In Sweden, and also in Norway, elk hunting is a passion, as well as an important contribution to both the personal and national economy. The elk had already been hunted to extinction in Denmark in the Stone-Age, though once in a while a young elk desperately looking for a mate swims across the sound between Sweden and Denmark. Read more about the Scandinavian elk.
The elk population is controlled in order to keep the population healthy, and to protect the deciduous woods. Elk hunting in Sweden and Norway is a much-regulated affair, usually taken care of by hunting parties, which then share the meat as dictated by a very strict set of rules.
According to official figures, hunters kill about 100,000 elk each year in Sweden. In Norway, 30,636 moose were killed in the 2018/2019 season. Elk meat represents a substantial portion of the meat eaten in Sweden in particular.
Appearance and taste
The elk is a giant deer, about the size of a very large horse, big enough to give you 250kg of meat to eat, and big enough to do serious damage to your car if you collide with one (a relatively common occurrence in Sweden and Norway).
Related: Scandinavian Wildlife
The elk is an awkward-looking animal, rather like a wildebeest, which has the appearance of being made up from the spare parts of several animals. The elk’s neck is too short to reach the ground, so it feeds mainly on the young shoots and leaves of deciduous trees. To eat grass, it has to squat down on the ground – a very funny sight, but elks are surprisingly agile swimmers, and they often dive to feed off the vegetation to be found in lakes and streams.
Elk meat is extremely dark and very lean, and tastes like gamy beef. Elk offal is much sought after, the liver being a particular delicacy.
Related: Scandinavian Game
Elk can be bought in northern Scandinavia from butchers and supermarkets, but it is quite expensive. Also, you will have no way of knowing how old it is, nor usually which cut of meat you’re buying. The safe way to use this meat is in a stew.
Elk meat can be cooked like beef, but take care not to overcook it as it is much leaner than beef. Elk meat takes well to a marinade, and it’s very good in kebabs, patties, hamburgers and whole roasts.
You can read more about elk hunting in Sweden here.
Scandinavian Elk, written by Tor Kjolberg