Wild Boar Watch in Slippers

As with all the other tourists, Hiiumaa also welcomes hunting tourists. And even if the game is left unshot, the emotion from the local nature, animals and birds is guaranteed in advance.

„It will be clear tomorrow night. The moon will be up at 2 a.m. And then we can sit in the watch-tower above the feeding area and watch the boar. Even in slippers and dressing gown, should someone want, because there´s a stove inside.“ Jaan Pikker, the chief of the Käina hunting district, sounds really tempting with his offer, and one can trust his knowledge of nature as it rests on almost thirty years of hunting experience. The shooting tower is five metres high and the boar won´t smell the smoke from up there. One only has to leave the car far enough, and the deep snow is not suitable for slippers. Those can be brought along, though!

Even if you are not planning to have boar for dinner, the sight under the watch-tower is marvellous. Enn Remmelg, the chief executive of the Hiiu Hunting Association recalls a Russian citizen who had watched for boar in this tower and had called for a car to pick him up around midnight: „There is no boar!“ Remmelg, who has hunting experience for over a quarter of a century, left him sitting there for another half an hour, and when he finally arrived at the tower, the boar-hunter was shaking all over from excitement and said that he had counted sixty animals and had lost count after that. He had been so excited that had forgotten to shoot himself one.

Wild boar, the menace of our island, are not that common elsewhere in Europe. We have even encountered Finns who have seen their first „villisika“ here. And were petrified by what they saw. In several places across Europe the boar is shot in vast enclosures, so hunting tourists are sometimes taken by suprise by the behaviour of our wild game and won´t get the result expected. That´s what happened when some Swedes came to Hiiumaa for three days only, and didn´t see one single animal to shoot.

Fortunately, the Hiiumaa Hunting Association can also provide several examples of the exact opposite. Most of the Estonia´s prettiest deer antlers come from Hiiumaa. Last year, a Finn shot a deer at Pühalepa hunting grounds and got himself an antler crown worthy of the Estonian record and a Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the deer hunt licence is quite a rare and expensive thing. The trophy is evaluated and the hunter can have it for an auction price which can be as expensive as €3000.

Although at first glance shooting large game may seem worthier to a hunter than shooting a woodcock the size of a quail, many come especially to hunt birds. Last year, the Hiiumaa Hunting Association guided about a hundred hunters who had come to shoot geese and ducks. More than a hundred where guided at a woodcock hunt. About fifty came to hunt for deer, elk and wild boar, most of them being Finns.

What do the Italians hunt for the woodcock for, the Hiiu hunters are not very sure of. A roasted woodcock is more of a ceremony than a nutritious meal, and the woodcock hunt is more of a sport than hunt.

„A dog searches in the woods, locates a game, and freezes with a raised front paw. The hunter gets ready and orders the dog to flush the game. When the bird takes off, the dog stays still, enabling the hunter to get his shot. The dog won´t go to fetch the shot game until ordered so by the hunter. The dogs are fully trained beforehand,“ Ülo Lindjärv, chairman of the board at the Hiiumaa Hunting Association, explains the behaviour of the hunting dog at a woodcock hunt.

The hunt isn´t just some cruel meat-shooting event. There are certains beliefs and customs, choices and rituals. Gravid females or those with the young are not hunted. Since the hunted animal is taken away from the nature, a branch of a fir tree is placed over it and another attached to the hunter´s hat to make amends.

As the hunting guides on Hiiumaa say, the hunt on Hiiumaa will find a way to the hunter´s heart and soul no matter how big the game.

Harda Roosna

Hunting Information:

  • Hiiumaa jahimeeste selts (Hiiumaa Association of Hunters)
    Väike-Tiigi 8
    92411 Kärdla
    Tel + 372 463 1021
    Tel +372 508 8618
    E-mail: hiiu.jahindus@mail.ee