Spring capercailzie hunting is a Russian classic. The biggest grouse in the world begins its mating ritual with the male sitting on a tree at a special area known as lek, and singing the mating song. During parts of this song, which last for only a few seconds, the male is deaf; that’s when a hunter moves, usually in a form of a couple of giant leaps, in the direction of the bird. This may sound easy, but it really isn’t, as the bird is deaf only for a couple of seconds at a time; otherwise, it can hear very well and, knowing its vulnerability, is extremely wary. The hunter begins the stalk in the dark, going over leftover snow, bogs, fallen trees, and other impossible terrain. A capercailzie doing the lek song is a common theme for Russian engravers.
My Izh-54 Sh grade.
Below is an extract from “Chasing Spring”, by Nikolai Vlasov, published in April 2015 issue of the Russian Hunting Magazine.
We went through the night, across the wood, swamps and beaver dams. Sleepy ducks would take off now and then, breaking the silence of the taiga with their loud expressions of disappointment, curlews sang their quiet songs in the clearings, woodcocks were doing their mating flight over the tops of the pines. The forest was living its life. We took a rest not far from the lek. Sanya was tending his saddle-sore legs, Kolya and Igor lit their cigarettes, and I was listening to the silence, which was now and then broken by the calls of migrating widgeon and the mad cries of the mating hare. These sounds filled my soul with peace. Then we spread; I went with Igor, and Kolya led Sanya into the marsh, their silhouettes soon vanishing in the dark, and only splashing of their feet could be heard. We approached the lek – the capercailzie mating ground, which spread across the kilometer-long ridge overgrown with pines – from the other side. Continue reading