The Capercaille Hunt in Norway: A Journey of Nature, Tradition, and Friendship

Just before Christmas 2023, two NORMA Ambassadors embarked on a capercaillie hunt in Norway. Read their hunting story here.

The Capercaille Hunt in Norway

Just a week ahead of Christmas 2023 I crossed the boundaries of the usual winter tranquility and went on an adventure into the Norwegian wilderness. Invited by Simon, a friend and fellow Norma ambassador I had met during the Norma 120 years anniversary Moose Hunt in Sweden, this journey meant more to me than just hunting capercaillie. It was a profound dive into the heart of nature, an exploration of a rich cultural tradition, and a strengthening of the bonds of friendship.

The Beginning of the Adventure

My journey commenced with a flight from Prague to Oslo, followed by another flight to Molde, Norway, where Simon welcomed me at the airport. A breathtaking five-hour drive eastward through the stunning landscapes prepared us for the thrilling experiences that awaited. I have witnessed the scale of the Norway’s beauty, from its rainy coastal climate to the much colder, frozen, snow-covered mountains.

In Norway, "Toppjakt" or capercaillie hunting is deeply intertwined with the local culture. It requires a combination of skill, patience, and an understanding of the unique behaviors of these birds, particularly their tendency to feed on pine needles high in the treetops. Over the course of two days, we skied nearly 30 kilometers across challenging terrain. This traditional hunting method allowed us to experience tough nature, testing our physical limits and nurturing a primal connection with the wild. We traversed an untouched, pristine white landscape, free from human influence. Our spirits remained high, with favorable weather conditions for most of the days, with temperatures hovering around -12°C and sunny skies, along with a mild wind. We spent a night between the two hunting days in a cozy lodge.

The Lodge: A Haven in the Wild

A simple hunting lodge, devoid of modern conveniences, served as our sanctuary in the wild. This basic yet snug shelter, equipped with a stove and a stockpile of firewood, shielded us from the biting Norwegian cold during the nights. It was an ideal backdrop for sharing stories and experiences over cups of tea. Simon prepared a delicate "jegergryte," a stew made from moose meat, mushrooms, peas, and red berries – a culinary delight after an exhausting day! Sleeping in a lodge deep within the forest offered an unparalleled sleeping experience, a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of urban life.

The Hunt: A Test of Skill and Patience

I hunted using a 6.5x55 SE caliber rifle, sighted with Norma Golden Target ammunition, specifically designed for precision. I configured the ballistic profile using the Norma Ballistic app and made adjustments for bullet drop up to 300 meters, taking into account the muzzle velocity in similar hunting conditions. Using a full metal jacket or target bullet is imperative to preserve the quality of the meat. In "Toppjakt," hunting is not merely a sport but primarily about obtaining high-quality capercaillie meat.

Regrettably, despite our thorough preparations and Simon's expertise, the capercaillie remained elusive. We spotted several birds but fell just short of the necessary stroke of luck to get within approximately 200-250 meters sight. The birds had their own plans, disappearing like ghosts just before we could close the distance. Even with an excellent guide and favorable conditions, a bit of luck is essential.

Conclusion: A Diverse Array of Experiences

My hunting excursion in Norway shed light on the intricate relationship between humanity and nature. Confronted with the true wilderness, one comprehends the importance of approaching nature with respect and embracing it with humility. When in challenging conditions, having a dependable companion to help overcome these obstacles is crucial. These hunts are, above all, about friendship and trust. Hunting forges friendship.

While we didn't manage to hunt any capercaillie, the experience was priceless. This adventure served as a reminder of the uniqueness of hunting. It was, undoubtedly, one of the most intense and exhilarating hunting trips of past seasons. I owe all these new memories to my friend Simon, who opened up new horizons for me. For this, I am sincerely grateful. With my fingers crossed, I hope for another opportunity, perhaps next year.

Martin Brozek
NORMA Ambassador, Czech Republic