By Jess McGlothlin
The Nordic country of Sweden is home to a massive total surface area of 449,964 km2, an impressive 62% of which is woodlands. As expected in a country with this vast amount of wildlife habitat, Sweden is home to a passionate population of hunters; it’s estimated one in every 31 persons hunts. And while many hunters connect the Nordic countries with large-game hunting — moose, deer, bear and more — the opportunities for waterfowl, upland birds and smaller mammals are many and varied.
The Hunting Culture in Sweden
Swedish hunters are kept well-apprised of hunting news and updates, thanks to a number of hunting journals and active websites. Best practices for hunting and game management are carefully, constantly scrutinized, and recently an increased focus has been applied to bring more youth into hunting. Trapping has a rich heritage in the area and continues to be a popular method of hunting, though trap servicing regulations are rigorous.
Big game can only be taken with rifles, and bullets weighing at least 10 grams (154 grains) must have an impact energy of at least 2,000 joules at 100 metres from the muzzle. Bullets weighing between nine and 10 grams (139-154 grains) must have impact energy of at least 2,7000 joules 100 metres from the muzzle. This ammunition is classified as “Class 1.”
Smaller game, including fallow deer and wild boar, and — of course — bird species, can be hunted with a shotgun. The largest permitted calibre is 12, and calibres smaller than 20 are not allowed. All hunters must pay a conservation fee, and visitors hunters’ permits must be taken out (hunting lodges and guides can assist with this process). Hunting rights in Sweden belong to the landowner, who can lease the land to another for short or long periods of time. Roughly half the land in Sweden is owned by large companies or the state, and often hunting rights are leased out to hunting associations or individuals.
Hunting Big Game Species in Sweden
Many hunters traveling to Sweden are in pursuit of one of the country’s big game species. Moose tends to be the main draw and, with an estimated annual bag of nearly 100,000, there is no shortage of the largest member of the deer family. In the southern part of the country, the season starts mid-October and in the north early September, and both continue until the end of January. Foreign hunters who want to hunt for moose are required to take a moose-hunting proficiency test, where they shoot a life-sized figure of a moose at 80 metres, with the figure both standing and “running.” Hosts can arrange for this test for visiting hunters.
Other large game includes fallow deer, red deer and roe deer, all of which have ever-evolving management areas and annual bag numbers. Brown bear, in certain areas, is also a draw. A quality guide or outfitter will be best able to advise visitors on when and where the most productive hunting can be found. While the general hunting year in Sweden runs 1 July through 30 June of the following year, nearly all game species in Sweden have specific, regional seasons, which often fall into short windows of opportunity.
Waterfowl Hunting in Sweden
Sweden is home to some of the best bird-hunting in Europe. High bird numbers — of geese, in particular — provide a plethora of opportunities for hunters to take game. Canada goose, graylag goose, bean goose and white-fronted goose all make appearances in Sweden. Those seeking duck and other waterfowl can find themselves occupied with mallard, teal, widgeon, tufted duck, eider and a wide variety of other water-loving species. As expected, most waterfowl hunting occurs in the autumn into early winter. Note that regulations on the use of hunting dogs are quite rigorous, and hunters are best-served to check with the regional authority for the latest laws.
Upland and Other Bird Hunting in Sweden
Seasons vary widely for traditional upland bird species. Hunters will find the woods of Sweden a healthy habitat for ptarmigan, grouse, partridge, pheasant, capercaillie, woodcock and more, and with the help of a knowledgeable guide can find themselves on the hunt of a lifetime in the Swedish countryside. Birds such as jay, magpie, jackdaw and hooded crow can often be hunted in the spring months, providing a keen distraction after the long winter nights.
Hunting Other Species in Sweden: Hare, Boar and More
Sweden is home to a variety of other game species, including wild boar, badger, pine marten, polecat, red fox, beaver, rabbit and several variants of hare. Many of these small mammals are hunted by trapping; consult with regional authorities on the latest hunting regulations.
Hunting Lodge and Guide Options in Sweden
The Nordic forests, crags and valleys of Sweden are home to a variety of small hamlets, welcoming in their relaxed Swedish hospitality. Nestled within these hamlets, hunters will find a variety of hunting lodges and outfitter services, ready to facilitate and guide during a hunting trip. For those seeking an additional sporting pursuit during their visit, it’s possible to take advantage of Sweden’s world-class pike, trout, grayling and Baltic salmon fishing.
For the Best Trip, Pack the Correct Equipment
Traveling hunters must abide by the international and national laws which govern traveling with firearms. Pack along a variety of layered clothing; it is best to have a system comprised of base-, mid- and outer-layers to best mix-and-match pending on the weather conditions. As expected for a Nordic country, hunting in Sweden can be quite cold and wet, so quality waterproof boots and a weatherproof jacket are paramount. It is best to consult with the guide or outfitter for a complete packing list well in advance of departure.
Home to Europe’s highest percentage of forested land, Sweden offers any hunter a unique opportunity to hunt wild game. The northern reaches of the country — often referred to as “Lapland” — is sparsely populated and, often, seems to be home to more wildlife than humans. Visiting hunters can expect superb hunting experiences, a quality Swedish welcome and a memorable trip in the northern wilderness.
Eagle Review’s Top Sweden Hunting Destinations: