When you are hunting in the mountains with just a backpack and tent, you really feel in touch with the primeval power of nature. Pedro Ampuero from Spain and his hunting party had to deal with rain, snow, and hail when they spent a week hunting caribou in Norway last August. For a keen hunter like Ampuero, this is precisely what makes it so attractive – getting up close and personal with wild, unspoiled nature.
Pedro and his two companions Frederik and Lewis spent six days roaming through spectacular mountain scenery without spotting a single caribou. From a good vantage point, the three men scour every inch of a deep, broad valley – but in vain. It is hard to believe there are no caribou here. “It could be too early for this particular spot this year,” says Frederik. The native Norwegian thinks they would have more luck during the rut in mid-September.
Lady Luck is not smiling on the hunters. They roam far and wide but there is no sign of a caribou. And tomorrow is their last day. Will our hunter friends all be going home empty-handed?
ensure responsible hunting. Hunting at twilight is forbidden so that caribou can graze without stress. The use of artificial light sources is also not allowed, and some areas are subject to shooting bans so that animals can move around undisturbed.
It is mid-night. Exhausted, the three men set up camp. Tomorrow is their last opportunity for a successful hunt. The alarm goes off – far too early. They look out of the tent and feel their hopes fading. A dense layer of fog has descended overnight.
As soon as visibility improves, the three hunters begin scouring the vast landscape. Incredibly, they finally spot a herd of bulls! But they are heading off into the distance because a local hunter has fired at one of them. In desperation, Pedro, Frederik, and Lewis make chase, but before long they are lying on the ground, exhausted and struggling to catch their breath.
Disappointed, they reflect on their bad luck over the last few days. It is Lewis who rouses the group from their gloom. He points to the horizon.
A herd of caribou charges toward the hunters, and in their midst there is a majestic bull. The men throw themselves to the ground and wait, hearts racing, their breathing shallow, as adrenaline surges through their bodies: “600 meters, 520, 440, 370, 290, 250 ...” (650 yards, 570, 480, 400, 320, 270…) Frederik counts down the distance, while Pedro spots the bull through his rifle scope and confirms it. He pulls the trigger. The bullet enters directly behind its shoulder. Incredible! It’s done.
The hunters are overjoyed with this last-minute triumph. After a week spent battling the elements in the mountains without a caribou to be seen, they cannot believe their luck. Their GPS tells them they are 12 kilo-meters (7.5 miles) from the car. With their heavy packs, this means a good six or seven hours of walking.
Shattered, they finally reach the car at midnight after 17 hours on their feet. They weigh their backpacks. They have been carrying close to 63 kilograms (139 pounds). A strenuous week full of hardships is coming to an end, but this will just heighten the men’s sense of pride when they look back on this amazing experience. The trip has been more than worthwhile.
4,000 to 5,000 wild caribou are permitted to be culled annually in order to prevent the population outstripping the available grazing land. The hunting season runs from August 20 to the end of September.
All hunters have to be registered in the Norwegian hunting register and pay the hunting license fee. Hunting big game requires you to pass a shooting proficiency test or provide proof that you met equivalent requirements in your home country. Do not forget to bring your hunting card.
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Pedro Ampuero lives and breathes hunting. His hunting adventures have taken him to some of the world’s remotest corners, but his homeland, Spain’s Basque Country, is always in his heart. Growing up surrounded by sheep, hunting rifles, dogs, and hunting books, he went on his first hunting trip with his father when he was just five years old. Quite simply, for the Ampuero family hunting is part of life. What he loves most is the sense of freedom that he experiences when he is out in the wild. Pedro loves the challenge of confronting nature’s mighty elements.
If you would like to know why it was a struggle to even find water during the norway expedition, check out Pedro’s blog.
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