When Shany Poulin, marketing manager for Stoeger Canada (distributor of all Beretta Group company brands in the country) asked me last fall if I wanted to go to Finland to be part of a media trip to get a sneak peek at new gun lines from Sako and do some hunting, a quick “Yes, please,” was the obvious answer.
Last October, the two of us, along with Alberta outdoor writer and TV host TJ Schwanky, and Quebec author and video blogger Stephane Monette, travelled to Helsinki to meet outdoor writers from the US, New Zealand, and Australia. It’s funny, when you have a shared common interest in hunting and a passion for the outdoors, how easily people from all over the world can bond.
We toured the historic port city, saw presentations on the new rifle lines, put in range time, and even got in a deer and moose hunt.
Besides those amazing experiences, and all the while being pampered like visiting royal dignitaries, a few things really stood out.
Sako manufacturing plant
More than an hour north of Helsinki, we were able to tour the Sako manufacturing plant, where they also manufacture Tikka rifles and Sako cartridges. The facilities were state of the art. It was an impressive look behind The Wizard of Oz curtain to see how premium guns and ammo are made. What also surprised me was how much rural Finland reminded me of home. The Baltic Shield we hunted felt exactly like the Canadian Shield country I fish and hunt here.
What didn’t surprise me were the people. The Finns have a reputation of being polite, thoughtful, resourceful, and proud, without being boastful. Everyone I met didn’t disappoint — even if they made a few outrageous claims that Santa Claus is Finnish and that they have a better hockey team than us. It made for some fun barroom discussions with quality local brews, and left me with a distinct feeling: “I like it here.”
Read more about my Finnish adventure and the new rifles on page 40 of the July 2023 issue.
Originally published in the July 2023 issue of Ontario OUT of DOORS
Ray Blades is the Editor of Ontario OUT of DOORS and a lover of wild places and the life-giving magic of hot black coffee. Reach Ray at: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @rayOODMAG; Instagram: @ray.blades