No, the surprising answer is Sweden. Indeed, hunters in this Scandinavian country kill roughly 100,000 moose a year. They also kill a growing number of brown bears, which are making a dramatic comeback. The latest population figures put the number of bruins in Sweden at about 2,500. The annual hunt quota fluctuates around 140.
So, with all this going on, why isn't Sweden a more important big game hunting destination? The answer has to do with hunting traditions and methods, and with the enormous popularity of resident hunting. Obviously, if 300,000 mostly Swedish hunters are chasing 500,000 moose in a country the size of Sweden, taking about 100,000 trophy and non-trophy animals annually, it stands to reason there is not much room for international hunters. Couple those figures with the fact that Sweden is expensive and you get a double whammy of reasons for hunters to stay away.
Enter Hakan Gyllbring, a veteran guide turned hunting entrepreneur who is determined to make Sweden more specifically the northern region of Sweden known as Lapland - an important destination for international hunters. To that end, he has gotten his hands on some significant tourist development money from the European Union, which he is using to create what he calls a Swedish Lapland Hunting Network.
Gyllbring invited me to Sweden last fall to acquaint me with Swedish hunting methods and to explain to me in person how he plans to turn Sweden into a more important hunting destination. The visit included three separate hunts for moose and the chance to spend time with the country's most dedicated bear hunter, Tommy Holmberg of Nord Guide. Holmberg, who also hunts moose, is pioneering the use of Plott hounds from Canada to pursue bears. By all reports, this promises to be a dangerous game experience of the first order, as brown bears in Sweden are exceptionally aggressive, more........(continued)