Quite the caper

Photo credit: Alastair Rae

Photo credit: Alastair Rae

Peter Carr takes two clients treeing and shooting capercallie in the Swedish wilderness the Scandanavian way

Sweden is a beautiful country and, with a total population of less than that of London, its great expanse is still relatively unspoilt. Indeed Sweden’s forests are described as one of the last two remaining wildernesses of Western Europe (the other being the central Scottish highlands).

I had returned to Scandinavia with two clients to hunt that most majestic of game birds, the capercallie. British hunters are mostly a nation of bird hunters and as such are bound by a rule of etiquette that remains largely foreign to our continental cousins. I have had in the past the displeasure to end proceedings early with a group of foreign guests rough shooting in Yorkshire, whose motto was “it flies, it dies,” and that even included birds skimming the grass with their landing gear deployed.

“The little dog was tireless, covering the ground like a pointer but hunting with spaniel-like vigour”

Safety is above all paramount and should of course never be left to chance. However when hunting in other countries, which have their own unique set of traditions and customs, the UK rule of etiquette does not apply and as long as safety is not compromised we as visiting hunters should remain open minded and not appear ignorant.

“When in Rome do as the Romans do” – while I am not encouraging anyone to engage in an orgy or watch Christians being fed to lions, I do think it is an appropriate adage to apply to overseas shooting. My two clients, Chris Beadle and Peter Kenworthy, are both rifle hunters and shotgunners. Indeed they are both excellent driven game shots and are fortunate to enjoy a number of days each season double gunning on some of the UK’s most prestigious estates. They are of course both well-versed in the appropriate etiquette required. It was with some trepidation that I took their booking to hunt capercallie with me in Sweden, as the traditional way to hunt the caper is with a rifle and a Finnish spitz hound (small, reddish husky type.) The hound flushes the bird and follows it until it is treed, whereby it then begins barking madly, thus keeping the birds attention and marking the correct tree for the hunter to approach.

I knew that both Chris and Peter were very experienced stalkers at home and abroad and as they were both generally good sports, I would more than likely be able persuade them to give the tree barkers a try. After much deliberation and hard sell by yours truly, the two clients agreed on a compromise – we would spend three days hunting with shotguns over pointers and three days hunting with the rifles and the tree barker. This would give Chris the opportunity to put into action his Heym 20-bore .222 drilling that later proved to be a rather useful piece of equipment.

We would be hunting in the Norbotten region of Sweden and as such had to spend one night in Lulea before being transferred to the hunting reserve at Kronogard. Lulea disappointed me for two reasons. Firstly, there were no blue-eyed Swedish females to be seen and secondly, even worse, there was NO beer. I grudgingly ordered up two large G&Ts for Chris and I but nearly lost consciousness when the bill came to the equivalent of £15 pounds in Swedish crowns. Needless to say we soon followed Peter’s example and turned in for an early night after Chris had his turn in the chair, of course.

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Posted in Everyman's Sport

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