The_World_Of_Hunting_Norway_Banner.webp
Human Stories

The World Of Hunting on the West Coast of Norway | Interview

What is the world of hunting like? I sat down with Susanne Tonheim to hear about her experience growing up in a hunting family on the western coast of Norway.


Photo by Susanne Tonheim

How were you introduced to hunting? 

I come from a hunting family. Throughout my childhood, I've always joined hunting trips with my dad and brothers. but I only hunted by myself after receiving my licence at the age of 14. I grew up with it, so it's just a hobby for me –  like when others play football or the piano.

How does it feel to take an animal’s life?

I remember the first time I pulled the trigger. I was hunting birds. There were a lot of emotions going through my body, but then I also thought: “Okay, it was a good shot.” It was over very fast. I definitely felt a lot – and I still do, though maybe less than the first few times. 

I think it also varies depending on what I'm hunting. Killing a very sweet-looking deer makes me much more emotional. There’s an adrenaline rush. You see the reaction of the deer the moment the bullet hits its heart and lungs. Seeing it fall and die, you empathise with the animal who just lost its life. But then, when you know you have fired a good shot, and you can see that the animal is hit well, you process those feelings and understand that you have to refocus on following the animal and see where they fall to check they’re not suffering. 

Why do you hunt? 

For me, it’s about environmental reasons and tradition. From an environmental perspective, we harvest from the population surplus, which helps to keep the populations alive and healthy rather than being overpopulated. When there’s overpopulation, some animals would naturally end up suffering from starvation and dying. We also help to keep the peace between animal populations and farmers, as fewer animals will eat the grass destined for cows and sheep. 

Traditional heritage is also very important to me. This is something that we've been doing since I don't know how long. I learned a lot from my father and I will pass these learnings onto my children. But there is also a very important social aspect to it. I like the feeling of being a part of a bigger group, going out and harvesting from nature – the effort and energy you put into it comes back to you in the form of food. Since I moved from my hometown to the city, this has become a very nice way to connect with my family and go back to my roots. 

Do you hunt throughout the whole year?

We are only allowed to hunt certain species at certain times of the year. All game is prohibited during the breeding season, so we hunt mostly during the autumn, and we have specific hunting sites for each species. You can go online and check when and where hunting is allowed. 

How does the government ensure that populations aren’t overhunted?

The government has set quotas, at least for various bird species and larger game like deer and moose. There are also restrictions when it comes to birds, so you could have a bag limit on the number of birds that you are allowed to bring back. All those quotas are set based on ecology, considering things like food availability [for both prey and predators], pressure from hunting, and how the population is doing generally.

But I also think this is where improvement is needed – we must ensure that quotas are set correctly with proper assessments and reliable data. For example, you might receive data from a farmer who has a beautiful field that attracts deer to come and feed on. The farmer’s report might give the impression of a large deer population in the area, but if you distribute all those deer into the larger area where they migrate from, the population might actually not be that big. 

Are the quotas really respected by hunters?

I would say that they are mostly respected. As a hunter, there is a lot of information you have to provide. You have to hand in the animal's jaw – at least for deer hunting – because the jaw shows the age of the deer. You also have to give information on the animal’s details (was it a female or male, was it young), the number of hunters in your group, where you hunted, and how many animals you saw. Also, if you're caught hunting illegally, you'll receive at minimum a fine, maybe even a withdrawal of your hunting licence and weapons. But I would like to believe that people follow the set quotas because they are there for a reason.

Do you always come home with game?

No, and I think that is a good thing. You always need to remember you're harvesting from nature. It shouldn't be like going to the grocery store to buy your food. Also, when one gets their hunting licence, they are taught that they should never regret an unfired shot. So, if one is unsure or not feeling comfortable, it’s better to let the animal go rather than firing a bad shot.


Photo by Susanne Tonheim

Related articles

Most viewed

Human Stories

How Digitalisation Improves Aquaculture Management

Oliver Fredriksson, Natalie Brennan

You've probably heard of forecasting in the context of weather, but it can also help modernize…

Human Stories

Human Rights in the Food System | Ask the Expert

Madhura Rao, Dr. Nadia Bernaz

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality,…

Human Stories

Expanding The Gaze Of Modern Fisheries Management

Oliver Fredriksson, Dr Andrea Reid

Dr Andrea Reid is a citizen of the Nisgaꞌa Nation, an Assistant Professor of Indigenous…

Human Stories

Farmed Fish | The ASC Certification Label | Buying Sustainable Aquaculture

Jessica Tengvall

Have you ever spotted a light green ASC label on various seafood products? The ASC label manages…

Human Stories

Cocoa, Coffee, and Cocaine: A Bitter-Sweet Future for Farmers in Colombia

Sunny Chen

Coca, once used in the original Coca-Cola recipe in 1886, has impacted Colombia since the industry…

Human Stories

Does Fairtrade Really Work?

Jane Alice Liu

The Fairtrade certification system was created to support and empower marginalised small-scale…

Human Stories

Agro Robots | Which Robots Actually Work On Farms?

Annabel Slater

Harvesting fruit and vegetables can be repetitive and arduous. The human workforce is dwindling due…

Human Stories

Raising Chickens In The City | Ask the Expert

Aran Shaunak, Sara Ward

Have you ever considered raising chickens in the city or another urban setting? As the founder of…

Human Stories

How Ethical Is Our European-Grown Produce?

Inés Oort Alonso

Our supermarkets are brimming with Spanish produce: green beans, strawberries, aubergines,…

Human Stories

How Fairtrade Impacts the West African Cocoa Industry | Ask the Expert

Marieke van Schoonhoven

Cocoa farmers are terribly underpaid in West Africa. The majority of farmers in Ghana and Côte…

Human Stories

Will Agricultural Robots Replace Human Agricultural Labour? | Opinion

Jane Alice Liu

They might not be the kind you'd find in sci-fi fantasy books and movies but believe it or not,…

Human Stories

Regenerative Lessons From Indigenous Food Systems

Rachel Bailleau

When European colonisers came to North America, they said they were settling in “unused” and…

Keep updated with the latest news about your food with our newsletter

Follow Us