Elk hunting season in Finland began on Saturday, 13 October and runs through 31 December, with 54,653 hunting permits issued this year.
Walking about in the woods with a loaded shotgun comes with many safety protocols, especially when in some cases the hunting area can coincide with activities in a recreational outdoor area – including all-terrain bike and jogging trails and Frisbee golf courses.
“The best shot is sometimes the one you don’t take,” hunt organiser Erkki Koskinen from Jyväskylä said. “There are people picking mushrooms and berries in these woods, so we have to take care.”
As mandated by law hunters are required to wear bright orange clothing in order to be more visible among the surrounding trees.
Game increasingly common in urban areas
Sightings of elk and other game are becoming more common in urban environments, according to the Finnish Wildlife Agency. As they spread they lead hunters closer to homes, highways and roads.
“It’s actually the settlements and recreational areas that are spreading out into the wild, where we’ve always hunted,” says local hunter Jyrki Rahikkala.
Finland’s Hunting Act includes laws and guidelines for hunting that occurs in semi-urban environments, stating that hunting may not pose a threat or cause damage to any human or their property. Discharging firearms is not allowed within 150 metres of a house.
“There’s no need for joggers to fear a hunter’s bullet,” says Jyväskylä city sports facility chief Kari Häkkinen. “As long as everyone in the forest respects and notices one another, there’s room in the woods for all.”
Related stories from around the North:
Finland: Finnish conservation group offers bounty to catch wolf poacher, Yle News
Norway: Grouse declines lead to strict hunting regulations in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Hunters push to end Sweden’s ban on bow hunting, Radio Sweden
United States: Trump admin pushes for looser rules on predator hunting in Alaska, Alaska Public Media