torsdag 16. september 2010

The hunt

After a lot of obstacles I could finally go hunting, and the last of August turned out to be a perfect day for it! For some reason we did not have class that day, no wind appeared (even though it had been pretty windy the day before), and the sun was up the whole day!

Three friends of mine joined me on the hunt (although it was enough people who wanted to join, and even though I wanted to say yes to everyone, I could not have a too big group joining me...). We took a cab out to Endalen, where we started to hike into Fardalen. My hunting area started in Fardalen. When we arrived this valley, we had lunch in the sun while we used the binoculars to check for reindeers. We found 4 majestic bulls with red antlers! Their antlers were red because they were loosing their fur from the antlers, and hence we could see the blood capillaries under the skin. But I did not have permission for any of the bulls, so we continued into the valley. (I had a permission for a female or young animal).

We found several small groups of males while we walked, but finally we found a bigger group with mixed animals. There was a couple of old bulls nearby, some young ones, females with calf, and we found one female without calf! We tried to get a little closer to the herd by walking down in the river valley while the animals where up on a small plateau. I left my backpack and everything I didn`t need with the guys, and started to close in on the reindeer. When I was getting on a shooting distance, 2 calfs and a young female showed up! They had been lying completely still in the shadow, we had no chance to see them! I got confused a bit, and tried to figure out which calf belonged to which female (of course you never shoot a female with calf!!!). But then one of the bulls spotted me, and I could hear the grunts travel through the herd alarming of danger. But one of the females got curious about me and started to walk closer! her calf, another female and calf, and a young one followed her and went around me, checking me out. The ones who followed her was quite nervous, but she kept checking me out. I tried as well as possible to hide on the ground, without success. Suddenly the group turned again, and I got a nice view for the young one, but then my friends where sitting a couple of meters behind it! The group went away form me, and I tried to crawl slowly after them, but the bulls kept having an eye on me! After a while they got to far away, they where walking faster than I could crawl without being detected, so I decided to get back to my friends.

Then they spotted a group of only young reindeers on the other side of the valley, all of them sitting at the foot of a small hill! We could see no calfs around them, only young animals. My friends decided to stay on the east side of the valley, while I went over the river to the other side (to make sure I would not get a perfect view to another animal and having my friends behind it). This time I decided to crawl all the way, and do everything I could to stay down so they would not detect me. I was crawling slowly closer to the group, hiding behind every bump of moss I could find. Every time any of the animals looked in my direction I laid completely still for several minutes so they would not be alarmed. At once point I was thinking about the guys sitting on the other side, guessing that they were getting could from not moving. Hehe, but I shoveled the thought away by reminding myself that we brought enough warm water, 2 jervenduk ( a water-and wind proof sleeping-bag-like thing to keep you warm) and plenty of food. So I went back to only focus on the reindeers again. When I finally got close enough for a shooting distance, one of the reindeers started grazing. He walked slowly behind a small elevation in the terrain, so I kept crawling a little bit closer. Then I ended up in a small river! I crossed it as fast as possible, laid down on the grown, and waited. The reindeer spotted me, and kept looking at me! (I´m pretty sure I held my breath at this point!). After a while he kept grazing, but he was checking me out all the time. But he walked higher up on this tiny elevation, and I was waiting to see if I would get a good view of him from where I was laying. Carefully I took the rifle down from my back, and loaded it. Suddenly the whole group of reindeers started to graze, and all of them went one step up on the hillside and gave me a perfect view to all of them! Now I started to feel my heart beat as I aimed at one reindeer, but he moved and I decided not to shoot. I aimed at the next one, which also moved away a bit. THe third one kept staying at the same spot with a nice position from me. Suddenly I did not feel my heart beat anymore, nor did I feel nervous or stressed. I was only focused! And I triggered the rifle, and saw the reindeer falling down, and the others running away! I went over to the animals, and saw that I hit it exactly where I aimed, a clean heart-lung-shot.

I signaled to my friends that the could come over, they brought all the rest of my stuff. Then the work started on butchering the animal, and with four biologist at the place that was an interesting experience! I tried to remember everything from the demonstration I had been to, and I think I managed to do it quite well (but probably very slow compared to an experienced hunter/butcher). And I was so grateful for the good knives my dad lend me! And it was quite funny to boss the guys around, telling them what to do and what to bring me =P When I was finished with the job one of my friends pushed me into a jervenduk and gave my a pack of dry tech, and I finally realized how tired and cold I actually was! And how happy I was that I brought my friends so they could help me!

When I finally got warm again, and my strength back, the guys had already packed all the meat in their own back packs! And they had cleaned the equipment and tidied up a little bit. While they had been doing this and I had been eating, a pack of gulls and 2 skuas were getting more and more aggressive, so it was a relief to get away before the got too close!

We went the same way hiking home again, and got back to Endalen around midnight (We arrived there around 8.30 in the morning). Then I had to send messages to my friends in Nybyen that everyone where ok, and call for a cab. When I got back to Nybyen I started to hang up my meat, had a shower (kind of needed that after crawling in mud and having my hands covered in blood), had something to eat and went very proud to bed!

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