’s varied fauna but went extinct here during the Bronze Age, long before the European discovery of America. The word “elk” remained in common usage because of its existence in continental Europe right up to the 1970s when “moose” became universally popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Confusingly, the word “elk” is used in North America to refer to a completely different animal, Cervus canadensis, also known by its Native American name, “wapiti”. Therefore to avoid this Anglicised confusion, moose became the accepted name of the animal Alces, alces. In Europe, moose are found in substantial numbers throughout Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and the Baltic States, with more modest numbers in the southern Czech Republic, Belarus and northern Ukraine. They are also quite widespread in Russia.

“Armand shot a calf, Kenneth shot a good bull that was breaking back through the line and Anders, the hunter next to me, shot a young bull”

Last month, I was kindly invited along to a moose hunt hosted by the world-renowned Swedish ammunition manufacturer Norma. The company manages its own hunting areas situated very close to the Norwegian border. There was a group of some 15 hunters from four different continents joining me on this hunt; I have to say it was the finest ensemble of good-humored and like-minded hunters I have ever had the privilege to hunt with.

It was a three-day hut and the first dawned bright and mild, promising a pleasant day in the forest. The organisation was second to none and after strict instruction on safety and explanation on how the drive was to work, we were dropped off on our respective stands with time-honored efficiency, and expectations were high. All hunters were equipped with radios and kept up-to-date on events by the hunting guides through regular updates. This was a great touch, and it both held the excitement and increased one’s chances of success as Kenneth or Armand could tell specific hunters if a moose was coming their way. The radios were connected to the Peltor ear protection provided; no noise from the radio could give the game away to any approaching moose.

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