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About hunting

First it should be explained "hunting with borzois" (or simply "hunting") has here two meanings: first - hunting itself, i.e., dog hunting of an animal; second - the complete of men, horses, dogs, hunting amunitions (here and there the term "venery" may be used).

Hunting with borzois in Russia is about five centuries - a great historical duration. It hase been one of the most favourite entertainments of Russian monarchs and their nobles. The hunting with Borzoi is sometimes also called a complete hunting being carried out by horsemen with borzois and hounds*. Such hunting system includes a large service staff. To evaluate a former scale and splendour of venery in serfdom Russia you need to imagine great tzar veneries and the most outstanding noble families ones, composed with about 150 borsois and some 120 hounds, dozens of horses and hunters dressed in special parade hunter costumes, and with cooks and servants as well.

Since the abolution of serfdom (1861) such a great veneries became scarce. A complete hunting has been more often organised by neighbouring landlords, having in hold several packs of borzois each and one pack of hounds in mutual owership. However, this fact has played a certain positive role for borzoi breeding. Familly breed groups of borzois having a certain distinctions, had been continually merged in a single breed having got the first standard in 1888.

After the October Revolution (1917) the complite hunting have been in fact destructed, the best samples of borzois being partly exported and the rest of these being degenerated because of unskilled crossing. "Ways" of borzois and hounds parted in the course of socio-political restructions in the country. Hounds got to be used at gunning, while the borzois began being hunted with in steppe regions with no need to turn out of the beasts from its clumps.

Even now with economicals changes taking place in the country it is next to imposible to revive the complete hunting in all its splendour. Nevertheless first attempts are being held and we will possibly witness the revival of our noble national hunting though not in its full scale. Many enthusiasts-hunters live with the hope. They make great efforts to maintain the Russian borzoi breed, to store a masterpiece and pride of native cynology.

What can be said of nowaday venery in Russia? It is mostly carried out with borzois only. Two ways of hunting are practised: clump hunting with beaters (pic.1) and "rovnyashka" (pic.2). The latter ( "rovnyashka") is a way of hunting when men are lined in chain at the distance of 25-50 metres and walk around field. The number a beast rises will work, the rest ones stand still. Such a way is practised in steppe at hare ("rusak") or fox hunting. Clump hunting with beaters is used in temperate zone: a clump is surrounded by hunters; from one side "numbers" (hunters with borzois) are placed, while at the other there moves a "chain" of drivers, who are starting a hare ("byelyak") or a fox with the cries produced and turning out the animal towars numbers. The one who "meets" a beast works.

Since most Russian borzoi owners reside in large cities now; and it would be a probleme to go to the country for the whoul autumn, generelly venery in a form of field testing and competitions is being practised. In fact it is usual hunting and only an expert commission presence, firstly, gives an order to the hunting itself, makes hunters to obey the discipline; secondly, allows to estimate working features of dogs. All the dogs are admitted at testing, while only those having "field" diplomas are to take part in the competitions. "Field" diploma is an official document (certificate) with borzoi's working caracteristics evaluation, that is: its speed (friskiness), sharp-sight, persistence, strength, catching caracteristics, skill, treatment of an animal caught and menner of behaviour on leash and without it as well.

Thus, venery is a loving of borzois and hounds, of animal hunting and everything included in this process. The passion is exactly as noble as a passion to rifles, horses, music, painting and so on. Real borzoi hunter considers hunting to be a science: he strictly keeps to all its regulations, that makes harmony, order and delight thanks to their fulfilling. You, an honourable reader, may probably be penetrated by desire to participate in the unique hunting and therefore you should learn some of these regulations.

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* - It would probably be essential to explain the difference between borzois and hounds: borzois are the hunting dogs, they catch an animal, following it in the field, while hounds trace the victim around clump, making it to encounter hunters with its barking.

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