Hunting in Russia - Hunting With Hounds

Hunting With Hounds

Further information: Borzoi and West Siberian Laika

Under Grand Duke Vasili III, who personally loved the huntings for hare, there were over one hundred chasseurs who dealt particularly with wolves and foxes. The court hunt of that time embraced the chasseurs with hounds (выжлятники), their head (доезжачий), borzoi hunters (борзятники), dog-breeders and beaters. Additionally there were cooks, grooms and drivers. Depending on the number of hounds there were big and small hunts. The first one involved forty hounds and twelve packs of three borzois each, and the second consisted of eighteen hounds and twenty borzois in five packs.

The gunless hunting with hounds, particularly for hares or foxes, became widespread in the Russian Empire in the 18th-19th centuries, after the reign of Empress Anna who liked gun deerstalking. Emperor Peter II and Empress Elizabeth were among the most prominent lovers of hunting with hounds. The longest hunt of Peter II took place in 1729 in Tula, where fifty foxes, five bears, five lynxes and many hares were baited between September 7 and October 16. In that time the state kennel consisted of two hundred hounds and 420 borzois. Poaching has been fought notably by Empress Anna and Empress Catherine II.

As landlords, counts and dukes had kennels, there were stables and villages with serfs, who sowed oats which was to be mixed with meat as a hound forage. Each kennel could support up to 1,000 hounds. The Emancipation reform of 1861 put an end to hunting with hounds. In 1917 there were only two hound chases in the fading Russian Empire: Gatchina and Pershino, in the Tula Governorate.

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