For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed about the Arctic, and Greenland in particular. As a child I visited my uncle and aunt who had lived there for several years. Their home was marked by their time up there with traditional Inuit art, sperm whale teeth, and a large musk ox skin on the wall. I remember letting my hands disappear into the soft dark wool. I have no doubt that this stimulated my Arctic dream, the dream about great pristine wilderness, cold and inhospitable, yet still so alluring. My desire for the great desolate wilderness even grew when I started hunting and reading stories about hunting caribou and musk oxen. The tales seemed so real to me, as if it were in my blood to follow these herds of animals, to hunt them in the landscape they are created to master. I had to do it, but I was hungry for more than “just” an ordinary hunting trip. I wanted the full experience of the Arctic and the hunt for these Arctic giants. I wanted to chase them on my own, get to know them, and experience the course of the year. I decided to look for work in Greenland to settle there, and get access to all the hidden opportunities on the world’'s largest island. After a year and a half of sporadic searching, I found a job in Sisimiut, Greenland’'s second largest town with 5,500 inhabitants. The town is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, with the Strait of Davis to the west and the Greenland ice sheet to the east. Between Sisimiut and the ice sheet is a large backcountry that houses the biggest caribou population in Greenland, and closer to the ice sheet you find the core area for musk oxen in West Greenland, Kangerlussuaq.
If you are a hunter, fisherman, or just an outdoorsman, it is difficult to find a place that offers more unique opportunities than Greenland. Many of them are difficult to reach for tourists, even as a resident it can be difficult to get around in this big, rough, roadless country.
As a resident of Greenland and with a valid hunting license you get access to hunt both caribou and musk oxen. The number of licenses issued depends on where you live and varies from year to year. Musk licenses are often issued as ballot tags. In addition to big game hunting of caribou and musk oxen, an ordinary hunting license allows you to hunt grouse, hares, foxes, seals, and various seabirds. The hunt for walruses, narwhals, and polar bears is reserved for the professional Inuit hunters.
The hunting season for musk oxen is divided into two periods. The fall period runs from August 1st to October 15th, and While the winter hunting for the local hunters takes place in January and February, the period for international hunters runs from March to mid-April. The two seasons both offer unique experiences, and which season to choose must be up to the individual hunter. The fall hunts will often offer great physical effort in the form of hiking while searching for a shootable bull, and also after the bull is shot when trophy and meat must be returned to camp. All meat must be carried home, as it is not allowed to leave edible parts of the animal behind. The winter hunt does not require as much hiking and carrying, as you use a snowmobile or dog sled. Instead, the physical challenge is fighting the cold. When the temperature drops below -20°C (-4°F), a lot of energy is spent on just keeping the body warm, and you have to be mindful every time you remove your gloves to operate your firearm or binoculars. As a non-resident hunter however, the conditions are very different during the winter hunt because the season for international hunters is later in the year, and therefore the days are longer and you will not have to spend as much time on the snowmobile.
The musk ox in particular seemed iconic to me, and the opportunity to hunt this prehistoric species became my big dream. During the four years I lived in Greenland, I was lucky enough to get licenses for both winter and summer hunts. Apart from the hunting objective, the two forms of hunting are almost incomparable.
Malte Nyholt is a Danish author and outdoor enthusiast. He has always had a great interest in nature and spent much of his childhood watching birds and wildlife. He started hunting at the age of 16 and has been hunting in most of northern Europe, as well as South Africa and New Zealand. He spent four years living in Greenland to follow his dream of hunting in the north. Malte works as a teacher and has been sharing his passion for the outdoors for over six years runs a smallthrough his project Nordica Outdoors, @nordicaoutdoors.
A lot of time is spent scouting for musk oxen on the endless tundra, so a good pair of binoculars is indispensable, preferably with a built-in rangefinder as it is difficult to judge distances in the open landscape without trees or other reference points.
For the conditions you will meet in Greenland I suggest a light scope such as the Z6i 2.5-15x44 P BT.
I had the great pleasure of bringing my light ATS 65 spotting scope on my hunts, but it is not a must and often you will find a spotting scope in the camp.