A trip for the ages
Haggertys enjoy hunting trek in Norway, Sweden
TINGVOL, Norway — Glenda waited 30 years for this trip, and it’s been everything she expected.
We flew to Norway and Sweden to follow Norwegian Elkhounds on the hunt for Elg (moose) and Red Deer (looks a heck of a lot like our elk).
My dear wife has never hunted before, but the dogs she raises, Norwegian Elkhounds, were born to hunt. They were bred to hunt. They were raised to hunt, and over here, they’ve been hunting with man for centuries.
She always wanted to see them work, and it has been an incredible experience.
Not only did we follow the elkhounds, we followed the offspring of one of Glenda’s dogs, Teague, who won the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America (NEAA) National Championship a few years back.
In a bold move for the Norwegians, Teague was bred to a Norwegian champion named Finney, owned by Lise and Kaare Mathiesen from Oslo. It was bold because in America, we’re not allowed to use dogs to hunt big game like moose, elk and deer. Many Scandinavians were skeptical that our dogs still had any hunting instinct at all.
However, all six of Finney and Teague’s offspring, now three years old, have become excellent hunters and one in particular, a gorgeous female named Arwen, obliterated all skepticism.
These dogs can hunt.
Arwen is a Norwegian Champion, no small feat. That means she’s a champion in the show ring and a champion in the hunting field, as well. To accomplish that, she had to win three field hunting trials. On a long lead, she and her handler had to track for six hours and find a moose with a judge observing. She also had to beat all other dogs hunting on those three days.
Her litter mate and brother, Albin, is well on his way to accomplishing the same. He’s a World Champion, having won at the World Dog Show in Paris, France last year, and is working on his hunting championship. Albin is owned by Maren and Petter Wilberg. Maren is Lise and Kaare’s daughter, and those two really brought this whole trip together.
We were honored to hunt with both dogs and their owners, who hosted us for this once-in-a-lifetime trip (and I’ll have to work until I die to pay for it).
Unn and Asbjorn Rimstad own Arwen. They live in Tingvol on Norway’s west-central coast, less than two kilometers from the Tingvol Fjord.
Have you ever seen a Fjord?
The countryside rising from this spectacular body of water was “the greenest green I’ve ever seen,” Glenda exclaimed.
From the road, the woodlands near Tingvol look similar to Colorado’s. Lots of pine.
Yet the forest lawn is thick, lush, spongy and wet.
We chased Alwen and the hunt for two days with nine of Asbjorn’s hunting partners, who were extremely gracious allowing us to follow. While nothing was harvested when we were there, Asbjorn reported sighting two moose and harvesting one red deer the afternoon we left.
Figures. Noisy Americans. (There were actually four of us — Teague’s co-breeder
Marti Kincaid and her hubby Dennis from Idaho.)
Glenda, however, harvested eight ticks. The little bloodsuckers live here, too.
Our hunt in Sweden was hosted by Arvid Gorannsan, an international dog judge, who donated this hunt as part of an NEAA fundraiser. Kaare Mathiesen and Asbjorn also are internationally renowned dog judges, as is Leif Wilberg, Petter’s father. Glenda and Marti were in dog heaven, questioning these judges about dog breeding, conformation, size, shape, color, bark, and all other things ‘dog.’
“Now, you can see why correct angulation is so important,” said Arvid, discussing what international judges look for in a quality hunting dog one day deep in the woods along Sweden’s west coast.
His Swedish Elkhound, (much different from the Norwegian Elkhound) along with another Norwegian Elkhound were working the woods, one at a time, in search of moose.
These dogs hunted without leads. They roamed the woods (with a GPS so we could keep an eye on them, so to speak), searching. We followed as best we could. The dogs would check in every 25 or 30 minutes, then continue to hunt. If they found something, they would bark and we would follow the sound.
During a normal hunt, they would either chase the game animal to hunters posted across the hillside, or hold the animal in one spot, allowing the hunter to catch up.
It didn’t happen when we were there.
Arvid was born on the farm where we hunted. His father had started the local hunting club in 1934 with three other avid hunters and dog owners. All current members of this distinguished group are related to those original four families, as hunting privileges are passed down from generation to generation, just like Denver Bronco tickets.
Arvid and his wife, Anita, were gracious, sturdy, friendly and strong. Truly lovely people.
Prior to both these hunts, we were hosted and entertained by the Wilberg’s and Mathiesen’s in Oslo and on the farm where Lise grew up about an hour outside Oslo, near Vikersund and the Royal Modum Blaafarvevaerket Cobalt Mine. (Go ahead… try to pronounce that!)
The mine was founded in 1773 to extract cobalt ore, used in the production of blue pigment for glass and ceramics throughout the world. Lise’s family has been here since about that time.
Heather, mountain birch, dwarf birch and shrub willow dominate the woods, along with fir, spruce and pine. Drop dead gorgeous.
Here, we followed Finney, a Norwegian champion and a fabulous hunter. She could hunt on lead or off, and she could hunt all day and all night. What a dog!
Again, no animals were harvested while we were there, but 13 hunters in Kaare’s group saw 16 moose, thanks to Finney. (The moose hunting season hadn’t opened yet when we were there).
We did manage to harvest baskets full of wild blueberries and lingonberries (a cousin to cranberries) and wonderful mushrooms — chanterelles, boletus and many other edible and delectable varieties that Lise knew well.
These Norwegians — they’re all so friendly. The folks we were with, however, were very, very special. So were the dogs, to be sure.
We took them all boxes of Enstrom’s candy. They loved it. But we’ll never be able to repay them for their graciousness and hospitality.
We’ve seen country most tourists never visit. We’ve tasted Kaare’s homemade Akevitt — the Norwegian drink of choice following the hunt (Kaare’s Jaktdram) —– by far he best booze I’ve ever sipped, we’ve dined at their table like kings and queens, and we’ve made life-long friends.
And, Glenda’s dream of one day following the dogs on the hunt came true. It was everything she expected.