Bjarne Fosmo and his wife
These were the words Bjarne Fosmo said
to me as he firmly grasped my hand.
As he guided me down the steep
snow-clad slope, he talked about his earlier life. Fellow traveller
Mona interpreted for me, as he explained that he had been a trapper
in Svalbard in his youth.
He described himself as "an old
hunting man from Hopen". Hopen is where he hunted in his younger
days on the eastern side of Svalbard.
Bjarne explained that he had first
spent a year out in the frozen wastes hunting animals such as seal,
arctic fox, reindeer and polar bear. Then he rested for a
month before returning for another year hunting.
He said that to preserve the bear fur
it was stored in salt barrels. The meat was fed to the sled
Hunting is still very much a popular
activity in Norway. The hunting of reindeer is strictly limited to
20 per person per year. The artic fox has suffered greatly in the
last few years succumbing to rabies. Often you see the bones of
these poor animals scattered around.
And of course, whaling is still
carried out, albeit strictly controlled.
When we asked Bjarne whether he ate
the meat of the animals he caught he said yes, and he liked seal
and whale meat. Even though we had been told trappers did not eat
polar bear meat because it was full of worms (the bears are
scavengers), Bjarne said that they often ate the meat of young
bears, cooking it over a low heat for a long time to kill off any
Bjarne also did weather reporting for
the Meteorological Institute while he was out trapping.
When I asked whether he got bored when
he was trapping, his reply was: "No, I loved it."