August 21, 2023
It’s difficult to believe there are still places where the efficacy of modern archery equipment continues to be questioned. I didn’t grow up in the era when the Pope and Young Club and other bowhunting organizations had to fight to prove that archery was a viable method of harvesting big game, but they won that fight, and in most of North America we enjoy liberal bowhunting regulations because of those efforts. It’s a privilege that is often taken for granted.
In 2012, Bowhunter columnist, C.J. Winand, was contacted by Danish bowhunter Frank Feldmann through the National Bowhunter Education Foundation. At the time, Frank was the only outfitter licensed to guide in Greenland and he was on a quest to legalize bowhunting for muskox. Known for their robust build and thick hides, muskox are formidable adversaries, and they have been legally bowhunted in Alaska and Canada for decades. But at the time, Greenland wildlife authorities were skeptical as to whether the hearty animals could be ethically taken with modern archery equipment.
To prove muskox could be effectively taken with a bow, Frank invited C.J. to participate in a historic bowhunt to be observed by Greenlandic wildlife authorities. The success or failure of that hunt would determine the future of bowhunting in Greenland. Talk about pressure! C.J. and the others in his party had a successful hunt. The authorities were impressed with the lethality of their equipment, and a new bowhunting era was born in Greenland, as we all learned from the pages of Bowhunter Magazine.
The following year, caribou were added to the list of legal game for bowhunters. That’s when Editor Curt Wells became the next Bowhunter staff member to experience Greenland, followed a few years later by Publisher Jeff Waring. Both hunted with Frank Feldmann’s Bowhunting Greenland and took spectacular muskox and caribou. Curt even had the honor of becoming the first modern bowhunter to take a Central Canada barren ground caribou in Greenland! They returned with fantastic stories of dodging icebergs on the boat-based hunt for prehistoric creatures. I was truly envious.
Then, in 2022, Curt Wells called to inform me it was my turn! “Think you might want to go hunt muskox and caribou with Frank Feldmann in Greenland,” he asked?
“Does Dolly Parton sleep on her back?” I quipped. “Heck yes, I want to go to Greenland!”
Curt informed me that a few things had changed since he was there. Frank had switched up hunting locations, and instead of a boat-based hunt, we would now be flown inland to a remote tent-based camp via helicopter, which did nothing but add to the adventure and intensify my anticipation.
I was joined on my Greenlandic adventure by good friend and archery industry veteran, Jon Syverson, and Bowhunter TV cameraman Mike Emery. Jon and I had experienced a few bowhunting adventures together before, but as soon as we received our travel itinerary, we knew this one would be next level.
The first leg of our journey took us to Toronto, Canada, where the three of us boarded an eight-hour flight to Copenhagen, Denmark. Geopolitically, Greenland is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and flights to the massive island are more accessible from there. After a night on the town in Copenhagen, we boarded a flight to the town of Kangerlussuaq, on the west coast of Greenland.
In Kangerlussuaq, we met Frank’s wife, Mette, who handles all the logistics for Bowhunting Greenland. With Frank waiting for us at camp, Mette got us to the helicopter hanger and made sure we were fully prepared for our final flight. Jon and I had both ridden in choppers before, but we weren’t expecting the beast of a helicopter that awaited us. An Air Greenland Airbus H225 helicopter looks like a flying tank. It is a gigantic helicopter, and we both knew this was going to be a helicopter flight unlike any we had ever taken before.
Flying over Greenland is awe-inspiring. There’s nothing green about the interior of the world’s largest island. Most of it is covered with ice and glaciers, but the western coastline — where Frank conducts his hunts — is absolutely magnificent.
As we flew south toward camp, I was struck by how mountainous the terrain was. I had seen the photos in my colleagues’ articles, but as is often the case, cameras do the terrain little justice. Tremendous ridges jutted up from the sea into vast plateaus dotted with crystal-clear lakes, bisected by glacial-fed waterways that cut deep canyons in the rocky terrain. It was as intimidating as it was beautiful.
After topping the mountains, we began to see muskox, and their numbers continued to increase as we descended into a beautiful river valley, where we caught our first glimpse of Frank’s camp. A handful of tents and a couple of aluminum boats lay on the banks of the river — a tiny reprieve from a seemingly endless wilderness. We were greeted by Frank, Danish guide Philip Von Arenstorff, and two Swedish students named Jonathan Blom and Walter Johansson, who were participating in a hunting-guide internship program.
What looked like meager accommodations from the air turned out to be a well thought out system that included comfortable sleeping quarters for the hunters, separate quarters for guides, a supply tent, cook tent, and a dining tent. After unloading our gear and shooting our bows, our first meal of muskox was prepared by Philip and served by Jonathan and Walter. If we weren’t motivated enough to take a muskox on this adventure, we certainly were now, as we quickly learned that muskox was some of the most delicious game meat we had ever tasted.
The next morning, we awoke to rainy conditions and had to don raingear before heading out. The date was September 20, and Frank was surprised to be getting rain instead of snow. Conditions had been unseasonably warm. He showed us photos from the year before of hunters simply walking across the iced-over river in front of camp. This year, there was no ice, so we would be using boats to cross the river. The warm weather had Frank a little worried about the caribou hunting, as weather is what typically pushes them down into the river valley. For now, the caribou were high, so our plan was to hunt muskox first and worry about caribou later.
We soon learned that finding muskox is not the biggest challenge when hunting them with Frank. It’s simply putting in the time to find a mature bull. We covered a lot of ground that day and looked over lots of muskox. To the novice, it can be difficult to tell a mature trophy bull from an average one.
We were on our way back to camp when we came across a bull that Frank called an “old warrior.” Jon was up first, and Frank explained that this was an old bull that had broomed off the tips of his horns quite a bit, so he might not score particularly well, but he was as mature as they get. Being a bowhunter who generally values age-class over score anyway, Jon jumped at the chance for a stalk.
I stayed back as Jon and Frank moved forward, with Mike and his camera in tow. There are no trees in Greenland, but the stalking is fantastic as there is typically lots of topography and boulders to use as cover on the mountainsides, and on a wet day, the ground cover was so soft it was almost like walking on a sponge. The bull bedded and Jon was able to sneak to within 35 yards. When the bull eventually stood up, Jon put a well-placed arrow through his lungs and the bull didn’t make it far.
When we approached Jon’s downed bull, we were instantly impressed with the size, weight, and density of both the body and the fur on these prehistoric animals. It’s like walking up on a wooly mammoth that has been crossbred with a wildebeest.
We were both ecstatic as we began to work at breaking this impressive animal down for what we thought would be a long pack out, when we looked up to see Jonathan pulling a couple of sleds up from the river. When he arrived, all the boned-out meat plus the hide and skull were loaded in the sleds and dragged back downhill to the river with surprising ease. From there, everything was loaded in the aluminum boat, and before we knew it, we were back at camp enjoying fresh muskox meat.
The next day we woke to beautiful weather, crossed the river, got some elevation, and started glassing for muskox. Once again, we weren’t having any issues finding them, just locating a mature bull that was in a stalkable position.
Just as we topped a hill to glass another area, we spotted a large arctic hare about a hundred yards out in front of us. Its white coat stuck out like a sore thumb. We had all just raised our binoculars to take a closer look, when one of us spotted something odd-looking about halfway between us and the hare. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be the hump of a muskox that was bedded in a slight depression. Frank took a few steps to a higher vantage point, then came back and whispered that this had to be a lone bull, and that we needed to slip in for a closer look.
After dropping our packs, Frank and I slipped forward, with Mike following close behind. The wind was perfect, and as we approached, we could tell the bull was facing directly away from us. With the ground still damp from the previous day’s rain, Frank stayed right in my hip pocket and kept urging me forward until he could get a good look at the bull’s headgear. Mike hung back at about 30 yards as Frank and I closed the gap to half that distance. At that point, we had to stop and wait for the bull to stand for Frank to get a better look.
Time ticked slowly by, but when the bull finally stood, I came to full draw and Frank took one look at him and whispered, “Shoot! Shoot that bull!”
At just 15 yards, my arrow disappeared into a colossal wall of flowing fur. Moments later, we were all admiring my beautiful muskox. He was a gorgeous specimen that Frank described as being in his prime, with heavy bosses, long horns that swept all the way up to eye level, and a beautiful coat. He was simply spectacular!
Over the remainder of the hunt, Jon and I experienced even more adventure hunting caribou, but the lack of snow in the high country kept them mostly out of reach. We did have a couple of opportunities at lone bulls. I was able to decoy one in across wide-open terrain to just 45 yards, but he never held still long enough for a shot to materialize. Jon missed a bull at 54 yards, but it didn’t really matter to us. Caribou were merely icing on the cake.
On this Greenland adventure, the prehistoric creature once believed to be unkillable with a bow, was our focus. Frank Feldmann led the fight to adopt new regulations and Bowhunter Magazine and Bowhunter TV were there from the very beginning to help launch this Greenland legacy.
Author’s Notes: My hunting gear included a Hoyt RX-7 Ultra with a Spot Hogg Fast Eddie sight and Vapor Trail Pro-V rest, a Scott Ghost release, Easton arrows outfitted with Muzzy Trocar broadheads and Lumenok lighted nocks, Leupold optics, Kenetrek Mountain Extreme boots, a Kifaru 22 Magnum backpack, Browning Ovix apparel, and a Stalker Caribou Decoy from UltimatePredatorGear.com.
Frank Feldmann’s Bowhunting Greenland offers the best opportunity on the planet for spot-and-stalk muskox. It’s an experience like no other. For more information, contact Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his website at bowhuntinggreenland.com.