Tim Pilbeam heads to the famous Mamima Jakt in Sweden to learn how they train the brave boar hunting dogs, and then heads out boar hunting himself with a Sauer 303.
After a five-minute wait, we hear the dog barking. “Okay, Molle has found a boar. She is 150m away to the west on the top of that rocky piece of ground in front of us. Time to go.”
Without any delay my guide and host, Lars, strides off with purpose. I feel my pulse rising a little in anticipation of what lies ahead. As the dog is wearing a GPS transmitter, Lars looks at his handheld receiver every five minutes to check we are on the right track.
We quietly scramble up the 20m-high outcrop, covered in short native pine trees. At the same time I notice the barking is now a consistent rhythm, indicating that she is baying the boar. My heartbeat rises to another level.
Lars slows down and motions me to make ready my Sauer 303 semi-auto. Suddenly, the monotonous barking transforms into a high-pitched yelp, as we see the dog bolting out from the thick cover followed by a very angry boar.
The hunter is now the hunted but, more concerning, they are both heading in our direction. Is it true that boar charge humans? What the hell do we do?!
Fortunately, the boar takes a quick look at us, spots a gap in the trees and escapes, but it was no more than 15m away! No time for a shot. Well, to be honest, I was not quite ready.
“Hey Tim, you have to be faster! Don’t forget we are now in the ‘angry, nasty, aggressive enclosure’ and anything can happen. This is proper Swedish boar hunting with dogs!”
Welcome to boar hunting in beautiful Sweden, three hours to the south of Stockholm. Another Rucksack and Rifle film for Fieldsports Britain visiting Mamima Jakt, under the careful guidance of Lars Schepler and his son Michael, where they train dogs to hunt moose and boar.
This magnificent facility also includes a comprehensive clay pigeon shooting layout, rifle range and 185 hectares of formerly agricultural land, now transformed into lakes supporting over 95 different species of birds with second-to-none duck flighting. This is a serious outfit.
In the UK, we are able to train our gundogs by painstakingly introducing them to game, and with careful love, care and hours of training, we will hopefully have an animal we are proud to work with, and one that reflects the years of hard work.
Hunting a powerful 200kg tusker, who is more than happy to make use of its five-inch, razor-sharp tusks, can easily destroy a dog’s confidence in one outing, not to mention seriously injure it. This is a very different game. A good hunting dog is a serious investment and it needs to know what it is doing!
A little background studying makes interesting reading (bearing in mind the UK boar population is on the increase) and, as a farmer myself, I would be rather concerned if I was living in Sweden.
A few years ago I had a solitary two-year-old boar ploughing up my fields, and all I can say is that it did not last very long! In the 1800s, wild boar were nearly hunted to extinction in Sweden, and for 200 years the country was more or less boar-free with the exception of a few in captivity. In the late 1970s, a few escaped from enclosures with 300 being recorded around Stockholm as ‘free living’.
Fast forward 30 years and there is now an estimated 150,000–200,000 wild boar in Sweden, with most concentrated in the warmer middle and southern areas of the country.
Healthy boar populations can double every 2.7 years without any form of control, and I understand that, despite 90,000 being hunted every year, the population could still double every five years! You do the maths.
Some would argue that the noticeable increase in fauna and flora, due to the boar extensively ploughing up the ground, is a positive benefit to the Swedish ecosystem, but the effect it has on the farmers, the increase in road-traffic accidents, and the problem of boar encroaching on towns also need to be considered.
This has transformed the hunting market in Sweden, and hunting with dogs is becoming a more accepted way to control the boar. Recent surveys state that 60% are culled by ‘still hunting’ (high seats, etc), 18% by driven or walking hunts with dogs, and a further 16% culled for crop protection.
In Sweden, there are two different types of dog used for hunting, depending upon the type of hunt. If you are walking, the dog is normally allowed to run free. When it finds a moose or boar it will follow it and, when the animal stops, it will stay close and bark loudly to draw the hunter in.
Nowadays, the hunter will have a GPS that will give him the exact location of the dog, indicating whether it is running or standing still. These dogs are normally jämthunds, grahunds, karelsks, björnhunds or laikas. If you are on a driven hunt, the shooter will be static, and the dogs will push or drive the game towards the Guns. For this, wachtels, kopoys, terriers, posovski gonskis, spaniels or nivenje are some of the more popular breeds. During our visit, we experienced how the dogs are trained to track and hold boar, hopefully without getting injured. They normally need to be over 14 months old before facing such an aggressive beast.