Guns and Hunting In Sweden
By Christian Bondesson
Sweden, with only about 9 million inhabitants, is not very crowded. There are vast lands, mainly in the north, with few or no people at living there at all. You can hunt just about everywhere in the country, although the hunting is always connected to land owning or on leased hunting grounds. The big event of the year for most of Sweden's 300,000 hunters is the moose hunt, which starts in late September. In the rural north many smaller companies even shut down their business for the first week of this season.
Sweden has a fair number of game species to hunt, of which the roe deer is probably next after the moose in popularity. In addition to the roe we have two species of bigger deer in the southern part of the country, where the wild-boar population has also grown dramatically over the last few decades.
Rabbits, both European hare (lepus europaeus) and mountain hare (lepus timidus) are very popular small game. We call them "field hare" and "mountain hare." The latter is brown in the summer and white in the winter. Brown bear, lynx, wolf and wolverine are also present, mainly in the northern half of the country, but hunting of these predators is strictly regulated by law.
We often use dogs to assist in hunting. Slow hounds, e.g. dachshund and basset, are used to get the roe deer in front of the shooter. Faster hounds are believed to put too much stress on the animal and are considered unethical.
Faster hounds are use for hunting hare and fox, and pointing dogs are used for fowling (pointer, setter). We have special hounds for moose hunting, where the hunters wait in stands for the animal to pass by, driven by the dogs. (I don't know what the moose-hunting breeds are called in English, but they look sort of like a Siberian husky.)
Fowling is represented with pheasants in the rural south, grouse in the far north, and black grouse and capercaille inhabiting the woodlands in between. There are also ducks and geese. Shot sizes from US #1 to #7 are used for bird hunting and the most popular shotgun gauge is 12.
As far as rifles and cartridges are concerned, bolt action rifles in .30-06, 308 Winchester, and 6.5x55 are the most common calibers for hunting moose and deer. Some use the more powerful 9.3mm cartridges for moose, but they are not seen in great numbers. The growing popularity of wild boar hunting has created an interest in larger calibers. A 6.5x55 is clearly not the best choice for a big razorback . . . .
Shotguns with rifled slug loads have risen in popularity for wild boar hunting. Many hunters also use shotguns with slugs for hunting fallow deer. Only single-barreled shotguns are allowed for use with slugs, which poses a problem for many hunters since the typical shotgun in Sweden is the two-barrel "over and under."
Gun ownership is strictly regulated in Sweden. An experienced hunter is allowed to own a maximum of six guns; less experienced hunters may own only 4 guns. All gun owners must be registered and every gun purchase requires a new license from the local police authority (which costs about $20). Pistols and revolvers are very difficult to obtain a license for, and active membership in a registered shooting club is required.
Being convicted of a crime that results in a prison sentence always revokes all gun licenses. Even lesser crimes, for instance threats, can result in gun licenses being revoked. Most Swedes accept that it is the government's and law enforcement's business to make sure that criminals are unarmed.
Copyright 2002, 2003 by Christian Bondesson. All rights reserved.