Joesfine Bergs - Rock Ptarmigan Hunting
Joesfine Bergs - Rock Ptarmigan Hunting in Norway
Daylight began to break through after an hour of steep hiking up into the mountains behind us, reaching the terrain where we could expect the badass Rock Ptarmigan to hang out.
From nowhere, the fog suddenly laid a blanket over the mountain tops around us, and the snow started to fall. Man, we were promised sun today... Definitely not this! But up here, you never know. Hunting in this area of northern Norway is associated with unpredictable weather, no roads and absolutely no mobile phone connection, so you kind of have to know what you're doing up here.
We patiently waited, and tried to glass for the Ptarmigans we heard burping around us in the fog. They are so well camouflaged and were probably just laughing at us as the mountains got covered in the perfect amount of snow for their "in between autumn and winter coat".
We had a snack, and luckily the fog cleared just enough for us to start the hunt.
"There! I see two birds, wait three, four, five, six birds. 200m away! Do you see that big rock up there? The white area to the left of that. Yeah, I see them too!"
Now we just had to find a way to sneak up on them. This time of year they take off way before you're able to reach them with a shotgun. The traditional rifle hunting is therefore the way to go, and the 17hmr is my choice for this.
This group didn't plan to get shot at, and decided to fly off when I was 80 metres away. We saw them land 300m away on the other side of a lake, so we decided to give it another go. This time I had better cover, and managed to lay down at 80m. Pheeeew, the group took wings once again. But one lay still on the ground this time - hit!
Suddenly, the mountains were burping all over, and we saw birds randomly flying around in search of food and places to rest for the day. The sun even broke through the clouds and our smiles went from ear to ear. It was so nice to experience that number of birds in the area again, as its been many, many years since its been this good.
We got two more birds, and we decided to stop for lunch by a small lake. The few birch trees around it even gave us the opportunity to make a fire to warm our frozen hands and get a hot coffee. -6 degrees now!
After lunch, the birds had settled for the day and no more burping was heard. This definitely makes them way more challenging to find. We hiked for an hour and suddenly a group of 30 flying birds appeared against the mountainside 500m away, we saw them land on top of another peak. On the way there, two different groups of birds flew up but decided to fly out of reach, so we kept hiking for the larger group.
Reaching and rounding the peak where we thought they had landed, we found them just 25m away. This gave Isak the chance to actually fire the shotgun he had been carrying around the whole day just in case. Two birds in one shot wrapped up the day pretty well, and we started the hike down the mountain again with our packs full of everlasting memories and some top raws!
Hunting for the rock Ptarmagin at this time of year will definitely not supply you with much meat. But there is just so much more to it! The stunning surroundings, and not to mention the feeling when you succeed in challenging these birds in their true elements, thats why we get out there!
I'll be back!
- Joesfine and Isak