Sent the English digest of the Russian Hunting Magazine for 2018 this week. With every issue we choose two best stories, and run condensed English translations of them. When the year’s over, we get them together and publish in a separate issue. Of course, the stories lose a lot when cut from 1,500-2,000 words, but overall they give a pretty good impression of the hunting and hunting gun world in Russia. Here are a few snapshots of the third annual issue, for 2018. Continue reading
“I told you we had to go straight to that island, not turn right!”
Dmitry Dorofeev, my LJ pal and fellow Russian Hunting Magazine writer, reports a Great Knot sighting in the Persian Gulf. O.K, so what? So that the bird got that yellow band in Kamchatka, some 8,300 km as the crow flies. And a Great Knot ain’t no crow, besides, there are the Hymalayas on the straight course – the birds must have been going along the Pacific, and then the Indian coasts, some 13,000 km of flapping one’s wings to spend the non-breeding season in the warm.
Insignificant as it may seem, this sighting marks a real scientific discovery – this. population of Great Knots has been recorded in the Persian Gulf for many years, but nobody was sure where they came from. Now they do. Normally these birds winter in Australia, but one flock leader must have failed to ask for directions and took a wrong turn once.
“Young an inexerienced” is how Konstantin Snezhko captioned this video, showing a 2-3 y.o. Amur tiger that has just been driven off by mother tigress to make an independent start. This is perhaps the most dangerous time in a tiger’s life – natural curiosity combined with lack of experience can easily get one into trouble, and the need to cover vast distances in search of appropriate territory only makes things worse.
This search will sometimes take tigers to places totally unsuitable for them – like a big city. The big city in question is Vladivostok, a major port on the Russian Pacific coast, and capital of the Primorye Region that houses Russia’s tiger population. The city authorities used to deny the tigers’ existence within city limits – until October of 2016, when one was captured by a dashboard camera.
It took a few days to locate and immobilize the animal, but – surprize, surprize – it wasn’t the end of it. Just a week later another tiger was caught in Vladivostok! Both tigers were placed in a special tiger shelter and relocated into the wilderness after being vetted and equipped with tracking collars. They apparently thrived on a diet of grabage and stray dogs (dogs being a delicasy for Amur tigers), found ample shelter in parks and abandoned industrial and construction areas, so they were probably not the first and certainly not the last tigers to visit Vladivostok.
How numerous and healthy is Russia’s tiger population is an open question. Environmentalist bodies such as WWF, especially when on a donation drive, claim that Russian tigers are dangerously low in numbers and balance on the edge of extinction. The alternative opinion is that Primorye’s tiger population, estimated at about 600 animals, is healthy and sustainable. The number of tiger encounters seems to support the latter – but it doesn’t mean, of course, that tigers shouldn’t be rigorously guarded. Like on this video, where a protective tigress meets anti-poaching squad.
“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.
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.