Hunting in Russia

A Tiger-Flavored Bear Hunt

“I was waiting on the machan for a Hymalayan bear, but a tiger came to the bait!” No, this is not a quote from a 100 y.o. Indian Shikar book, this is the reality for a contemporary big-game hunter in Russian Far East as testified by “A Tiger-Flavored Bear Hunt” by Igor Volokushin, from December issue of Russian Hunting Magazine. This fantastic story ismy Christmas present for the readers of this blog.

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I first saw a Himalayan bear in Moscow, as a trophy mounted by V. Sukharev’s taxidermy studio. The bear looked so natural as if it just froze for a moment before roaring. I felt the urge to get my own trophy of the “white-breasted” bear, as it is known there, and it wasn’t long before I negotiated a hunt with Stalker Group outfitters, and landed in Khabarovsk, with Valery Mitroshin, the manager of a hunting preserve in Lazo Region, to meet me and guide me.

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Hunting in Russia

“People of the Reindeer Land”

A photo story by Yuri Kokovin, published in Russian Hunting Magazine 12/2015.

Evenk are a small indigenous people of Siberia, nomads of the Taiga. They have snowmobiles, but they prefer to travel by reindeer, because reindeer don’t need gas.

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When reindeer don’t want to cross a river, Evenk get in a boat and pull the animals into water. Then the deer take to swimming and tug the boat to the other shore.

Babies travel in special cots fixed on the animals:

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If the weather’s not too cold (say above -20C) the Evenk don’t cover the cot, so that the baby can see where everybody’s going and remember the way.

Evenk children don’t go to school or daycare. They live with their parents in the taiga all year, and learn by doing what the adults do: “The Evenk teach their children in silence”, as their saying goes.

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An Evenk must be able to kindle fire in any weather, and the father shows his daughter how to make wood shavings that burn readily.

The Evenk children learn to shoot as soon as they can reach the trigger.

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Before this boy turns 10, he’ll be able to shoot a grouse for dinner or scare off a pack of wolves.

Every morning the men go off to the taiga to hunt or herd their reindeer. In the evening, the dogs’ barking announces their return to the camp.

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As a sign of respece, wife and children get out of their dwelling to greet their breadwinner (or is it meatwinner?)

The author’s friend, Nikolai Grigoriev, is in his eighties but doesn’t seem to know the meaning of “sickness” or “bored”. He’s always hungry for news and fresh reading, willing to teach you everything he knows about the taiga, and treat you to his home-baked bread and the meat of the moose he’s just shot.

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With or without his left hand, Nikolai can shoot, sail, cut firewood, manage his reindeer and survive in the taiga better than most other people.

The original article was published by Russian Hunting Magazine in December 2015. Text and photo (c) Yury Kokovin, loose condensed translation into English by me.

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Russian Hunting Shotguns

Export of Soviet Guns, Part I.

Soviet and Russian gun export is perhaps the most difficult chapter to write, because information is barely available. On the Russian side, it is classified, first because the makers all belonged to the military-industrial complex, and lately as commercial secret. On the importing side, it has to do with numerous companies, some of them no longer exist. At this stage, I don’t know even know how to approach this problem, and perhaps the best way to start is to put down what I know by now (December 2015).

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1988 promotional calendar

The beginning.

The export of Russian hunting shotguns did not begin until 1960s. In fact, before the second part of 1950s production capacity of domestic gunmakers wasn’t sufficient to satisfy even local demand, and the country imported scores of shotguns (mostly from East Germany). However, by 1960-1962 it became evident that the collective farm based agricultural system couldn’t feed growing urban population. The USSR had to import large quantities of food, and needed hard currency; all industries were ordered to come up with ideas for export merchandise.

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