Behind our jeep
came a truck full of beaters. Deep in the forest we left the vehicles and went
On by foot. Malinovsky, Shapatin and myself were placed in position by young
Zavodov, while his assistant, carrying a hunting horn, took the beaters to the
opposite end of the section that was to be driven. Ten minutes later the notes
of the hunting horn echoed through the woods, signaling the start of the drive.
Far in the distance I could hear the shouting of the beaters as they slowly
approached us. A cracking of branches to my left attracted my attention, and
three moose cows loped across the break 100 yards away.
long legs carried them at a fast but seemingly effortless pace. They flung
their knees high in front like trotting horses, and as they retreated into the
brush their hind legs came down far apart, causing them to rock from side to
side like pacers.
A few minutes
later the beaters emerged almost simultaneously on the break. They had kept an
even line despite the heavy going in the thick woods. One of them was carrying
the castoff antler of a moose, and he brought it to me. "A present," he
said, and I wondered what in heaven I was going to do with a single moose
After the drive
came the inevitable "soviet," which in Russian means council and which,
I had learned, punctuates every Russian hunt. The beaters insisted that several
bull moose were sheltering in an adjoining area in which no drive had been
planned. Zavodov first insisted that there would be no deviation from our
shooting schedule, but the beaters were good debaters, and eventually won him
over. He turned to me and asked permission to put on an unplanned drive.
Once more he put
the three guns in position. A slight argument followed with Shapatin, who
suggested I stand 30 yards to the right of where Zavodov put me. But Zavodov
was firm, even with his distinguished superior—and, as it turned out, with good
Again the horn
sounded. I checked the safety on my rifle and brought it up to the ready. For
15 minutes I heard nothing but the distant shouts of the beaters. Then a loud
rustling of branches and the pounding of heavy hoofs attracted my attention.
Directly in front of me two bull moose, their heads and thick beards thrust
forward, were trotting through the brush.
As they emerged
into the firebreak 100 yards away to my left, going diagonally away from me, I
fired at the leader. He kicked sideways and darted back into the brush. I
jerked the bolt and waited, with my gun to the shoulder. A moment later he came
out again, this time straight across the break. I fired a second time. He
seemed to flinch as he disappeared into the woods beyond.
When the beaters
appeared I went over to the shot. On the way Zavodov caught up with me. "I
guess I was right about where to place you," he said, smiling.
Both shots had
drawn blood, which was easily visible in the snow. Our jeep driver, however,
who had been ambling casually down the break during the drive, reported that
the first bullet had ricocheted past him. Presumably, it had hit the moose only
a glancing blow in the side. The second shot had hit home.
Zavodov, I cautiously followed the blood-stained tracks in the thick woods. But
I was not cautious enough; a moment later I saw the huge animal lumbering off
down wind of me. I stopped, and Zavodov said "soviet." Back in the
break, hunters, warden and beaters debated how to get the wounded animal, each
expressing his view in detail.