Almost like in Africa
In my youth, back in the Soviet era, I often went to the bestial hunt, where mostly moose were shot. These were the annual trips with the hunting team, in which I was a member of the SBI (Military Hunting Society), and trips at the invitation of others
societies. But the most frequently experienced riflemen standovik attracted to the so-called commercial shooting, where animals were mined for the delivery of meat to the state.
It was on such hunts that for many seasons I, like many of my fellow friends, managed to get several dozen elks. It cannot be said that these were light hunts and that we went just to shoot, as many have thought and still think. Almost always, the huntsmen were eliminated after the pens from further “labor participation”, and we had to not only carry the animals, load them into the Ural or GAZ-66, but also butcher them. Yes, so as not to cut the skin, because it, too, had to be sold. I somehow even accompanied the meat to the reception center. I remember that at 20 degrees of frost, we put ten elks in one pen of ten, and I still remember our stiff hands in elk fat and sweaty jacket with sweat. In addition, we did not have the right to slip, and most importantly – to wounded animal. There was simply no time for his dobor. Therefore, the shooter who made the wounded animal or missed, on the next hunt has already become a beater. And it’s impossible to refuse – we were military people, because we were competing for military clubs and we gave military ranks to all the sportsmen-standers. And there were hunts on which it was necessary to shoot necessarily in the head or neck. Such moose were exported, and the meat could not be spoiled by a bullet. It was these hunts that weaned us from irresponsible and unreliable shots. And by the way, we didn’t have any carbines. They all fired from smooth semi-automatic machines (mainly from MTS-21-12) and, it happened, put three or four beasts per number.
Why did I tell all this? It’s just that I hunted down on hunting hunts, adding to them five more seasons of collective driving hunts in East Germany, where season departures took place every Saturday and Sunday. The season in Germany lasted almost half a year. But in the individual hunts had to take part less often. Therefore, having traveled to Africa and became acquainted with safaris, I now prefer to hunt an elk using the African pattern: that is, driving a car, finding a beast, and approaching the right shot. Every year, having saved up some money, I travel to the Tver region on a local safari. Everything here except the weather, as in Africa. One shooter, one huntsman – pi-ey (professional hunter, from the English. PH – professional hunter), and a couple of trackers from local hunters. Plus, the operator with photo and video equipment is my friend and the correspondent of our magazine, Valera (he is the driver).
This season still happened. And so early in the morning, at about six o’clock, we are already in the village where the huntsman lives. In the private hunting estate of the Tver region arrived on weekdays, since all the weekends are occupied by large companies. The weather is perfect – light frost up to 10 degrees and clear sky, suggesting a clear day. Now the end of November, a shallow snow completely covered the ground, and most bulls do not yet have to throw off the horns. Our chances are definitely quite good. Of course, it is better to hunt in late October – early November, when even large individuals have not yet begun to throw horns, but it just so happened. Huntsman Nicholas comes into the garage and leaves the terrible monster with huge wheels. We are familiar with such an aggregate, in the Vologda region it is called “shishkotryas”. We with Valera chill shivering. We assumed that there would be a ride in a warm all-terrain vehicle and a lot of walking, and dressed accordingly. And here you have to sit “on the street.” But nothing, tolerate. The dawn is breaking, we (the shooter, the tracker Vitaly and Valera) are loading into a “shishkotryak”, and Kohl is taxiing to the road. Of course, it was possible to leave early and hunt still in the dark – after all we have two observant thermal imagers and the same sight on a carbine, but, as we know, with all the advantages of this device, he does not see cold horns. So, in the dark we do not distinguish the bull from the cow, and further actions lose their meaning. So, we go at dawn.
Nevertheless, Valera carefully examines the edge of the device, because the naked eye does not penetrate deep into the forest. Although it is not clear how he does it. In the back, we are thrown at each other, because the field to which we left is bumpy and doesn’t even have a semblance of a road. However, Valera still at dusk can somehow detect the elk standing on the edge of the forest. We stop and begin to consider it (or her) in all possible devices. Nothing is clear – only the body is visible. We can’t get closer, the all-terrain vehicle growls too loudly, and the beast obviously won’t let us in. Kohl, however, declares that this is a bull on the figure, and invites me to try to come up, but I do not need any bull-calyx, but at least three or four years with decent horns.