Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Who's the hunter?

Hilde links to this article on hunting and hunters in Norway. As Hilde points out, it is quite stereotypical and simple minded. I don't recognize my hunter friend in this at all.

If possible, we buy a calf or yearling deer from a farmer and hunter I have known since childhood. He owns the farm surrounding the house where my mother grew up - the land which today is our summer paradise. He is the same age as me, a man with a warm sense of humour, a generous attitude towards my nomadic family that occasionally spends a few weeks living in the middle of his land, and a friendly dose of curiosity towards what we do with our lives.

His passion (apart from his family and the farm itself) is hunting, and owning a farm on the Norwegian West-Coast lets him do exactly that. He has a quota of game as part of the land he owns, and as many of the other people in the area where he lives are too old to hunt their own quota, he also shoots for several other farms. This means that he spends the autumn weeks out in all kinds of miserable weather. It also means that the rest of the year he is studying the deer, preparing. Walking the mountains and fields about his farm he studies the deer. He knows their paths and where they mate, he knows where they graze and where they drink, their habits and their hiding spots.

When I come to pick up the meat, it hangs neatly cleaned in his barn. He can tell me where he shot the animal, and laughs and complies when I question him about its last meal. Over the years he has told me that "this one will taste less of game than the others, because I have seen it on the fields most of the summer" or "this is nice and plump, the mother was very close, we had shot her and then we had to shoot the calf as well - lucky we still had one left on the quota." It is all part of the ritual: visiting with him, updating on what we are up to, seeing how his children grow, asking about his parents, telling him about the failing health of my mother. He is a link to an area that somes as close as any for being where my nomadic family has roots, and we enjoy this little ritual from both sides.

This doesn't really say much about him as a hunter though, it is more about him as a nice person, somebody I like to have as part of both my past and my present. What speaks of his skill as a hunter is how the deer has been shot. Sometimes there has been some bleeding, and he tells me he won't really charge much for those parts. Sometimes the death has been almost instantenous, and he has a touch of price in his friendly face as he decribes the shot. But over the 15 years I have been buying deer from him, they have all, every single one, been killed with one shot. He never shoots unless he knows he can kill the animal as quickly and as humanely as possible. One shot to the chest, stopping the heart or filling the lungs with blood, causing the animal to collapse and die very quickly. He never brags at this, but takes pride in the meat being clean and as undamaged as possible.

This is the hunter for me, the man who supplies his family and his "tribe" with meat, expertly, quietly and with great pride in his skill but very little posturing. While hunting is a passion with him it isn't the passion of the half-skilled player of games, it is the passion of the professional, tempered with skill and knowledge.


Mamod Hamze said...

Har du den boken som du har skrevet om blogging på norsk. Det kunne ha vært bra hvis det finnes på Norsk.

Torill said...

Det er et par artikler, og de er bare på engelsk. Linkene finnes på siden av bloggen.

Anonymous said...

Are you going to weigh in on the great yummy seal hunting as touriste experience furore, too? (Me and my touriste zloties are holding out for yummy whales instead, as it happens.)

Des von Bladet

Torill said...

Des, the seals as tourist fun is something I have absolutely no opinion on. Why don't you and the Swedish king discuss that with your travel agency? As for whale meat, it's not as yummy as you might think, kind of like steak fried in cod liver oil. If you really want to eat that, feel free.