The Great Oak and the Brother and Sister
To Bear Hunting on a Logger
On January 11, 1971 we went to the administrative office of the Vaeg collective farm, Chukotka to look for work. A local hunter Uttel, who had come to hand over the game skins, arrived there on a dog sled. The kolkhoz chairman asked him to take us on a bear hunt. At first Uttel categorically refused, arguing that there was enough meat in the village and there was no point in killing animals just for fun.
The hunter left the office and us to discuss business matters.
Later it turned out that Uttel was the father of Nina, who had invited us to Chukotka in the first place. The same evening we met Uttel at his daughter's house. We opened the bottle to celebrate our acquaintance and Uttel gave in. As a result of our strenuous persuasion he agreed to take us on a bear hunt. The most compelling reason was probably that the kolkhoz chairman wanted to go hunting as well and had promised him a new rifle in return.
We could not take off right away because of the freezing temperatures, reaching up to -56°C.
Three days later, when the weather had grown milder, we drove a logger to a winter shack some 20 km away, from where we travelled on skis to Uttel's hunting cabin.
We had long conversations with the lumbermen and Uttel about bears, their life, habits, old bear hunting traditions and legends connected to bears.
We learned that the locals believe that bears belong to separate race. They are the smartest animals in the woods. They even understand the local languages, particularly the Koryak language, and if talked calmly to, it is possible to come to an agreement with them. They cannot understand the Tang language - it irritates them.