question of trophies." he said to me. "Never in Russian history have
hunters attached any value to them. Ordinarily, when they shot a deer, a moose
or a boar, they carefully preserved the meat and the hide but tossed away the
trophy. They did not care whether they shot a young calf or an old bull as long
as they got the meat. If we can convince them of the pleasure of collecting
trophies they will pay more attention to what they shoot. We should hang a fine
moose head over the mantel here in the lodge just as an example."
At this point the
manager of the domain came in, accompanied by his chief game warden, Nikolai
Zavodov, a young man who had started his career as a fur trapper in Siberia.
They carried a roll of maps, which they spread before us. Zavodov outlined the
plan of campaign for the following day in crisp, almost military, sentences. On
one map he showed where we were located in relation to Moscow. On another he
traced the boundaries of the domain. On a third he carefully outlined the area
we would hunt, indicating the location and direction of each drive and the
position of each hunter.
He said that fair
game for the hunt would include only bull moose and wolves. It was unlikely
that wolves would appear, but some strays occasionally wandered into the area
from neighboring districts. He warned us that we might encounter bears, but
that these are protected on this domain because they are not numerous.
Finally he turned
to me and asked whether I approved the plan. I readily did so, and the two men
left us. Then we went to the gun room to go over our equipment. My Winchester
.30-06 was greatly admired, and Shapatin advised me to use the heaviest
ammunition I had. "Those moose are tough," he said.
Malinovsky had a
very short carbine which fired a vicious-looking bullet that must have been
nearly .50 caliber. Shapatin had a brand-new Russian repeater, with a Mauser
action firing a .32-caliber bullet. They were the only heavy hunting guns I had
seen in the Soviet Union. Generally all game are killed with smoothbores loaded
with slugs. I had been told that Russian hunters consider shotguns more
sporting than rifles as they require the hunter to get within closer range of
his quarry. However, I am inclined to think the absence of rifles is a police
security measure rather than a sporting gesture.
Shapatin took one
look at my heavy homespun breeches and stalking boots and declared them
inadequate. The breeches, he said, would be torn to shreds, and the boots would
be useless in the knee-deep swamps. Some heavy quilted canvas breeches and a
pair of high rubber boots were produced. To keep my feet warm, they gave me
portyanki, strips of woolen material to wrap around one's feet in lieu of
socks. Every Russian soldier, they pointed out, wore portyanki under his boots.
Then they showed me the intricate way of wrapping the portyanki so that no
crease could develop which might raise blisters.
completed, we took a short stroll through the lodge. It was a two-story house
with overhanging eaves and a balcony around the second floor, which gave it the
look of a Swiss chalet that had somehow wandered into northern Russia.
Malinovsky told me it had just been completed and that I was the first guest.
Not even the peripatetic Mr. Khrushchev had visited it yet.
Finally we said
good night, and I went up to my room, or rather, my suite, which consisted of a
sitting room, bedroom and bath, with steaming hot water gushing from the
After a breakfast
of steak and onions we made a quick tour of the camp—a pheasantry, a grouse
hatchery and a stockade, where Siberian roe deer were being acclimated before
being set free in the domain.
Then a Russian
jeep took us to the hunting territory over roads half submerged in mud and
water. Here and there were small ponds where in summer the moose immerse
themselves to fend off insects.