The stories and feedback from the shooting trip to Sweden
Highland Game took the winner of the Game Chef Year, Orry Shand, No 1, Balmoral Hotel and the two runner up Chefs to Sweden as the trophy prize.
The annual cooking competition is organized by Braehead Food, Kilmarnock.
I was very happy to get the chance to go to Sweden. It was an amazing experience and a real eye opener to the culture.
Winning Game Chef of the Year has been great and I would like to thank Highland Game for this great experience.
Orry Shand, Chef at Number One Restaurant, Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh
Firstly I would like to say what an honour it was to be involved in the trip, hunting is something which has always been an interest of mine but never dreamed I would get the chance to do it with a team of professionals in the Swedish wilderness, it’s such a beautiful country with an abundance of wildlife.
I was blown away with the surroundings and where we were staying and also by the level of hospitality, phenomenal!
My hunting day started early on the Saturday morning, we all got paired up with our guides and went off into the forest, we went around all the feeding points stalking deer and walked for almost 2 hours before we spotted a fallow deer having breakfast but it saw us and went off into the trees, we walked a bit more before heading back towards the truck, we started to head back and suddenly a deer jumped out and started walking down the road so quickly my guide jumped out and in true James Bond style shot it with perfect accuracy, we collected it then went on our merry way and got another shortly afterwards.
After returning from shopping we went off into the forest again this time going to a different destination and after a short walk I shot my first ever deer to which I was really pleased, it’s nice to get on the score sheet and was made to feel like a hero by my guide who in true hunting tradition gave me the bullet shell which I will keep as a trophy!
From there we went onto wait on the boar feeding, we waited for over an hour whilst it got very dark and dropped about 10 degrees and got very cold, we heard them sniffing about and grunting which lifted the spirits! I couldn't see a thing but my guide managed to shoot it perfectly from distance and hats off to him he must be nocturnal himself! Great shooting and a great way to end the day!
A fantastic meal afterwards was had by all and I feel like I have made new friends, would definitely like to do it all again and will be visiting Sweden again soon.
Thanks to all at Highland Game who made it possible.
Gareth Linden, Inspire Catering
The weekend away was most certainly an incredible experience! It was the first time I had ever been to Sweden or any country colder than Scotland!
Upon landing it was late in the night so you couldn’t really see anything except 3-4ft snow walls either side of the road until we got to the lodge, which itself was lovely, spacious and warm. When we got up the following morning it was the first time we could all take in the surroundings, it was strange to see somewhere so completely covered in snow, yet looked lovely and peaceful at the same time. We all went deer stalking first thing which I was really looking forward to as I never been deer stalking before or even shot a gun.
My guide shot a fallow deer after about an hour of walking through the forests which was quite strange feeling to witness, later in the stalking me and my guide came across another couple of fallow deer up hill, he offered me the gun to take a shot which I was happy to do and when the time was right shot it cleanly in the neck at first attempt which I was very proud of, and the adrenaline rush was something else! The wild boar shooting was later on in the afternoon, again me and the same guide went out and found a good spot in the forest and took a seat on these man built raised seats, then the waiting game, we waited for it to get dark and the waiting for the boars to come out and eat, after only half an hour we heard a pack of wild boar rustling around in the trees behind us, they eventually made an appearance, all 6 of them, but made sure they kept their distance. My guide who had the gun said he couldn’t get a clear shot and didn’t want to wound any of them without killing, which can be dangerous for us! That was the only boar we would see but the experience of being out with them in the pitch black in the middle of nowhere was an experience in itself and one I won’t forget quickly!
Later on that night I and Gareth cooked up some unusual food including horse, moose and some interesting toffee like cheese.
So to wrap it up it was an incredible weekend full of many firsts for me including:-first time in Sweden, Shooting a gun, Killing an animal, eating horse, eating moose and drinking a half bottle of whisky and staying sober !! (Whilst boar hunting)
Thanks again for giving me, Orry and Gareth the chance to go on this trip!
Daniel Spurr, Chef from Martin Wishart @ Lochlomond, Cameron House
I just wanted to convey my thanks to you and Christian, for your tremendous hospitality during our weekend in Sweden. I know how much work must have gone in to organising everything and believe me, it was very well organised.
It was a pleasure to spend time with both of you, and the girls, in your country, seeing where you have your house and the beautiful environment surrounding it.
Although I had personally decided not to shoot, this in no way detracted from the pleasure I derived from accompanying Christian on the daytime deer stalking and the evening Wild Boar hunt. It was fascinating to watch him work, his ability to spot the deer and then his patience during the stalk, really impressed me, as well as the fact that he was dropping everything he fired at.
We didn't see any boar during our stake out, on Saturday evening, but that didn't bother me at all, I felt rather privileged to spend that time with The Boss, sharing in his passion, out in the forest.
They say silence can be deafening, and I have never experienced that kind of intensity before.
I was delighted that Orry, Gareth and Daniel were successful in their shooting, their sheer delight was evident for all to see. The experience will stay with them for a long time.
The idea for them to cook dinner, was a master stroke, they served up a beautiful meal, with twists and surprises all round.
They are a fine bunch of lads and added something very special to the occasion. It would be a pleasure to meet them anytime, especially if I could sample there cooking again.
Once again, thanks for everything, it was more than I could have wished for.
Les Stewart, Collection Supervisor Highland Game
David Soutar’s story…
A short uneventful flight was followed by a quick drive to our accommodation. On the way we saw quite a few fallow deer both at the side an on the road which led me to think there must be an abundance of fallow in the region. I was also interested to see the bales of silage which I subsequently found out were used to feed the wild animals unlike Scotland where they feed naturally.
We were met at the accommodation by Christian who very kindly had a beer waiting for us. A quick beer and it was time for bed although it was nearly 1.00am Swedish time by then. I was offered the opportunity of a long lie or the chance to go out stalking at 7.30 the next morning. I hadn’t made up my mind either way when I went to bed. I was first up Saturday morning and waiting to go on my first fallow stalk.
The 3 chefs and I were paired with trained hunters and went to different areas of the 3500 hectare Edeby Ripsa estate. Christian and I went out on the quad bike to the area closest to our accommodation as wild boar had been spotted close by. However we didn’t see any wildlife in this area but did hear the rifle shots of others in our party who were having more success than us. We moved on and soon spotted 3 fallows some distance away. Christian took the shot and I was impressed, as it was a considerable distance and the shot resulted in a clean kill. As the rifle went off the sound startled moose who were nearby and we spotted them as they took off. Overhead was a golden eagle. We moved on to a different area and walked up the side of slope knee deep in snow searching for the elusive fallow but with no success.
We therefore moved on and spotted a single calf in the road but it moved off before we could take a shot. On walking up to where we thought it might be we spotted a group of big stags with large antlers but were not permitted to shoot them. We headed back for breakfast and on the route back to the accommodation spotted some calves in an area where later in the day we would return and I would get my first kill. We all returned for breakfast and I stayed behind while Christian took les Stewart out. On their return the 3 of us went out together and it was then we spotted some calves, there were 3 close together but to near gardens and it wouldn’t have been any sport to shoot them. We drove on to back where we had seen the calves in the morning, Les kept back while Christian and I crawled into position to enable me to take the shot. They could sense we were there but we were sheltered by trees as we crawled on our bellies into position. I took aim and the fallow dropped on the spot. I didn’t reload in time to take another shot as the group moved off rapidly. We examined the carcass and I was happy with my shot placement and a good clean kill. Christian took a photo of me and my kill and we moved on. We then saw a large number of fallows of all sizes feeding as well as a wild boar; they all scampered off before we could take a shot. Christian had further success in the area where we had found our first fallow that morning. We returned for lunch of traditional Swedish pastries and although they looked delicious didn’t try any.
Christian and I they ventured out again and we found a number of animals grazing at the side of the road. He surprisingly offered me the shot which was a reasonable distance away and it took a while for me to get settled. I eventually moved to the side of the road and while lying in the snow took aim. I think he was worried I would shoot the big buck standing next to the smaller target. It would have been a much easier target as he was larger and standing at a perfect angle to take the shot. However I hit my intended target and it moved off a few meters and then dropped back down beside a tree. Another photo opportunity took place and we moved on. Christian then had further success with two fallows, one from a standing position as the animals ran off.
We returned to meet up before going out again looking for wild boar. A totally different experience as instead of being on the move we were sat perfectly still in a high chair waiting on them appearing at the feeding places. It was disappointing that none appeared but my guide and I Jan had a good view of large numbers of fallow who came in to feed as the daylight disappeared. Jan turned to me and gave a knowing smile as he no doubt knew I wanted to take out some of the fallow in front of me. Also disappointing when we heard the gunshot from others who had success in finding boar. Sitting in absolute silence for 90 minutes was a new experience, although the sounds of the forest and falling snow were a wonderful experience.
We returned to the accommodation where I had a shower to thaw out and then had a wonderful dinner cooked by the chefs. After Evelyn and Les had cleared up they went to bed while I sat till nearly midnight with the 3 chefs chatting about our experiences and telling them a bit about what we do at Highland Game. I retired about midnight and was up 6.30 Sunday where I could quite happily have gone out stalking for a few hours before flying home. I have the two shell casings as mementos of my success. It was great to spend a weekend in the company of a group of great people, some of whom we had never met but I am sure will keep in touch.
On the return to the airport I was impressed that the roads were cleared although we saw very little tar and the vehicles were obviously fitted with tyres suitable to the climate. I wish I could say the same about Scotland. We did see a couple of fallow on the way to the airport.
It was an excellent experience and one I enjoyed probably more than I thought I would. Would I Ilke to do it again, most definitely!
Thanks very much for a brilliant weekend. I had always wondered why Christian was so mad about stalking, but having experienced it myself I now know the answer.
David Soutar, Management Accountant, Highland Game