We´ve had snow on the ground for almost two weeks now but today settled the case, rain and above zero –temperatures that we´ve had for a few days melted the rest of it. Even the lakes, excluding the bigger ones, were frozen already but they´re ice-free now. Winter is just behind the corner one could say so it´s time to write a little summary concerning the things that have been going on here in Hossa and yet again, give you a little glimpse what happens in the lives of local people during this time of year.
The annual grouse hunting season takes place in September and October and lasts for about seven weeks. For many enthusiastic hunters in Finland it´s the highlight of the year and I enjoy it very much too, active outdoor activity and pure nature observation being the main reasons for it. Thinking of the delicious meal made out of a bird that you´ve hunted yourself might distract your attention but the catch can´t be the main thing, this has to be kept in mind!
During October on my free time, I´ve been walking in the forests of Hossa and training my dog Ruska. The Nordic Spitz is a very old race designed to seek out and find the game and start barking at it. During the time when squirrels and their skin were considered money, these types of dogs were widely used to hunt them. With birds, this means that the dog either spots the bird on the treetops or it forces the bird to fly and hopefully make it sit on a nearby tree. While the dog barks the bird and draws its attention, the hunter can try to get on to a good position to take the shot.
We had many good situations but this autumn went to learning as Ruska was only 8 months old and the season ends tomorrow already. A few pictures of how Ruska has grown this year and a few taken on our training walks together. A woodpecker had done a thorough and systematic job knocking the bark off this spruce, maybe it was this three-toed one (Picoides tridactylus) that I saw flying around.
At the end of September, the moose hunting season began. There isn´t many households that are not affected by it; if it´s not your father or husband who goes hunting, then it´s probably your grandfather or your neighbor. Ladies participate too! Hunting is allowed subject to authorization and it´s highly regulated: the amount of licenses that a certain hunting club gets is based on population calculations and the hunters who can participate needs to fill the requirements concerning shooting and other regulatory approvals. This way the hunting is kept sustainable and safe and the same strict regulations concern bird hunting also.
Moose are hunted mainly for the meat and the hunters and landowners really get a quite nice amount of it for the winter due to the big size of the animals. But the economic importance cannot be overlooked as the state saves hundreds of thousands when it doesn´t have to compensate for the damages that the animals cause in commercial forests owned by private forest owners. The amount of fatal car accidents reduces also. For the locals, moose hunting is a very social event; it´s about strengthening the ties inside the community, catching up with people, cherishing the traditions and of course enjoying the thrill and excitement of the hunt itself.
This year I had the privilege to arrange for our foreign guests a chance to participate in the hunt and get a closer look at this annual phenomenon. Local hunting clubs arranged the hunt and accepted our guests as part of their group, thereby they had a real once in a lifetime experience that they shared with local people. I want to thank all the clubs for making it happen!