The clock just turned 4:30, and I arise from my bed without hesitation. I went to bed 10:30 last night, but my dry eyes and exhausted brain tells me that I barely got 2 hours of continuous sleep. However, as of this moment, I feel more awake than ever before – today is a special day.
Making myself a sandwich, bread, butter, cheese and ham, I wrap it gently and place it in my bag. Making my way towards the hallway, my boots are lined up like I organized them yesterday. One foot at a time, I slowly prepare to head out towards the untouched forest right next to the house I spent the night within.
As I gently close the front door behind me, I find myself at the fresh green lawn – the same lawn I decided to mow when I came here yesterday. This very morning however, due to the darkness, I cannot see the grass, I can just smell the scent of it. Slowly making my way towards the forest, I can hear birds chirping become louder and louder, and the sense of me being one with the nature is stronger than ever before. After a couple of minutes walking, I arrive to the wooden tower that will be my spot for the next few hours, and slowly climb my way up. Sitting on a narrow plank, I’m as present as I can be. For every breath I take, I slowly start to feel the adrenaline settle down. The sun has stated to break through the line of forest ahead of me, and underneath me lies a thick fog, just like when you fly over a cloud in the sky. Reaching for the phone in my right pocket, I glance at the date and time displayed. 16th of August, 5:00 – today is no ordinary day.
16th of August is the day that male roe deer is allowed to hunt. This date represents the start of a new exciting hunting season, and many people take the opportunity in honour of the day to try their luck on an elegant buck. There are no dogs are allowed at this point in time, so simple hunts where the hunter sits in a tower are amongst the standard.
Hunting traditions has been a part of Swedish history for many centuries. Having a rich fauna, many hunters from all around the world travel to Sweden to experience one of the best hunting grounds there is in the world. Not only, like portrayed above, is quiet and slow sitting hunts a common thing. Swedish people, amongst many European countries, are famous their particularly exciting driven hunts. A driven hunt involves a group of hunters that gather together on a larger area, and together with dogs try to hunt animals like wild boar and deer – however this is no easy task. Many people think that hunting is an unfair and brutal game, where the animals have no chance when facing a group of hunters. However, it’s quite remarkable how most of the time only a few, and sometimes no animals get shot during a full day of hunting. Animals are smart, and as Charles Darwin would have said it: “the more people hunt, the smarter the animals get”.
Not only can humans enjoy a day in the woods, in fact our best friends probably enjoy it more. Dogs are from the beginning a predator animal, originating from the wolf. Nowadays, most dogs are taught not to chase other species when taking a walk in the forest -– this is not the case for hunting dogs. To see a trained dog work with smelling, running and barking, you get the sense that they are born to do this. There is no dog owner than can tell their dog to track down a wild boar – they just do it like it’s the most natural and fun thing ever.
The clock just turned 12:00, and I open my bag to grab the gently wrapped sandwich I made this morning. Today was not my lucky day, I didn’t shoot anything. However, was it that unlucky after all? I suppose not.
You see, the thing about hunting is not to shoot every animal you see, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. When sitting in a hunting tower there is no other thing in the world that can make me feel as present. Every breath creates white smoke rising towards the sky, every move you make echoes in the quiet surrounding eternity, every sound coming from the woods creates an adrenaline rush like nothing else, every second feeling like an hour – slowly becoming one with the wild.