Wild Reindeer and Sami Hunting with Bow and Arrow


  • Yngve Ryd




Saami, traditional knowledge, snow patch, bow and arrow, reindeer


Despite the disappearance of wild reindeer more than 100 years again, the Sami of Northern Sweden still possess detailed traditional knowledge of the hunting, capture and ecology of wild reindeer. Interviews with Sami elders conducted over the past 30 years have carefully documented the techniques and technology for hunting reindeer on alpine snow patches. Elders report that wild-reindeer behavior was largely conditioned by avoidance of two parasitic insects- sjlávtjá (Hypoderma tarandi, warble fly) and nuhpak (Cehpenemyia trompe, nose bot fly) and understanding the reindeer response to insect harassment allowed Sami hunters to successfully harvest the animals on the snow patches. This article provides a summary of Sami traditional knowledge in the hunting on wild reindeer on alpine snow patches, including the construction and use of bow and arrow technology, the capture and use of wild reindeer. The main source for this information is 88 year old retired reindeer herder Ola Omma, who recalls the stories of older Sami hunters in great detail.

Author Biography

  • Yngve Ryd

    Dr. Yngve Ryd† (1952–2012) was born in Vuollerim, Sweden. He was appointed honorary Doctor in 2008 by Umeå University, Sweden in recognition of his over 30 years of literary work and research on ethnology, experience and expertise in the northern areas of Sweden. Published works include Snö - renskötaren Johan Rassa berättar, Stockholm 2001. Eld—flammor och glöd, samisk eldkonst, Stockholm 2005. and Ren och varg—samer berättar, Stockholm 2007.


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How to Cite

Ryd, Y. (2014). Wild Reindeer and Sami Hunting with Bow and Arrow. Journal of Glacial Archaeology, 1, 11-24. https://doi.org/10.1558/jga.v1i1.11