The Declaration of Christmas Peace is a Finnish tradition that is often also extended to game. In many regions, hunters gather by the campfire shortly before Christmas to bring festive greetings to the game. After this, all hunting equipment is tucked away until the festive season is over.
The car radio plays a beautiful, traditional Finnish Christmas carol. I am on my way to take carrots and oats to the game feeding place. It is time to forget Facebook and Outlook for a while, wind down and get into the Christmas spirit.
Clean, fresh snow covers the forest road, and on it the tracks of animals passing by in the early hours are clearly visible, like a pearl necklace. Suddenly, a handsome wood grouse takes flight next to me and disappears into the young pine forest.
I enter the feeding place feeling curious. I wonder if the leading buck has visited here. Many autumn nights I have waited to get it in my crosshairs, but always in vain. Each time it has managed to steer clear of me. I do not see its tracks, but other members of the deer family have clearly been having a feast and left the feeding place in need of restocking.
As I am about to leave, the leading buck sticks out its head from behind the spruce trees. It is an unforgettable moment. Maybe it was the ancient Finnish god of the forest, Tapio, who sent the buck to wish me a peaceful Christmas.
I decided then and there that if it was up to me, me and that buck would meet again next Christmas.
A peaceful Christmas to all forest dwellers!
The writer is a Forest Account Manager in the Vesilahti and Pirkkala regions in southern Pirkanmaa. He is also an active member of the local gamekeepers association. The article was originally published in UPM Metsämaailma in 2011.