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Trip Report: Scandinavian Safari (Part 1)
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Picture of Orvar
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This year my fiancé and I decide to do a “Scandinavian Safari” in lieu of the more traditional summer holidays. The plan was to start in Norway with some Reindeer hunting in the mountains, followed by a return trip to northern Sweden for Capaercaillie, Black Game, and Ptarmigan. So, this will be a two part report:

Date: 20-23 August 2011
Outfitter: Breheimen Safaries
PH: Kolbjørn & Knut
Location: the Breheimen mountain range, between Lom & Skjak, Norway
Species Taken: Reindeer



Day Zero: the outfitter recommended we come in the day prior to opening day, to hike (pack would probably be the more appropriate term) into the area, to be on the ground for opening day. We flew from London to Gothenburg, to drop off some more gear for the second part of the trip, and on to Oslo on the Thursday, finishing it off with a 5.5hr bus ride into Lom. We were recommended to stay at the Touristhotell in Lom, and try the restaurant (Fossheim), whose chef is a friend of the guides’. Wow! We are lucky enough to travel around quite a bit, and eat some pretty good food, but this guys has some mad skills! 1 Michelin Star would be easy for Kristoffer! If ever anywhere near this town, do make the trip to try the food.

Kolbjørn, one of the guides picked us up from the hotel on Friday morning, after we'd done some local sightseeing at the local fjell museum and an 800+ year old church.


Beautiful old church

We made a grocery run for the 4 days and were off to pick up Knut our other guide. It was a long drive to grab Knut, our other guide, and into the drop-off point. Where we arrived looked like something out of a Sci-Fi set, completely desolate beauty; what was left behind by a glacier some year ago.







After a brief 3hr hike into camp, we were able to settle into our new home for the coming days.



A very well appointed and stocked cabin, with room for 15+ we're told; although it would only be the 4 of us. The Norwegian Tourism board operates these and this one was fully stocked with firewood and food. We prepared a late meal, and got our heads down at about 1am, dreaming of the reindeer hunt to come.

Day 1: we got off to a late-ish start, as the fog had rolled in and the visibility was nil, along with a light but persistent rain. In the end, we only packed down to a comfortable vantage point from which to glass the 3 mile long valley below us






We made out a small herd of 7 reindeer about 2 miles away, along with a lone buck, towards the end of the afternoon. We also spotted 2 different groups of hunters trying to stalk in, but they only succeeded in pushing the heard up the valley onto a glacier out of their reach. We thought about making a stalk over and into the heard, but since the hunt must end, by law, at 7pm, we packed it in, with high hopes for the following day.

Day 2: up at the crack of oh-my-god its 5am, we were out the door with packs fully loaded for whatever. The plan was to make the 2 mile stalk down to where we'd spotted the deer feeding the following afternoon. In the end, it was a 3hr grueling stalk across some really tough terrain, with Rebecca and I taking the hurt. But, god is the scenery worth it!






Finally, not too far from exhaustion (as it had gotten quite hot and the packs weighed more than they should have), we made it to where we thought the herd would be. But, turns out we weren't alone, and 2 other groups were making a mad dash for them. Long story short: one missed ridiculously long off-hand shot from some other guys (we never met), and a spooked herd. Our shot was blown.

We did get them run by us at ~300yds. Our first sight of wild reindeer. Man are they beautiful when they're running in a herd! About 21 males all running together, with 2 very good bulls in there. An impressive sight.



We decided to stick it out down in the valley for a while, have some lunch, and see what happened. A bit tired after our light lunch, we decided to take a quick nap in our “wolverine bags” (these things are awesome!)


Rebecca taking a quick snooze

In the end, it rained (hard), and the herd disappeared over a 2,000 meter pass (never to be seen again) a we had an eventful boat ride (almost) home. The engine quit on us about 2/3rds of the way home, with the wind howling and raining pelting us in the face. Forced march home in the inclement weather for another 2.5hrs. Got home soaked to the bone. And bone tired.

After a warming meal, we made a plan for the following day. We would move down to a new cabin at the other end of the valley, in the flats, about 3 miles away

Day 3: up early, fully loaded packs, we set off for the other cabin. The engine was still dead on the boat, so Knut rowed us about 1/2-way there, before we tried the engine again, it works! We made the cabin by a little after noon. We discussed over a quick meal what the plan would be, as we hadn't seen a single reindeer all day and now the valley was completely empty of other hunters / people... weird. So, we had 2 options: a) sleep in the cabin, and attempt the following (and last) day, a 12 mile trek, with ~ 800 meters of vertical climb (just at onset, not counting the ups and downs of the trek across passes and ridges)... or b) trek 10 miles down to the road, go sleep at the guide's home, and try a completely different area for the following day. A gamble...

Considering how already physically tired we were, and knowing we couldn't make option a, even if we'd wanted to, we opted for a very long and tiring walk, but a hot shower and night's sleep in a bed. Tomorrow would be a new day and beginning (or end...)

Day 4 (last chance...): up at 5am, and after a quick coffee and toast, and short drive to the new area, on the trail by 6:30am. Not 10 yards from the car the slope is very steep, and even with the "light" packs, looks a real knee/feet/ball-buster! But, the sun is shining and things look like they could be turning for the better

At around 900 meters, having started at ~620, the trees thin out and we're met with an amazingly beautiful valley before us, and a steep climb!



At this point it’s tough mentally and physically; after 3 intense days, including the trek of the day before, it’s a challenge to keep going. But, we're positive, gotta trust the guides, no choice. So we continue to climb, making progress, while enjoying the magnificent day, weather and scenery around us





We spot a small herd of reindeer towards the top, just under the small glacier. They’re probably up there due to the warmer weather, which brings on the insects which drive them mad. This is the best chance we’ve had the whole trip, and maybe our last, time to make a move!

We finally make it up to ~1,300, and hear that the herd is only another 2-300 meters up the slope. It’s amazing the effect is has: legs become lighter, heavy packs forgotten, and our minds focus on our goal. We have 2 tags in our pockets (+ an additional one, as we’ve been told there is a cancellation, so we can take 3 should we want to) and its time to make this happen. We get to the flat up top and start moving around, to gain a better wind (as their sense of smell if the reindeers’ most important & difficult for the hunter). We’re pumped, as this could be it, but are also distracted by how absolutely beautiful it is up here, just a few hundred yards below the top of the mountain and its small glacier.



It’s like walking on eggshells in all the small rocks/stones, trying not to make a sound, as we move into position. Our first 2 attempts are in vain, as the herd is starting to move towards the glacier; as the temperature continues to rise, they’re going for the peace of the glacier. We finally think we have their path figured out, and I settle onto a nice large stone slab that’s nicely angled for me to lay prone on for a shot if they walk past us. After only ~30 seconds, we see the lead bull cresting the ridge with the herd in tow. I am pumped, this is it! I pick out the biggest bull I see toward the front of the herd (as the middle is just a mass of bulls all bunched together, which means no shot), once he gets clear… I take the second one from the front with a shot, and he’s down. The animals don’t spook (very helped here by the moderated .308 rifle), so I have time to center on a very old bull away from the rest in the confusion. Another shot, and he’s down. As the herd turn, I see a set of bright blood-red antlers that look amazing, just the sight of those in the scope within the scenery is awesome. Another shot, and he’s down too. It’s over. In > 30 seconds we finish what has been the toughest hunt for me yet. And we have 3 amazing reindeer on the ground!


The first big bull


Thick OLD bull


Last bull with those beautiful bright blood-red antlers





I think this one says it all


What a wild 4 days! It has been an emotional, and physical, rollercoaster. By far the physically toughest hunt I have ever done. We were definitely not prepared. Backpack hunting is not to be taken lightly! When, not if, I do this again, there will be a lot more research and preparation involved. Better gear and some really good physical training months before we leave.

Reindeer hunting is a tradition in Norway; one which is near and dear to local hearts, and I now most certainly understand why. For only a few weeks a year, we are privileged enough to be able to take to these beautiful mountains in search of these amazing and intriguing animals. A hunt I will most certainly never forget. Our guides, Kolbjørn and Knut, did wonderful job showing us their mountains and the breathtaking views, getting us through the physical side of the hunt (which is no small feat...), and sharing thei love of this hunt with us. Both are real outdoorsmen and gentlemen.

A trip of a lifetime!




Some more pictures of the scenery and reindeer herd










They did move to the glacier after the shots:



 
Posts: 1483 | Location: New York | Registered: 01 January 2010Reply With Quote
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Congratulations on a great hunt, great pictures, and a fiance with real spirit. Those wolverine bags do look very cool. They also look like you could wake up to a reindeer stepping on you.
 
Posts: 1278 | Location: Texas Hill Country | Registered: 31 May 2007Reply With Quote
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Thanks Cazador.

Actually, once we were both in our wolverine bags, one of the guides who was spotting only about 500 yds away couldn't find us any more (and his eyes are sharp!). They are also used as mini (and very mobile) hides for hunts.

Link to Manufacturer: https://jerven-com.secure.flexiweb.no/
 
Posts: 1483 | Location: New York | Registered: 01 January 2010Reply With Quote
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Magnificient report, Orvar!
I'm glad you were successful. And THREE bulls! Wow! Smiler
Thanks for sharing lovely pictures and good luck on the rest of the Scandinavian Safari!

Ps. Almost every hunter I know uses the "Wolverine" bags. They're really amazing. Will keep you warm in all kinds of weather.


Anders

Hunting and fishing DVDs from Mossing & Stubberud Media: www.jaktogfiskedvd.no

..and my blog at: http://andersmossing.blogspot.com
 
Posts: 1959 | Location: Norway | Registered: 19 September 2002Reply With Quote
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Wery nice orvar!!nice bucks and yes the wolverine bag is a nasjonal item among the Norwegian reindeer hunters! tu2


Rauma Hunting and Fishing Safaris
www.rauma-jakt-fiskesafari.no
 
Posts: 615 | Location: åndalsnes Norway | Registered: 05 January 2007Reply With Quote
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Congratulations! Great story, great pictures and great bulls tu2

I have the "wolverine bag" in the insulatet Thermo Hunter version in woodland camouflage. Great stuff for stand hunting when it is freezing cold.
It´s a bit noisy, but I can live with that.


Arild.

Member of NRA

 
Posts: 1858 | Location: North-West Coast of Norway. | Registered: 02 June 2000Reply With Quote
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Excellent report. Stunning scenery and magnificent bulls.
 
Posts: 251 | Location: Suffolk | Registered: 26 April 2004Reply With Quote
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Well done - what a thrill! And a busy few minutes of shooting at the end.

Was it a public area where all Norwegians can hunt? Sounds like it was quite competitive at times.
 
Posts: 2359 | Location: London | Registered: 31 May 2003Reply With Quote
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great hunting


ur 3 greatest hunts r, ur 1st,ur last,and ur next!!!!
 
Posts: 250 | Registered: 19 September 2004Reply With Quote
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Wow.....congratulations ! Great pictures and fantastic bulls.
 
Posts: 510 | Location: Iceland | Registered: 15 May 2006Reply With Quote
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Boghossian: I will leave it to one of our Norwegian friends to explain how this works, as even after asking a number of questions, still not 100% and don't want to give you wrong into...
 
Posts: 1483 | Location: New York | Registered: 01 January 2010Reply With Quote
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Great report and pictures.Much enjoyed.Thanks for sharing.


Best-
Locksley,R.


"Early in the morning, at break of day, in all the freshness and dawn of one's strength, to read a book - I call that vicious!"- Friedrich Nietzsche
 
Posts: 672 | Location: Sherwood Forest | Registered: 07 April 2005Reply With Quote
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I can only add my congratulations on the trip and the report!

Very well done sir.
 
Posts: 11723 | Location: London, UK | Registered: 02 September 2007Reply With Quote
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Congratulations! Great story, great pictures and great bulls!

clap

Nils-Ole
 
Posts: 103 | Location: Norway | Registered: 07 June 2010Reply With Quote
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That's why Norwegians love their land !
Great hunt ! tu2
 
Posts: 7636 | Registered: 10 October 2002Reply With Quote
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Great pics and report! congrats on a very successful hunt Smiler
 
Posts: 142 | Location: Norway, Telemark | Registered: 16 January 2010Reply With Quote
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Thanks all!

And if anyone our there has some good Reindeer recipes, please post them! We have 150+kg of meat arriving in 6 weeks shocker and that's gonna be the center of some great hunter dinners! Yummmm
 
Posts: 1483 | Location: New York | Registered: 01 January 2010Reply With Quote
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Excellent report Orvar!

Thank you for taking the time to write it and post up the pics Smiler

Looking forward to part 2! Cool


Jonathan

My Hunting Blog:
http://jonathan81.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 147 | Location: Oslo, Norway | Registered: 11 November 2008Reply With Quote
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Thank you for that wonderful report and photos Orvar. I have one question though - after all the hard walking and the big packs you carry how on earth did you get the dead animals out of there?
 
Posts: 436 | Registered: 14 May 2007Reply With Quote
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Fantastic hunt, and a beautiful place, but my god, it is bleak there. Reindeer must be a resilitant beast to thrive there.

Makes the west of Ireland look like a tropical paradise.

I think that hunt is for someone made of sterner stuff than me.


Just because you are paranoid, doesn't mean they are not out to get you....
 
Posts: 1484 | Location: Northern Ireland | Registered: 19 February 2004Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by caorach:
Thank you for that wonderful report and photos Orvar. I have one question though - after all the hard walking and the big packs you carry how on earth did you get the dead animals out of there?


You have to butcher them on the hill and pack them out! Eeker


Jonathan

My Hunting Blog:
http://jonathan81.blogspot.com/
 
Posts: 147 | Location: Oslo, Norway | Registered: 11 November 2008Reply With Quote
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Very Cool - and great Pix...


Good Hunting,

Tim Herald
Worldwide Trophy Adventures
tim@trophyadventures.com
 
Posts: 2838 | Location: Lexington, KY | Registered: 13 January 2005Reply With Quote
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Great pics and report,
The landscape is similar where Trapper Dave and I are going next month for Reindeer with some other hunters. We got tags for two bulls and two cows.
I will send you some recipes, got a lot of them, from hamburgers to great steaks.


Skype username
solvijoh
 
Posts: 497 | Location: Iceland | Registered: 27 October 2002Reply With Quote
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