Sunday, October 4, 2009

October means Moose hunting starts....

I probably will upset the applecart here, but this is one part of living in Finland that I do not feel in tune with. I just do not like it - so wouldn't ever take part in it. I am not a born hunter, I don't even like to kill spiders... mosquitoes is about the only creature that can 'get it' from me.

So, my viewpoint is somewhat different to those all around me. I was not brought up in this environment, it was not drilled into me to be a hunter, use a gun, a knife or whatever.

There are varying hunting seasons throughout Finland, for bears, birds and moose etc.. and last weekend the moose hunting season started. It should last until the end of the year, but daylight will be limited by then, so most is going on right now. Moose can be incredibly huge beasts, beautiful, majestic and regal, but do cause an awful lot of car accidents each year with even the slightest of encounter generally writing off a vehicle - if not the passengers inside it. I myself remember that the moose was here before the car and that a car should go slower with drivers more observant, but nevertheless, this is one of the main reasons that are given to justify the hunts. If I were to hit a moose, I certainly wouldnt blame it, as I believe that it is I who is in it's territory, not the other way around - it has every right to be there. Another given cause is the deforestation that these herbivores generate. I think they just have to eat to survive.

I recently had a discussion with someone I work with, about hunting and found out quite a few interesting things - which were also somewhat horrifying - to me at least. In Sodankylä alone, there will be approximately 700 of these creatures killed. These are taken by groups of hunters that have banded together and each group gets a quota allowance from the government. My colleagues group can take 13 adults and 3 babies. I have to say that this made me quite sad. I had no idea that they took so many, or the young, even though I appreciate that they are not an endangered species in any way shape or form.

I asked how they knew how many there were to which they said that a helicopter flies over and does a general head count in a particular zone and generalises a figure. ( Now, in the five years that I have been here, I have only seen ONE moose, so my belief is that there are not as many out there as they think.. but what do I know?? That is just my feeling, my opinion. The moose that I was lucky enough to see, was lovely. I didn't have my camera available to take a picture, nor would I probably have had time to take a photo, but it was just entering the forest on the same side of the road as our car, one morning on the way to work. I was so delighted to see it...although the same might not be said for it seeing me! LOL... We stopped the car, to watch it. It moved slowly and beautifully into the forest and then stopped. It stood there watching us, probably wondering what we were doing. It was not that old.. but it was so, so lovely to see. I hope it makes it through the winter!

I was concerned that as Moose have just the one offspring annually, or two if they are lucky, that the population might be getting smaller. What happens if they shoot more females than males or vice versa? I understand that these gentle giants actually have very few predators, save for man. Sure the bear or a wolf might get involved occasionally, but really man is their main enemy. Do we have the right to 'balance nature'? Surely, it would only take a virus in their population one year and the numbers could suffer dramatically. I think that if the hunters were not allowed to hunt them, there would be a riot! It is just so natural for them to hunt here.. it is second nature - since the stone age Moose have been here - as you can see in the cave drawings.

A moose reaches maturity between four to five years of age and is aging by ten. If it is lucky it will make it to the age of 20 and I dont know that many make it that far, some not making it past their first year of course and after their first year alive they are very cautious, naturally, of mankind.

The hunting groups themselves, are very well organised, have to be fully trained, with an examination course and then licensed annually. Overall of Finland this year there were 51519.5 licences supplied and 10484.5 in Lapland. They wear bright red clothing in the forest for personal safety and thankfully, the rules are quite tough too - you cant just go out and start blasting away. Dogs are specially kept for hunting here and most dogs are living outside the home in cages all year round, rather than as pets. These dogs live for the hunt season and roam to find the creature, barking furiously when they find it - to alert the hunters.

From what Ive been told, just one person in a hunting group takes the shot, the person who has the best line up and view and can take the shot with the least stress to the animal - which I am thankful for at least, although occasionally the animal will run and the shot will not be clean. They also use moose hunting towers to shoot from.

The Moose is gutted in the forest, drained of blood and taken on a quad bike or similar to a small log cabin in the forest, where they disect its flesh and share the kill between the group. Moose is said to be similar to beef, but tastes more like buffalo apparently and it's very lean.

In 2008, 57,097 was the amount of Moose taken. (

One of the popular comic strips in the newspaper here is Helge - a moose who worries and is followed around by some amusing hunters. Recently the cartoons have been very apt. The TV news showed the police out in the forest checking up on hunters, asking to see their licences. It seemed that many did not have their permits on them as they had to report immediately to the station to provide them. The first comic strip relates to this and I found it quite humorous! Click the image to view them larger.

Man: "Moose hunting season starts tomorrow. I have got everything ready in good time - let me think: gun, ammunition, forestry knife, axe, rucksack, toilet paper, matches, radiophone - everything is packed. Good! Now I can sleep with a good mind. Goodnight!"
Wife: "Hunting licence?"
Man: Image infers a - 'Gulp!'

Dog: "Wow! Fresh tracks and they come more and more!" (ROFL!!!!!)

Hide Moosey hide is my message!

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