“It’s been really good to hunt with you.” The statement came from one of the greatest hunters, I have ever met. The man was Tommy Holmberg, the legendary hunting guide from Swedish Lapland, who had once taken a man-eating bear. We were both lounging besides a small wood stove, tired after some hard and successful days of hunting moose. In the few days we had hunted together, we had become great friends, and his praise meant a great deal more to me, than I think he knew. “But you have to come back for a capercaillie hunt in the winter. That is really something really special. That is where you really get to experience the spirit of Swedish Lapland.” Knowing that I had to go back the next day, I was all ears and wide eyes for more adventures in the future.
“It’s not an easy hunt though.” He said in the long low dialect of the Northern Swedes. “You hunt on wooden skies. Shoot very far. And it can get really cold”. He said this with the same matter-of-factness in his voice, as he talked about everything else. In Lapland, they don’t spend unnecessary amounts of words on anything. So, if Tommy said it was a good hunt, then that’s what it was. And of course, I told him I would be back. At that point Tommy could have told me to crawl inside a bear den and hug a sleeping sow, and I would have done it with a smile. All I could dream about was coming back to this place above the arctic circle, to hunt the royal bird of the woods: The Swedish capercaillie.