The first top prize winner of the YESWEHUNT member-gets-member competitions (phase 1) was Filip Lerno from Belgium. The prize was a White-tailed deer hunting trip to the Fiskars Village in Finland. And what a trip it turned out to be.
The 80 minutes drive from the airport to the Fiskars Village through the snow covered countryside passed rapidly. We booked in at the Hotel-Restaurant Fiskars Wärdshus knowing that we would only have an hour to change into our hunting outfits and be ready for a two hour high seat session. I gave Filip his Finnish hunting card, some other hunting gear and a short but thorough introduction how to operate my silenced Sako 75 SS in caliber .260 Rem and the telescopic sight Swarovski 3-12 x 50 with an illuminated reticle.
At the car park we met the Hunting and fishing manager Thomas Stenström and Game keeper Sami Jernström of the Fiskars company. Thomas gave us instructions and 30 minutes later Filip was left alone in a high seat. We agreed that Filip should call me if he fired a shot. Two hours passed without any phone calls and at 6 p.m. we picked Filip up. He had seen 15 deer, all does and calves.
There are deer, everywhere
The next morning we gathered at the market square of the Fiskars Village. It was going to be the last hunting day of the season for the Fiskars company. Filip and I were the only guests and the other hunters were locals that had helped the company during the season. Thomas held a short briefing explaining that any kind of deer could be shot and that there were no restrictions in number. His special instruction was not to shoot a buck that had shed the antlers.
In the first beat the deer were cleverer than us. In the second beat I was posted down by a shore of a frozen lake, Filip was in the middle 100 meters to the left of me and a fellow hunter was left of Filip. Our posts were in a narrow valley between two rocky hills and a strong deer path went just by Filip’s post. After 20 minutes I could see deer walking slowly on top of the hill in front of us. I counted 4 deer and they stopped only 80 meters ahead of the shooting line. I was nervous and sweaty that they would spot us and turn away.
Luckily Robi, a Border terrier, started to bark behind the hill and suddenly more deer joined the 4 earlier ones. When the dog got closer the deer started slowly to descend in a queue, straight into Filip´s lap, all 8 of them. Anxiously I waited and waited for a shot and finally one shot was fired and after some seconds a second one. The whole herd spread in all directions and within some minutes I could hear more shots.
When the situation calmed down I could resist finding out what Filip had shot. When I climbed from the shore to the higher ground I could see Filip still at his post and two dark figures were laying along the deer path. He had chosen two calves from the heard of does and calves and like a professional hunter he dropped them both on the spot. Three more deer were shot from the same beat.
During the break we made an open fire on a snowy forest road. To Filip’s astonishment the fire was ready in a couple of minutes. And this is the way how to do it. You take the dry fire twigs out of the boot, flush them with charcoal lighter fluid and light them up. Then you take your seat, sit down by the fire, warm yourself, extend the telescopic sausage pin and start baking your sausage. Voila!
After a snack a third beat was taken with a bag of 3 deer.
The game is not over until the fat lady sings!
At 3 p.m. Thomas and I left Filip at a high seat on an undisturbed hunting area. Some 20 minutes later Thomas left me in another high seat several kilometers away from Filip. I knew that Filip would concentrate only on the bucks so I was free to bag a doe or a calf. I had sat in my blind for only 30 minutes when I could see 2 deer approaching the feeding station. It was a doe and a calf. Without any hesitations and fear they walked straight to the feed. And there was still plenty of daylight left. I took some pictures and after a while there were 5 deer on the spot. Suddenly they all lifted their heads, looked into the forest, lifted their tales and in a split of a second they were gone.
After 40 minutes it started to get dark and the following deer were coming closer. But these deer were much more spooked. They stayed within 100 meters but did not come closer. Just after 5 p.m. a calf came to the feed and started to eat. A little bit later a doe approached but stayed some 15 meters behind the station. It just stood there, looked straight towards the high seat and listened. When it turned sideways I fired a .338 Win Mag shot. A huge muzzle blast blinded me for a second.
There was plenty of hair and tissue on the snow where the bullet hit the deer. After some 35 meters I found my doe in a unfrozen stream. When Thomas and I were retrieving the doe I got a text message from Filip: “I had a shot.” My heart made an extra beat because this would mean only one thing, a buck.
Filip was still at his blind when we arrived. He told us that the first deer came just after 5 minutes we left him. Altogether some 30 deer had visited his post and out of those 3 had been bucks without antlers. Just before 6 p.m. he could see a deer entering the feeding station. With binoculars Filip could see antlers but not through the telescopic sight. Eventually he was convinced that it was a buck with antlers and he pulled the trigger.
We could not find any loose hair or blood. There were several tracks of fleeing deer and I started to feel nervous. I hoped that it would not be a missed shot. Then Thomas found some tiny drops of blood on a branch and some 30 meters away a dead buck. You can only imagine our joy and my relief as a host. It was the only buck with antlers still on out of around 60 deer that were seen during the hunt.
The cherry on top of the ice cream
At breakfast we had asked the staff of the hotel to warm us a sauna for our last evening. We wanted to warm and wash ourselves before the farewell dinner. To our amazement we were the only guests in the restaurant on that Saturday evening. Despite that the chef had prepared a treat for us. The dinner consisted of six different seasonal delicacies.
I cook and I love good eating so I want to share our dining experience with you. The first course was a Russian bilini with Whitefish roe, sour cream and finely chopped onion. It was followed by slightly salted sirloin of White-tailed deer with porcini brûlée, Burbot soup with rye bread of the house, herb gratinated Pikeperch with lemon potatoes and beetroot vinaigrette, roasted tenderloin of lamb with garlic risotto and as a dessert Pavlova with passion fruit curd. Because we were so modest we skipped the dessert and had some Irish coffee instead.
The dinner lasted for several hours and we really enjoyed every minute of it, not to mention the good wine and the lively conversations with the owner Mrs. Marja Karlsson.
I have never met Filip before but during the weekend we found out that we do get along very well and that we even have a mutual acquaintance in Belgium. What a small world!
At the end of the movie “Casablanca” Rick says to Captain Renault: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” And that is what YESWEHUNT is all about, connecting people (sorry Nokia) and making friendships!
Counsellor Scandinavian countries