Bowhunting on the Alandic Islands

Posted by Greg Traynor - December 22, 2011 - Pro Staff Article - 14 Comments

By Roger Pettersson

Aland (Åland) is a small autonomous region situated in the Baltic Sea between Finland and Sweden with approximately 26,000 people, 30% are hunters. Aland is a part of Finland, but we consider ourselves “Alandics” rather than Finnish. Both hunting and fishing are a great part of our traditions. We have fairly liberal hunting regulations, even though we basically are governed by Finnish laws. We have our own local regulations when it comes to hunting.

Figure 1 “Photo” Picture of the scenic view from the Island of Aland.

Bowhunting:

In Finland, Bowhunting has never really been prohibited and is rather poorly regulated. No special permits or education is required to bow hunt, except needing a hunting permit of course. The bow is not classified as a weapon, therefore you do not need weapons permit/license. You can buy a bow without applying for one. The minimum requirements are 40 lbs of draw weight and 22mm cutting diameter for the broad heads. Smaller game can be harvested with the bow up to Roe deer. Currently the Finnish Bowhunting Association is working on legalizing hunting white tail deer as well, since the white tail deer population is greater than the Roe deer. Bowhunting beavers is also popular among Finnish bowhunters , but it requires the use of bow fishing equipment by law.

Figure 2 “Photo” A successful Archer in Finland with 2 Roe deer does that he harvested.

Aland:

Until 2007, Bow hunting was illegal. After 3 years of hard work, the

Alandic Bowhunting Association <http://www.aba.ax/> successfully convinced the Alandic government that it is a very good method of hunting. Since then we have been allowed to bowhunt.

To hunt in Aland, there are a few things you will need, that are listed below.

1. A valid Alandic hunting permit. To obtain one, you will need a valid hunter’s education certificate from your country.

2. IBEP certification (International Bowhunters Education Program)

3. Any bow i.e. Compound, recurve or long bow are accepted provided (Crossbows are not allowed!!).

4. The arrows minimum weight is 25 grams

5. The cutting diameter of the broad head is at least 25 millimeters (no blunts or judo points)

6. The arrow must produce at least 40 joules of kinetic energy

7. Approved local proficiency test, of 6 3D targets at an unknown distance for the shooter. You need to score 5 approved hits.

We can hunt all available game including white tail deer but not moose. Because of political issues and the way they are hunted, moose are excluded from Bowhunting.

Roe deer is the main game that bowhunters target. There is a large population of Roe deer, even though Aland is a “small” place. The white tail population is fairly good out in the archipelago islands, while on the main island they are scarce. Hunting white tails in the archipelago is a challenge for any experienced hunter. The topography which is almost tundra like offers little cover. The animals can be scattered over many small islands which makes recon very difficult, but necessary in order to be successful.  So far no white tails have been harvested with a bow and arrow here, but I am working hard to change that!

Figure 3 “Photo” A nice Roe deer buck standing in the open. (Photo by Roger Pettersson).

Other game frequently taken with bow and arrow are raccoon dogs and red foxes. The latter is actually more difficult than hunting Roe deer, mainly because of the keen hearing the red fox has. To harvest an adult red fox you can’t afford to make any sound, or you will not even see them, though there are plenty around. Raccoon dogs are a big problem here, and they do not belong to the Alandic fauna. They came to Aland from Russia, where they were breed for fur production. Many have escaped and given the nature of this animal, they have an extra ordinary way of establishing themselves. For over 15 years, raccoon dogs have virtually eliminated woodland foul (ground nesters) to the point where we rarely see any. They also take young hare which used to be very common. In a way they are competing with red foxes and eagles for the same pray.

Outfitters:

There are a few outfitters that provide Bowhunting, I am one of them. The level of experience among the outfitters varies. I have worked with some of them to provide good Bowhunting on their land.  Aland is traditionally a rifle hunting community which is reflected in the knowledge among the outfitters here. That is why it’s important that I help to arrange any bowhunts and help to make the hunt successful.

Season:

Hunting season for Roe deer bucks begins August 15th. The general season starts September 1st. During the August rut the Roe deer are very active and bucks can be called on. They are active 24/7 but due to the fading light during that time of year, 11 pm is usually the time when we stop hunting. Aland does not have any regulations on hours you can hunt. Common sense tells you, it’s time to go home when you can’t see your feet due to darkness. No artificial lights can be used while hunting!

The first week of September is also a good time to hunt Roe deer. It slows down the 3 remaining weeks in September and picks up again in October. I believe there are several reasons for the slow period. First, the rut is over and the bucks aren’t pushing the animals around as much, they are simply exhausted. The Roe deer need to eat food they only find in the wooded areas seasonally. For example mushrooms and their primary food source blue berry bushes. They need to feed on the leaves before they turn brown and fall away which happens in October.

Roe deer are very picky eaters, and also need many different kinds of food and herbs. Clover flowers are something they tend to seek out. They do not seem to feed on grass as much as one would think, since you see them in fields a lot. I have studied what they actually eat, and see they pick flowers rather than straight grass. Toward the end of October, beginning of November they seek sugar rich feed. They focus on wild apples which after a few night of frost accumulate a lot of sugar. Roe deer need sugar rich feed in order to build fat for the coming winter. This is a good time to put apples and potatoes out by your stands, provided of course there has been a frost. The frost/freezing of the apples and potatoes is what starts the sugar production.

The season ends December 30th but one can still hunt red foxes and hare. The raccoon dogs are a semi hibernating animal and depending on the amount of snow they can still be hunted/seen.  The White tail season starts October 10th and ends December 30th.

Aland offers a beautiful hunting experience and also a challenging one. Bowhunting here demands a skilled and patient hunter for sure. But you will be rewarded with a lovely experience, that much I can promise you.

Figure 4 “Photo” The author, Roger Petterson, in the treestand and archery hunting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

14 comments

  • AL says:

    Great story and looks very interesting, I love to bowhunt up there..!

  • Roger, good luck with those Whitetails. Great story, lots of info that I did not know.
    Great Camo Job!!

    Henry

  • Keith O'Dell says:

    Very interesting! Hello Roger, I am an american living in sweden. I grew up in New York state and have been bowhunting all of my life. Since moving to sweden I have been only able to practice shoot but that is ok for now. I am trying to do my hunters education course here but I cannot speak swedish very well. Unfortunately that makes things hard. Hopefully someday I can go on a bowhunt with you up there in åland.

    • Roger says:

      Hi Keith
      It sounds like I should hook you up with some fellow Americans living in Sweden that also bowhunts (if you like) and maybe they can help you out. Here on Åland you can get an Alandic hunting permit if you have a US hunters safety cert and a IBEP cert. Note, I would have to make sure it works given you now living in Sweden, but I see no reason why you could not.

  • chema Perez-Tabernero says:

    Dear sir,
    We are a Spanish bowhunters. We bowhunt since 1980 in many places in the world but never in your wonderfull country. Is not easy to obtain clear informantion about places, prices and more to be sure where you are going and whith, so please give all the details that you consider can be helpfull for booking the hunting tryp.
    Looking for hearing news from you, best regards.

    Chema Perez-Tabernero

  • Kenny says:

    I am coming to Javaskyia in Aug and i am wanting to do some bow hunting any suggestions?

    • Roger says:

      Hi Kenny, I have no real connections in that area, and if you looking to hunt Roedeer Aland is better then actuall Finland, they have a very poor roedeer population there.

  • Rhys Meredith says:

    Hi Rodger,

    As you may or may not know bowhunting is illegal in the England, which is a real pain if you live here and want to try it!

    However, I’m still determind, I’m looking to do my first hunt in September 2013, I’m a keen 3d archer and have been rifle hunting roe deer a couple of times.

    My plan is to do the IBEP course later this year.
    Could you give me a rough guide of the costs of a hunting trip in September for a couple of weeks. I’m not necessarily after trophy animals on my first hunt but i am after deer species.
    Thanks for Your Time
    Rhys

    • Roger says:

      Roger Pettersson Hi , both Denmark and here on Åland you can bowhunt for Roedeer, it’s very difficult to give an good estimate for a two week hunt becuse we all charge differently and also travels and accomodations play a major part in it. Hunting here on Å…land I’d say an average price is about 80 euro/day, just for the hunt trophy fees varies as well as hunting permits etc. if you e-mail me at roger.pettersson@aland.net I can send you prices for the area I provide hunts at.

  • Ricky Mills says:

    The WILD Jaeger Board of Directors (Ricky Mills and John MacCallum) are hunting with Roger from 23-28 August if anyone wants to join our hunting party. We have 2 or 3 slots open in our party of 6 that we need people to fill in. Hunting Roe Deer with archery gear, come join us! To do that, talk with Roger and he will coordinate your hunt.

  • Mark says:

    Moved to Sweden from America in 2012 looking for a place to Bow hunt. I would love to be the first to take a whitetail in Finland. I have taken many over the years with my PSE. Anyone looking for a hunting partner can contact me.

    • Roger Pettersson says:

      Mark, the whitetails are scares on Åland, belive me I have tried for several years to harvest one, but Roedeer is a different ball game 🙂

  • Denny Erickson says:

    Hello Sir,
    Are there Seasons , limits ? I can eat lol
    immigration if no limits? Kidding aside , (kinda) I am retired, now pretty much hunt professionally and recreationally , have video deal with outdoor channel and I would like to film a few hunts with you ..
    Thank You for any help you may provide. .
    Sincerely Yours ,
    Den Erickson
    Magnum Hunting Adventures

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