In August, we had the opportunity to view a new hunting film Heritage produced by Joachim Bruun and David Carsten Pedersen and we were immediately taken with the beauty of the filmography as well as the compelling story it tells of hunting and David’s passion for the land and the animals that walk his land in Denmark. We share his passion for the outdoors and his passion for bowhunting.
David Carsten Pedersen is a hunting professional from Denmark. David has hunted his whole life, runs a hunting school, and works as a hunting journalist, TV presenter, author and film producer. David has hunted all over the world and is certified as a professional hunter in South Africa. David is an ambassador for optics company Zeiss, the European Sitka Gear line, and has been a field tester for Sauer rifles.
We are extremely excited to interview David and share his movie here.
What’s one rookie mistake you’ve made hunting?
I’ve made a lot. And I still do. I once had to get inoculations for rabies because I didn’t wear gloves while skinning an arctic fox in Greenland. That was kind of stupid. After receiving 12 injections in the butt you learn not to do it again.
What’s the hardest lesson you have learned while hunting?
The hardest lesson I’ve learned is that everything dies. We have to live our lives in acceptance of that. My Grandfathers brother died in my arms on a hunt. he had a heart attack and there was nothing we could do about it. Seeing him lying there, on that last drive, on his own hunt, was a strong reminder to live your life to the fullest. He was an old man when he died, and had achieved everything he wanted in life. Its one of the things that pushed me towards a life, doing what I love. Life is short and you only get one chance to do everything. Don’t waste it. The same thing goes for the game we hunt. The death of an animal should always make sense. Not just to the hunter, but on a broader scale. Never take a life for no reason. I think that is a great lesson, and even though it was very hard to watch him die, I’m grateful to have learned from my great uncle.
What one hunting skill that you most want to improve?
I would really like to improve my patience. I’m a very adventurous hunter and it’s hard for me to sit still for long periods of time. I always want to see what’s around the corner. I think this this is why stalking appeals so much to me. It gives me the opportunity to explore an area while I hunt.
How were you introduced to hunting?
My father took me out hunting for the first time, when I was three years old. He carried me in a backpack, on a pheasant shoot. It actually worked quite well, and we’ve basically hunted together ever since. I still hunt with my father, but not as much as I would like to. We both lead busy lives, but when we get the chance, its just like the old days. I’ve gotten a bit to big for the backpack though.
Who were the influencers in your life that helped you get into hunting?
I was raised in family of hunters, where everyone, including my mother and grandmother, where active hunters. It has always been a part of who I am. My grandfather had very clear views on hunting ethics and safety. He raised us in the spirit that hunters are custodians of the wilderness, and that it’s our task to protect the it. I try to live up to these ideals today, and to promote this view in everything I do.
What advice would you give someone just getting into hunting?
When you start out, it might seem like there are only a few ways to go about it. You see a show or read some magazines and think that “this is the only way to hunt”. But in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. When it comes to hunting, the possibilities are almost endless, and every type of hunt teaches you something new. Hunting is a skill, and you don’t become a hunter on the first day. Its a process, building your experience through trial and error. That’s what makes it fun. Luckily there is a whole world out there filled to the brim with exciting hunting possibilities. Keep an open mind and never stop learning.
What species would you most like to hunt?
I have never hunted in the US, and I would love to hunt bear, whitetail or elk with the bow. The American species are somewhat of a holy grail for a European bow hunter. We’ve been brought up reading about these animals, but only a few of us have the opportunity to pursue them. So taking a big bugling elk, a beautiful whitetail buck or a fully grown grizzly with my bow, is something I hope to get the chance to do in my lifetime.
What gear do you carry that you could not live without?
I always feel a bit naked without my knife, and my wedding ring. I made the knife myself from an old Scandinavian design, with the stitches on the back of the leather sheath. Its been with me for more than 10 years, and saved my hunt quite a few times. So these days, it just feels like bad luck to leave without it. And then there is the ring. The ring stays on no matter what, even when I have to paint it black with a marker. In the season, I spend a lot of time away from my wife, and it always reminds me that she’s there for me and understands my passion.
What tried and true tips do you have to offer deer hunters?
I would say that many deer hunters would benefit a lot from trying to improve their skills as stalkers. And try to get as close as absolutely possible. Its a tricky game, and the success rate is low. Mother Nature is a great teacher, and she will punish you for taking her game to lightly. Don’t get me wrong, I know that hunting from a stand is not easy. But stalking really heightens your senses and that extra level of awareness is something I have benefited a lot from over the years. It forces you to think about wind, tracks and sounds, in a way that isn’t as necessary when you hunt from a blind or a tree stand. And getting really close to the animal, using only your skills, gives you a rush that is very hard to describe.
In all of the years of hunting what is the most important lesson you have learned from the outdoors?
I have learned to never take anything for granted. Hunting is so wonderfully unpredictable, and you never know what will happen or how the story is going to play out. You just have to roll with it, adapt and evolve. Its why I love doing what I do. Everything keeps changing and there will always be a new day, a new challenge and a new experience. On the other hand, we have to fight for the things we want. We can’t expect others to take care of us or do the right thing. We are responsible for the preservation of our way of life, and the wilderness we depend upon. Its a struggle we cannot shy away from, and something that should be an integral part of every hunter’s mindset.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I’m very active on social media and post on Facebook and Instagram through my page Always Hunting. Its always great to hear from hunters all around the world, so feel free to drop us a line if you come by.
What do you want people to know about hunting in your country?
Even though we are a small and highly industrialized society, we have a very high percentage of hunters per capita, with more joining us each year. With 200.000 licensed hunters in a population of 5 million, there is actually a substantial part of the population who hunts. This success is partly due to a very open policy when it comes to the public, strong enforcement of ethical hunting traditions, and couple of popular shows on national television sharing what hunting really is.
Another interesting thing is that we have very long seasons, no tags or bag limits. You can only hunt on land that you own or rent, but when the season is open, it’s up to each hunter to manage the game in a sustainable way. So when I decide to take an animal, I always have to think about what it will do to my herd. In that way, hunting on your own land, gives you a very strong sense of responsibility.
Denmark is also one of the only European countries that allows hunting with a bow. Bow hunters are considered very ethical (and somewhat nerdy) by the rest of the hunting community, and we work very hard to keep it that way. Besides the ordinary hunting and shooting test, we have to pass a separate bow hunting test, where we have to prove our shooting skills on 6 roebuck targets. This test must to be passed every 5 years. It might sound a bit harsh, but I think it keeps people on their toes. As a community we really promote regular practice, ethical hunting and only using well tuned gear. Unfortunately, the authorities don’t really recognize this, so we are not allowed to hunt red or fallow deer, because the they think our bows aren’t powerful enough. Having taken a muskox with my bow, this seems a bit weird, and it is certainly an issue we will work to address in the future.
Why did you make this movie?
We wanted to make a film about hunters; who we are and where we come from. And why what we do is so important to us. Telling the story about the connection we have as hunters with the forests and the animals we manage, and sharing the emotions that lie underneath it all. We wanted to show a different side to hunting than most people usually see.
There are so many people out there who don’t know anything about who we really are. All they see are pictures of dead animals on Facebook, but they never get a chance meet the people behind the camouflage, or to understand all the hard work that goes into hunting in a sustainable way. I think its very important to tell these stories, because if we don’t speak up for ourselves and our way of life, no one will. Luckily I find that most people are actually very positive about sustainable hunting, once you sit down and explain it to them.
What is it about the traditions and heritage of hunting that you hope to convey with this movie?
In Denmark we have a very long hunting tradition. People have basically been hunting in my forest since the stone age, and some of the places we hang our tree stands, are right next to old burial mounds from the bronze age. There is a pretty good chance that some viking hunted roebucks with a longbow in that area, just like we do in the movie. But in a world where our collective memory is so short, many people forget that this is where we came from. This is who we are.
So for me, the continuation of our hunting tradition is about much more than just putting food on the table or managing a herd of deer. It’s about the preservation of our history, and a connection with nature, that was passed down trough the generations. We all came from hunters. And if we loose that connection, I think we loose a valuable part of who we are and how we relate to the world. I think we owe it to all those that came before us, to keep this legacy alive, and pass on our heritage to future generations. I know my grandfather would agree with that.
We know you hunt with a rifle, as well as a bow. Whats the setup and why?
Bow hunting is still quite restricted in Europe, so I hunt quite a lot with my rifle. When it comes to rifle, scope and ammunition setup, versatility is my number one goal. I have the Zeiss V8 1,8-14×50 mounted on a Sauer 404 in 30.06 Springfield. This setup lets me hunt almost anything in the world, and under any conditions.
The scope allows for anything from fast shots on driven game, to long range hunting in the mountains. It even has the ASV tower for shots at long range, a nice feature if you like target practice, or those back up situations where you really need it. The rifle is surprisingly rugged for such a high-end rifle, and really a joy to shoot. The action is smooth like butter and the trigger is crisp like a marksman’s rifle. Its really a special gun. Even in 30.06 and synthetic stock, its very pleasant to shoot. I have always loved the 30.06, for its versatility and its punch. I know its an old school caliber, but I have taken anything from foxes to eland with it. So I know it works. And that’s what matters to me. I currently shoot the Hornady GMX in 150 gr., and so far I’m really happy with it. The bullet performance is impressive and even European wild boar and moose, drop quite fast without too much meat damage. I live on what I shoot, so minimizing meat damage is important to me. Even though it’s not a legal requirement where I hunt, it’s is nice to know that there is no lead in the meat either.
What gear would you recommend for a spot and stalk hunt like you do in your movie?
I think the same rules apply to stalking with a rifle as with a bow. Stalking is stealth. It’s an old truth but: use the right camouflage, move silently, match your camouflage to your surroundings, and understand how to read the wind. I have been using the Optifade Ground Forrest pattern for some years now, and it really works well in my neck of the woods. The pattern has been out in Europe for years, but it is new for Sitka Gear to be including it in the line-up. I’ve been testing it since April this year, and I’m very impressed with it so far. When it comes to shoes, I don’t use boots. I like to stalk in those weird looking Fivefingers shoes. It gives you total freedom of movement, and lets you feel your way across even the worst ground cover. They are not very warm, but you can’t have your cake and eat it to.
One thing I think a lot of hunters overlook is their binoculars. To paraphrase Craig Boddington: Using your rifle as a method for spotting game, will get you shot one day. I use my binocs a lot when I stalk, and I couldn’t possibly hunt like I do without them. The ones I use right now are the Victory SF from Zeiss in 10×42. They give me vide field of view, and a super crisp sight picture. I really love them, and always recommend that you invest in the best set of binoculars you can get your hands on. When spotting an eye or an ear is the only chance you have of finding your quarry, it really makes a difference.
I’ve had a lot of comments over the years about how I use them though, since I never keep them close to my eyes. In that way, I can still use my peripheral vision, even though I’m glassing. I must admit that it looks kind of funny, but when you hunt in Africa or a thick forest like mine, things have a way of popping up all around you, so I’ve learned to use my tools in a way that best suits the situation.