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Hunting with Borzoi in the old Russia at the example of the Perchinojagd

 

        German version

von / by Dr. Arpad Asztalos contact: Asztalos@gmx.net
 translation into English G.-D. Lissy

At the time of the bondages up to 1861 was hardly found a manor house in Russia without a breeding of borzois for hunting or Greyhounds as well as hounds for hunting on horseback because this time created a lot of cheap assistants, helpers and workers. The book "die Perchinojagd" of Dimitri Walzoff published in 1912 (Publisher Ursula Brendel, Hamburg) tells the story of the world – famous Borzoi breed of the Russian Grand Sovereign Nikolai Nikolaijewitsch in the village Perchino at the bank of river Upa, approx. 20 miles distance to Tula.

The dimension of his kennel is hardly conceivable for today's conditions. 365 dogs (100 hounds for hunting on horseback, 130 borzois and 15 Greyhounds trained for hunting as well as old dogs and whelps) and 87 horses (20 for beaters, 50 for the borzoi pack and 17 horses for carriage) were part of his kennel. The number of staff was 78 persons (administrators, coachmen, beaters, hunters with borzois, attendants for whelps and veterinarians for the dogs etc.), but there were also bigger kennels for instance that of the landlord Samsonoffs at Smolensk with approx. 1.000 dogs. On the other side there were some rich hunters, which owned only a few packs of borzois. They participated in the hunting meetings of her landlords. 

For practical reasons dogs and orderly lived in the same building during the time of the Perchino hunting. The rooms for dogs had walls inside covered with wood. At that walls stood sleep benches covered with very much straw so that the greyhounds could deeply dig themselves in. To clean the running out this area was ploughed and sewed with oats. The oat was cut regularly. The whelps were gathered in age – groups because whelps of different ages had mobbing problems between young and older dogs. Also the number of the adult dogs was also limited on max.12 per cage compartment. The approval for breeding was given only for 2 year old rude which were already proved in the hunting field. An interesting explanation was done in behalf of hounds for hunting on horseback. Walzloff said “they were much stronger and primarily more robust than the greyhounds: The whelps live there in an overgrown garden like in the woods. They live in simple tents with roof out of straw and they have permanent open doors (also in winter) ".  

The wolves hunting started in the beginning of September. So an intensive dog training started in August (daily approx. 17 km trotting with the horse). The borzoi pack consisted of two young dogs (in general a male and a bitch) and an experienced wolves hunter (rude) 

Up to 24 great hunting were organized during the one-month presence of the Grand Sovereign Nikolai Nikolaijewitsch at the manor. In addition it was a social event. The Grand Sovereign planned the whole management of this hunting with embarrassing precision - mostly directly. It is astonishing and from today's view strange to understand how much hate was involved in this hunting of wolves. Older literature (e.g. the German hunter newspaper, 1912) talks - so far probably exaggerated – “about a big plague of wolves and an extremely dangerous game". So the hunting of wolves was done with a corresponding dedication. The Russian hunting technique run in the following way: An area was partitioned in hunting departments and for each part the hunters with dogs were placed surround in a wide circle. Because it wasn't to cope completely, additional nets were pulled and many horsemen as gamekeeper were placed. A gigantic chain was formed. The hunting horn started the hunting. The so-called trace rider rode with her hounds for hunting on horseback (up to 60) down into the woods to drive the game towards the open field. At the hunting on fox and rabbit no "mixed work" was carried out i.e. only the packs of one and the same owner were allowed to hound the game while the others had to wait until the row was up to them. Not in case of the hunting of wolves. All hunters had to release all her dogs at the same time. For wolves it was fundamentally more heavily than for other game. All wolves captured livingly were gagged and shortly replaced into the field, so that the young dogs (these weren't trained for the hunting yet) could "get used" to the wolves.  

Hunting in autumn wasn’t of interest, because the young wolves were still too little, clumsy and no strong fighter. The winter hunting was regarded as the more thrilling. In autumn the wolves were fed with baits and lured about into the later shooting area. If the hunters found the footprints of wolves in winter, the area was immediately encircled. The dogs became driven on several freight sledges close to wolves. Since the wolves weren't afraid of the sledges unlike the riders, it was possibly rather thick to approach the packs of wolves. Not seldom they catched or killed up to 10 wolves in only 1 ½ hours. Walzoff enthusiastically writes in his book: " ... what a splendid guy. A gigantic wolf lay in the sledge, which pressed the ears tightly to the head and looked with his green shimmering eyes to the hands stroking his broad forehead. The gag tightly fastened between his teeth and his paws tied up don't allow him to express his hate in an other way".  

After completion of the Grand Sovereign hunting the whole party looked like a picturesque painting of people, horses and dogs. Then within a tenth a lunch and the best of wines were served on a dinner table covered with a white tablecloth. Later on the hunting horn signalised for returning home.

Now dear readers - if you should feel more than the perhaps only easy discomfort in reading this article, please don't forget: also in our country the hate was stirred up on wolves at all times. Also we wiped out all wolves in Central Europe. And today, it is still the same: when a lonely wolf is going astray from the Carpathians into the German woods –we will have a mass hysteria in all mediums and our hunters will not get tired before they have cut down the pitiable creature.