Tracking Author(s): A. Lavrillier
The most highly valorized technique is solitary tracking. This technique is used especially in the snow season for wild reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), sometimes for red deer (Cervus elaphus) and exceptionally for moose (Alces alces). It is practiced by men from the age of 16˝18 and by a very few women, providing they do not have children.
The hunter sets out in a direction he has chosen instinctively, or by signs he has seen in the animalÝs behavior, or by divination. If he finds tracks, he deduces the animalÝs sex and age and the time of its passage. Leaving his sled, he follows the tracks on reindeer back. When he thinks he has caught up with the animal, he approaches slowly, the ideal being to surprise it and to shoot it immediately. But in most cases, the hunter frightens the animal and must follow it, running through deep snow matching his (or her) own speed and cunning against that of the animal. As difficult as it is, this is the technique the Evenk prefer, admitting that they get caught up in the chase; but some go so far that they do not have the strength to return and they loose their mind. If he is in luck, the hunter butchers out the animal on the spot, in the snow, barehanded; he removes the legs, skins and guts it , and then covers the carcass with a think layer of snow to keep it warm. Then he takes the heart, liver and kidneys back to eat with the family. The next day, he or his wife will go for the carcass that is all ready to be shared out.
Stand hunting is a collective technique practiced in the summer; it is used for moose or red deer. A few men spend several nights in the forest wilderness. Late at night or early in the morning, they take up their concealed posts near watering spots or pastures to wait for the animal. When it arrives, all fire at the same time. If it is a female with her baby or a young animal, they do not shoot, at the risk of returning empty-handed. Young hunters are not fond of this technique, which they do not feel to be very interesting.
Fur-bearing animals are hunted with a crossbow trap which crushes the animal without damaging the pelt. Other kinds of traps without bows are used as well, which crush the animal and break its neck. For bear, moose and red deer, other traps are used in which a crossbow (or today a gun) is set to actually shoot the animal that springs it.
Evenk are reluctant to use the metal and snare traps imported by the Russians to hunt fur-bearing animals: they are dangerous for reindeer and dogs, and can even prove useless if the trapped animals are forgotten or eaten by other animals on the taiga.
The Evenk like to hunt sable (Martes zibellina) using a combination of techniques: the dog is set out on a trail; when it locates the animal, the hunter fires if it is in a tree or smokes it out if it has run to ground. Today, to save bullets, the hunter leaves with not a gun but an axe, either to throw at the animal and knock it down or to cut down the tree; then the dog kills it with a bite. Old dogs with teeth polished by age are preferred over sharp-toothed young dogs because they make fewer holes in the pelt.
Sometimes, dogs are used as pointers, if they are capable, to hunt moose or red deer both in winter and summer. In winter, capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus or parvirostris), ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus or mutus), and other wild fowl are shot on the wing.
Date created: 2003-09-08 - Date modified: 2004-09-27
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