Hunting season draws thousands

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With prospects bright for a better bird-hunting season this year, thousands of Norwegians were heading for the hills and forests this weekend. Thousands more have already been hunting for deer and wild reindeer, but it’s the grouse hunt that’s emerged as most prestigious.

This year's "rypejakt" (grouse hunt) is expected to be much better than last year's, with more birds in the mountains, larger flocks and fewer hunters after last year's poor season. The season in Norway started this week. PHOTO: Marianne Gaski

This year’s “rypejakt” (grouse hunt) is expected to be much better than last year’s, with more birds in the mountains, larger flocks and fewer hunters after last year’s poor season. The season in Norway started this week. PHOTO: Marianne Gaski

“Rolex and golf are out, now it’s the grouse hunt that’s the ultimate status symbol among the rich and successful,” reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) earlier this week. The annual hunt officially began on Tuesday, for which nearly 43,000 are registered, reported newspaper Aftenposten last month. Another 81,000 are registered for the small animal hunt (for hare, for example) that also began on September 10.

Unlike some of the bigger game hunting that can involve hours of sitting still in watchtowers in the woods, the grouse hunt demands lots of hiking in the great outdoors with faithful (and expensive) dogs as the hunter’s best companion. It also requires good shooting ability and financial resources.

Professor Tor Wallin Andreassen at business school NHH (Norges Handelshøyskole in Bergen) claims that the grouse hunt (called rypejakt in Norwegian) has “become the new Birkebeiner (Birken)” in terms of status and athletic challenge.

“Golf became too common and therefore no longer cool,” Andreassen told NRK. “The same applies to Birken,” he added, referring to the tough cross-country skiing and bicycle races over the mountains from Rena to Lillehammer. “Birken used to be a challenge for only the toughest. Now it attracts so many people that it’s lost some of its shine.”

The hunt for ptarmigan and white grouse remains more elite and this year’s hunt was greatly anticipated by avid hunters, not least because wildlife officials were predicting greater numbers of birds. The warm summer is believed to have helped nurture baby birds and small animals along with the rodents that can provide a better food supply. Some hunting clubs also imposed restrictions last year when hunting was poor, to build up stocks.

Last year’s grouse season ended as one of the worst in recent years, with only 120,000 grouse shot compared to 190,000 the year before. In the mid-1980s, hunters shot as many as 700,000. Now things are looking up again, with prospects this year also better for other forest birds. Bird counts have been up in almost all regions except some areas of Trøndelag, reported news bureau NTB. Around Bardu in the northern county of Troms, the grouse count rose from 22 per square kilometer last year to 37 this year. Quotas are thus larger as well this year.

“The signals we’ve had from the landowners (who sell hunting rights) indicate that things are going in the right direction,” Roar Skuterud of the environmental agency Miljødirektoratet told NTB. “We can’t say that there are a lot of grouse, but there’s more than last year.”

The annual moose hunt, meanwhile, gets underway on September 25. Berglund

  • frenk

    Well…theres not much else to do…plus…actually buying food is very expensive…might as well kill stuff in the forest?!?

  • Ade Larsen

    Hunting, like fishing and camping, is a great outdoor pursuit.
    Whether it be reindeer, moose, roe deer or birds, hunting connects the hunter to the nature. It’s part of every culture to hunt and in Norway it is a very common thing to do. Hunters and their families know where their protein comes from.
    Hunters are also avid conservationists and care about the environment and the animals which they carefully harvest.

    • frenk

      Golf became too common and therefore no longer cool….brilliant!!!
      Hunters are also avid conservationists

      • Robert Neve

        actually a lot of serious hunters are more in-tune with conservation that the average person.

        • frenk

          I can can agree with hunting for food….if required….but sport hunting…just because there is nothing else to do…?

          • Robert Neve

            Some animals need control however it depends on what they do with the carcass. As long as the meat is used I don’t see why it matters if the hunter eats it or gives it away.

      • Ade Larsen

        Yes, it is true. Hunting and harvesting animals like Moose and reindeer is actually good for their populations. There is too many moose and wild reindeer (and other species including Minke whales) and they must be harvested for more than meat, sport and enjoyment. If no one hunt the animals then they would all get sick and die and then no one wins. No moose cakes 🙁

        So not only is hunting a pleasure, past time and way to fill your freezer, it’s also a way to strengthen the population of animals such as moose and reindeer which are over-abundant eg, the forest cannot support such large populations (not enough food).

        You will meet no better conservationist than a farmer, fisherman, whaler or hunter.

        Sustainable harvesting and hunting of over-abundant species such as moose, deer and minke whales is actually conservation at its finest.

        Many people do not understand that taking an animal can help its mates survive. Over-population of above mentioned species equates to sickness from disease and starvation from lack of food.

        Besides this obvious logic, hunting is good for the soul and gets people into the nature. It brings in dollars for tourist communities too. Not everyone can shoot a moose in their backyard – most hunters travel to hunt in norway. And yes, there is many hunters from city areas also.

        Golf is a great game – Hunting is also. You should try it. 🙂
        I know where my protein comes from, Do you ? 🙂