Tested To The Edge

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Leica Sport Optics, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Leica Sport Optics

    Leica Sport Optics SPONSOR Since 2016 AH Veteran

    Nov 21, 2016
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    Part 1.
    When I received a mysterious invitation one morning, it was hard to say no. It read: “Meet at Stockholm airport. Bring comfortable walking boots and a toothbrush. Nothing else,” was the gist of it. The title? “Tested to the Edge”. This was going to be a far cry from many such trips offered to journalists, clearly. I wasn’t expecting five-star luxury and boy was I right…
    Once at Stockholm, myself and six other journalists were ushered onto another plane, this time heading to Luleå, in Swedish Lapland, some 900km north of Stockholm. Joined by representatives of the various brands involved in the escapade: Swazi, Hornady, Mauser and Leica, and Conrad Allen – a survival expert, we started trying to guess what was in store. Even our wildest speculations didn’t come close to the reality we found ourselves in 48 hours later.


    A further four hours by vehicle, saw us arrive at our base camp. Traditional and comfortable log cabins, warm food and a roaring fire, and a full and deep night’s sleep lulled us into a false sense of security. The next morning we were issued with clothing, provided by Davey Hughes of Swazi, who was part of the group, before Conrad started putting us through our paces and teaching us the basics of survival in this cold and hostile environment. Rifles were zeroed, safety drills were explained and we mentally prepared for three days and nights of surviving in the wilderness.

    Fortunately for us the kit bag contained a pair of Leica Geovid 8×42 HD-B rangefinder binoculars. These little beauties would prove to be a godsend when trying to track down our quarry later on in the trip.


    We set off, just before daybreak, at 6am, a temperature of -10°C warning of the freezer-like conditions that we would have to endure. The hike in wasn’t difficult, as such, the terrain gently undulating, but it was pure wilderness. It is the most pristine wilderness you can find in western Europe. Our guide, Tommy Holmberg, explained that it was all part of a national park, but that we were heading for an area that was privately owned, which is why we could hunt there – there is no hunting allowed in the government-owned areas.

    As we marched, a few of the group separated to follow Tommy and his Spitz dog, in an attempt to shoot a few capercaillie for our supper. The rest of us trudged on, knowing we would need to make camp before dark, and that we might not find food.

    After a punishing day of hiking, we had, by four pm, covered 15km of this wild landscape, arriving at a delta – small groups of trees and plenty of water made this a good spot to camp, and, according to Tommy, it was in the right area for the moose: “The cows and calves live here, and now that it is the rut, the bulls will come as well.”


    Under Conrad’s orders, we set about building our camp – the temperature was dropping fast, and the light was fading, so time was precious. The team became abuzz with activity – chopping wood, finding moss to insulate our shelters and birch bark to start the fires. A basic shelter, using branches as a windbreak, and moss as our bed, would have to do for the night – for by now it was too dark to do more. The fire had been lit, using a flint and steel, and we gathered around it, warmed in spirit if not in body. The delta provided plenty of water sources, but it was essential to boil it if we were not to subject ourselves to any bacteria.


    The hunger hadn’t kicked in that evening – I think we were all too shell-shocked by our situation to consider food. The cold, however, was bitter beyond belief. Shifts were taken to keep the fire going, and no-one minded being the watcher, as it was a welcome distraction from not being able to sleep, and chopping wood a good way to warm up. It also offered the mesmerizing spectacle of the Northern Lights, the jewel like colours lighting up the sky in a natural show better than any on Broadway.

    I don’t think anyone slept much that night, though the occasional snore suggested some caught a few snatched minutes of rest. We rose before dawn, hunger now making its presence felt. Beating away hunger, no one was prepared for what we stumbled upon later that day…


    Simon K. Barr
    Although in his childhood, he often went hunting with his father, Simon’s first love was fly fishing. Later he also developed a passion for hunting on dry land. For Leica, as well as various international hunting magazines, he reports his hunting adventures, which lead him to some of the most remote regions of the world. He loves the great challenge that hunting offers. Together with his wife the 36-year-old hunter lives in Scotland, and he is already looking forward to taking his newborn daughter hunting for the first time.
    Pheroze likes this.

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