Охота тундровых юкагиров

Despite the fact that in the last century fish was the main food Yukaghir people, they continued to perceive themselves as wild reindeer hunters. Having a permanent nomadic and hunting area, the Lower Kolyma Yukaghirs grazed their domesticated reindeer in certain places in order to preserve pastures for the wild. Before the beginning of hunting season, people did not go to these pastures unnecessarily, so that the wild reindeer would not smell a human (Kreinovich, 1972, 84p). There was a clear prohibition on hunting wild reindeer: no reindeer was hunted from calving until early August (Kreinovich, 1972, 77 p).

The most archaic methods of fishing were preserved in the tundra at the beginning of the XXth century. These methods involved broad collective participation. Since they were conducted in the tundra, they belonged to the summer half of the year. Their principle was to drive the reindeer herd into a reservoir, near which the reindeer fled from the heat and insects. In the water, a reindeer was much less maneuverable than the hunter in the canoe; moreover, when killed, he did not drown. At this time of the year, a reindeer were already gathering in large herds. It was a very important time to harvest meat for the winter, as well as hides for clothing. Therefore, the assembly of elders distributed the hunters in the most optimal way among the nomadic families.

Такая охота предполагала выслеживание стад. Самым простым способом было подловить группу оленей, которая забредала на озерный мыс. Тогда у его основания собирались женщины и дети стойбища, которые не давали оленям вернуться по суше, а с противоположного берега навстречу оленям выплывал на челноке охотник с ружьем или копьем. Колоть оленя разрешалось в почку, чтобы не портить шкуру. В августе-сентябре при наступлении темных ночей юкагиры сооружали в темноте около больших озер из кочек и земли длинные цепочки пирамидальных фигур, близких к человеческому росту, которые представляли коридор наподобие воронки. Своей узкой частью коридор выходил на берег озера. 

Днем строительство прерывалось, а олени на эти сооружения не обращали внимания. Когда такая аллея была построена, юкагиры под утро выслеживали стадо и гнали его в сторону аллеи. В тумане и полутьме олени принимали земляные фигуры за живых людей и мчались мимо них, чтобы оказаться в озере. Навстречу им выплывали в челноках охотники с копьями.

The old people watched the slaughter, and when they decided that enough reindeer had been hunted, the slaughter was stopped (Kreinovich, 1972, 85 p). In Eurasia, the Nganasan people practiced the same hunting method at the beginning of the XXth century (Popov, 1948: 31-34 pp). The antiquity of driven hunting in the tundra, or rather a certain indigenousness of the Yukaghir population is indicated by the fact that both the closest neighbors of the Yukaghirs – the Evens, who came to the tundra from the forest zone, and the neighbors of the Nganasans, the Dolgans, do not use this method. Such hunting involves the participation of specially trained hunting dogs, and the Evens of the Lower Kolyma considered it sinful to keep dogs on the farm, believing that the dogs would exhaust reindeer (The Yukagirs, 1975, 59 p).

Other types of hunting for wild deer among the tundra Yukaghirs were also characteristic of the surrounding population. This, first of all, concerns the "floating" – the slaughter of reindeer herds at the crossings across large rivers during seasonal migrations. Here the Yukaghirs united with their Russified brethren, Russian old residents, Evens, especially since some of these hunting places were located near settled settlements. The Yukaghirs call the Even method of hunting wild deer with the help of domestic ones as a means of transport – riding in the summer, and in the winter – on sledges (Yukaghirs, 1975, 60 p), although it also had a Yukaghir name (Kreinovich, 1972, 91p). The principle of pursuit was that the deer escape from the hunter along a curved trajectory representing a circle with a large radius. The hunter catches up with them, moving across them, proceeding from his geometric imagination. This gambling type of hunting probably came to the Yukaghirs from the Evens, who had more riding reindeer.

Поздней осенью в период гона диких оленей и их оленьих «турниров» на всей тундровой полосе распространения дикого оленя начинался промысел дикого оленя при помощи оленя-манщика, который позволял охотнику подобраться близко к стаду, убить его вожака и, пользуясь возникшим замешательством стада, добыть еще нескольких. Охота с манщиком была зимней.

Для этой роли подходил домашний олень серой масти, по своему окрасу похожий на диких, и с большими ветвистыми рогами. У него на шее закреплялся длинный аркан, конец которого на лбу оленя имел костяной гребень. Другой конец был в руках охотника, который подкрадывался к стаду, заслоняясь манщиком. Охотник управлял оленем, натягивая аркан, и тогда костяной гребень врезался оленю в лоб. Или же охотник пускал арканом «волну». Манщика обучали не наступать на аркан, ложиться и вставать при рывке аркана, послушно поворачивать голову направо и налево и т.д. После шести-семи лет обучения охотник отваживался выпускать манщика без ремня.

In late autumn, during the period of wild reindeer rutting and their reindeer "tournaments" on the entire tundra strip of wild reindeer distribution, wild reindeer were hunted with the help of a beckoning reindeer who allowed the hunter to get close to the herd, slaughter its leader and, taking advantage of the confusion of the herd, to get more several. It was a winter type of hunting. For the role of beckoner, the Yukaghirs chose a domestic gray reindeer, which was more similar in color to wild deer, and with large branched antlers. A long lasso was attached to his neck, the end of which had a bone crest on the reindeer's forehead. The other end was in the hands of a hunter, who sneaked up to the herd, shielding himself with a decoy. The hunter controlled the deer, pulling the lasso, and then the bone comb crashed into the reindeer's forehead. Or the hunter would send a “wave” with a lasso. A beckoner reindeer was taught not to step on the lasso, lie down and get up when pulling the lasso, obediently turn his head to the right and left, etc. After six or seven years of training, the hunter dared to release the beckoner without a belt.

Sometimes the Yukhagirs hunted with two beckons – a male and a female. Sometimes together with a riding reindeer (with the saddle removed), which was also specially trained. The hunter followed them, imitating the movements of the fawn.

When the snow became deep and remained loose, the hunter's ability to track and capture the beast was reduced. Then the crossbows were alarmed, having discovered the trail of wild reindeer. Crossbows were marked with well-distinguishable signs, so that they could be easily found without being killed yourself. Such work in deep snow was dangerous, so the best hunters did it. The crossbows were placed as close as possible to the chum, since the hunted reindeer began to rot from the long lying in deep snow, its meat and skin deteriorated. In the forest zone, wild reindeer and elk were hunted in the spring by skiing on the ice. This type of hunting was practiced by both the Lower and Upper Kolyma Yukaghirs. It was convenient at this time, as the hunter had an advantage of speed thanks to the skis, which did not allow him to sink in deep snow.

Vladimir Yokhelson writes that some archaic tools for birds hunting were preserved, oddly enough, among the Russified Yukaghirs of the Lower Kolyma. These are sling and darts (Yokhelson, 2005, 550 p). Vladimir Bogoraz also mentions this, at the Anadyr River creek (Bogoraz, 1991, 82-83 pp). Further to the west, these bird hunting tools do not spread, but only to the east – to the American continent.

Another type of driven hunting among the Yukaghirs concerned molting geese and was widespread throughout the whole Russian Arctic. Its essence is that such a large waterfowl like a goose, being nutritious and fat, is unable to fly during the molting period. Unlike a reindeer, she feels insecure on land. Therefore, it is carefully collected from the upper reaches of the rivers into a large flock. On one of the sloping banks, they enclose a large rectangular space and block the river below, so that the bird is easily driven inside this enclosure, where the necks of the geese are folded with their bare hands.

Tripods and fishing nets were used to set up such enclosures, but since the Yukaghirs had few of them, only the side facing the river was covered with a net, and chum covers and clothes were hung on the other two sides. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the difference between the Yukaghir moulting geese fishery and other northern peoples was in a heartfelt ritual performed by old people before the start of slaughtering a defenseless bird. It was a song sung by an old man or an old woman in which they told the geese that death is like a dream, and after death there is rebirth. After the song, each person took a goose from the collected flock and released it into the wild. This gesture was required for everyone, including babies for whom the bird was released by their parents. Then they proceeded to slaughter. The last goose was also released (Kreinovich, 1972, 80-81 pp). Ice cellars were built for the caught bird in the permafrost. The bird was gutted, but the feathers were not removed.

Когда же гуси только начинали нести и высиживать яйца, их ловили на гнездах либо петлей, либо руками. В первом случае петлю ставили вокруг яиц и тщательно маскировали, а охотник прятался поблизости с концом веревки, чтобы вовремя затянуть петлю, когда гусыня сядет на яйца. Ловля руками предполагала маскировку и закапывание самого охотника с раскинутыми руками чуть ли не под самым гнездом.

Когда прилетала гусиная пара, охотник ловил сначала гуся, а поскольку гусыня без него не улетала, то затем и ее (Там же, с.78). От этого способа добычи веет глубокой древностью, но он вызывает недоверие, так как при столь капитальной подготовке очень трудно замаскировать все ее следы, а к тому же на месте остается гораздо больше человеческого запаха, чем при постановке петли, и дикая птица должна его учуять.

With the arrival of the Russians, hunting for fur animal took an important part of the Yukaghir hunting, which was a means of paying for yasak, as well as a monetary equivalent in local market relations. Sable, as the most common of the valuable fur animals, disappeared already in the second half of the 19th century. For the tundra Yukaghirs, the main fur-bearing animals were the arctic fox and the fox, for the taiga - the fox and the squirrel. Already under Jochelson, traps were set on arctic fox and fox, which the hunter checked several times during the winter. The tundra Yukaghirs went hunting on sleds pulled by a deer. The hunter's task was to find the trail, then he chased the animal and killed it with a club. The taiga Yukaghirs hunted a fox with a dog, shot a squirrel with a special small shot, sometimes they took a bow with blunt arrows to hunt with a gun. Crossbows, unlike the Yakuts, were rarely placed. The tundra Yukaghirs also hunted the wolf, this hunt took place together, on two reindeer sleds. Having caught up with the wolf, they threw a lasso on it (Yokhelson, 2005, 551-553 pp).

Плужников Н.В.
(из книги Народы Северо-Востока России)

по материалам Энциклопедии «Арктика – мой дом: народы Севера»,
М. 2001