photo © Salla – In the middle of Nowhere
Hunting Holiday in Finland
Finland has the highest percentage of people allowed to hunt in all of Europe, around 300,000 or 6% of the population. To hunt in Finland you are required to have a Finnish hunting card, a firearms licence, and hunting rights or permission granted by a land owner or a holder of hunting rights. In addition, in order to hunt deer or bear you must possess a certificate of a passed shooting test, and for certain species of game a hunting licence is required.
65% of Finland’s land and freshwater areas are in private ownership, and the land owner owns the hunting rights on their property. Often the landowners lease these hunting rights to other parties, usually hunting clubs or associations. Today there are over 4,000 such clubs operating in Finland, leasing land for both game management and hunting, with grounds ranging in size from 2,000 to 10,000 hectares.
Another 25% of Finland is owned by the State, the majority of which is in eastern and northern Finland. Metsähallitus, the Finnish Forest and Park Service, has responsibility for most of the use of game management and hunting rights on these lands.
The game species that are predominantly hunted in Finland are the black grouse, capercaillie, hazel grouse, willow grouse, brown and northern hares, moose and white-tailed deer, and the mallard. Fur game include the badger, beaver, fox, mink, muskrat, pine marten, and racoon dog. The hunting of bears is also permitted, but very well regulated.
A game management fee must be paid to the state annually in order to hunt in Finland. When this payment is made, a receipt is given which serves as a hunting card for that year. The fee is determined by the state every year in its budget, and for the last few years it has been 28€. Since 1964 there has been an obligatory hunting examination which must be passed before being eligible to buy a hunting card.
Hunters from abroad can get a Finnish hunting card if they present a valid hunting card from their own country, or some similar official certificate that proves they have the right to hunt there. Once these documents have been checked and validated by the Game Management Association a bank deposit slip is ordered from the hunter’s register, and when paid this acts as a hunting card. This card is valid for one year, beginning August 1st and ending July 31st of the following year. Should the hunter be unable to provide reliable documents then they must pass a Finnish hunting exam, arranged by the GMA and subject to payment of a fee.
It is also possible to hunt without having hunting rights based on the ownership or lease of land, by applying for a hunting permit from the land owner, or game tenant (usually a hunting club). Hunting clubs and land owners often grant, or sell, permits for land and water areas they own.
On state-owned lands you can buy hunting permits for hunting small game from Metsähallitus, which are valid from 1 to 7 days. These permits are personal and usually give the right to hunt all types of game during its period of validity. It includes a game quota, which is indicated as that permit’s number of points for each type of game. Metsähallitus also sells permits destined for groups for hunting moose and beaver, as well as personal permits for hunting bears. The selling of hunting permits for hunting on state-owned grounds usually starts at the beginning of August.