By Amy Walters
THIS WOMAN describes hunting as ‘addictive’ after racking up over one-hundred kills – including a baby seal.
Train driver Erica Egonsson (35) from Linkoping, Sweden, has always had a love for animals and went on to study a degree in wildlife management. She started hunting in 2018 with her boyfriend Patrik (35) after they bought their second laika and German spaniel dog mix Atlas (3) and fell in love with the sport instantly.
For Erica, a typical day shooting involves going out from the morning until the evening and driving around her local fields and forests in the hopes of spotting a deer or wild boar to hunt and take home for her family to eat. She hunts typically two or three days a week all year round as she can’t get enough of the calming feeling hunting brings her.
Erica’s dogs, Enzo (10), Atlas (3), Sally and Loke (8 months), all accompany Erica and Patrik on their hunts where they’re trained to sniff out and track down deer and wild boars. Their dogs have also hunted moose in the last three years and Erica believes her dogs are made for hunting.
One of Erica’s most unique kills was in 2019 whilst she was in Finland for seal hunting. The seal population in Finland is increasing each year and as it’s important to keep the population down for the benefit of the fish population, seal hunting is welcomed so Erica hunted a little grey seal.
Although Erica’s passion lies in hunting, she does feel remorse after she has killed an animal but she always tries to think of the benefits, such as being able to hunt her own meat and loves that she’s found a hobby where she can get outdoors.
Erica comments that her favourite part of hunting is being part of the whole process from forest to food and loves the energy that hunting provides her and she has hunted over 100 animals to date. She hopes that her son Casper (10) will follow in her footsteps as he gets older.
During her hunting journey, Erica has received some negative comments such as, ‘How can you kill innocent animals,’ which she brushes off as she knows that she’s killing them in the most humane way possible and gives them a purpose after they have been hunted. However, she has rarely had any other negative comments directed her way and mostly receives positive feedback about her hunts.
“I have always liked being in nature and have loved animals ever since I was a child. I hoped to become a vet when I grew up. However, I went on to pursue a degree in wildlife management which really sparked my interest in wild animals,” said Erica.
“My boyfriend and I bought our second dog, Atlas, in 2018 and as I had always wanted to try hunting, we thought now would be the best time to try it out as we had two dogs who could protect us whilst we hunted.
“As I held the gun and pulled the trigger towards a wild animal, I felt such a strong surge of energy coursing through my veins which was so addicting, that I knew I had to do it again.
“We try to go out hunting two or three times a week and in the past three years, we have hunted around one-hundred animals, ranging from deer, wild boar and my largest shoot so far: a moose.
“A typical day hunting involves starting off early in the morning and driving around our local fields and forests stalking deer or wild boar. We try to hunt in the evening or night, so that the animals don’t spot us easily, but we have gone out in the morning before – so it varies a lot.
“I think the biggest joy I get from hunting is getting out in the fresh outdoors and seeing all what nature has to offer as well as hunting my own meat as knowing where my meat comes from and that it’s clean is really important to me.
“I always make sure that the animal has lived a good life and although I sometimes feel remorse, I know that I have killed the animal in the most humane way possible and given it a chance to provide food for me and my family.”
In August 2021, Erica hopes to visit northern Sweden and hunt bears for the first time in her life which she hopes will become her biggest kill to date. She has also had the opportunity to shoot a fallow deer – a 138-pound mammal – which she won a silver medal for.
“As our two youngest dogs, Sally and Loke are still too young to come out hunting with us, we hope to get them trained in the best way possible ready for the season next winter as they both have a lot of desire to hunt and I think they could really help us,” Erica said.
“I think one of the hardest things about hunting is not knowing what else is out there in the darkness, something which I have had to learn to overcome as it can be quite daunting. I remember I used to hate going out at night to hunt wild boars – but now it’s my favourite thing to hunt.
“Despite most hunters receiving negative comments, I have only received very few and mostly get positive feedback about my kills which I’m very thankful for. I think the most negative comment I have received was, ‘How can you kill innocent animals’ which hurt as I don’t try to kill ‘innocent’ animals, I hunt animals that have lived a long and healthy life.
“I respect that everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, but hunting gives me a purpose in life. I don’t just do it for my own good either, I do it to help combat diseases in large species of animals local to me and I also do it for my family.
“I think if you want to try hunting, go for it, as you’ll never find a sport so liberating and rewarding. I believe knowing that you’re doing your best for the animals and for yourself is the most important thing and I can’t wait to get back out during hunting season this year.”