Mongolia- Altai Kazakh Eagle Hunting History (over 2000 years old)
Before put here many legends about Altai Kazakh Eaglehunting history, let me to give some informations about Golden Eagle and Altai Kazakh Hunting Skills.
Golden Eagle is a bird of eagles family, predatory class, In Kazakhstan lives everywhere, except - woodless deserts and steppes; in the south of Kazzakhstan – settled, in the North - partially migratory. Size - up to 95 sm, wing-span - up to 220 sm, weight 4 - 6 kg. Plumage is of the same kind, dark – brown, nape and neck - goldish-red, young individuals have white, with a wide black strip on the end, tail, lower part of a wing - with large white spots. A down nestling - only white. Gplden Eagle settles in couples, making huge (up to 2 мin a diameter) nests in niches and on ledges of rocky breakages, on trees. In March- April hen lays 1 - 3 eggs (hen sits on eggs about 45 days) . The nestlings leaves nests in 2,5 months of old, but parents are guardians along time. Golden Eagle lives about 100 years in natural conditions. Eats: in mountains – marmots, kekliks, ulars, reven and gophers; in deserts – sandpiper, rabbits, partridges, hazel grouses, turtles, snakes and etc. Occasionally attacks the foxes and badgers.
The Kazakh names of Golden Eagle. Long since Golden Eagle is used as hunting bird. The hunting with Golden Eagle is specific , at the present time, is supported by the experts – hunters (berkutchi). A hunting with Golden eagle requires special knowledge and patience. The hunters - berkutchi names Golden Eagle depending on age: till 1 year - balapan, 2-year's - kantubit, 3-year's - tyrnekl, 4-year's - tastulek, 5-year's – muzbalak, 6-year's - koktubit, 7-year's - kana, 8-year's - zhana, 9-year's - maytubit, 10-year's - barkyn, 11-year's - barshyn, 12-year's - shogel. Golden Eagle is a very rare bird and booked in the Red book of Kazakhstan and USSR.
Hunting with Golden Eagle is one of the most unique features of the Kazakh life. The hunter is named kusbegi or berkutchi. The experience of wild birds training was gained by Kazakh kusbegi by centuries, the secrets were impacted from the father to the son and kept deep secret. At the present time we can meet few people with such name. These masters have innate gift of wild birds training. For a hunting they tame falcons, golden eagles and eagles. Names of birds are given depending on their appearance and battle characteristics. The hunting with Golden Eagle are during ten centuries. Was considered, to present the teenager a nestling of hunting bird, means, to wish to him to begin courageous, strong dzhigit. To train golden eagle – it is the high art. The caught bird gradually accustom to the owner. For it berkutchi some nights doesn't close eyes and interdicts to sleep golden eagle. The bird can take feed (bits of uncooked meat) only from hands of the owner. After bird will get used to the hunter- berkutchi, his horse and dog, berkutchi begins to train to hunt for stuffed fox and only then the real hunting begins. Specially trained golden eagler hunts for small animals: rabbits, foxes, partridge, black hazel grouses.
Equipment for a hunting with hunting birds. For a hunting with hunting birds specially prepare equipment: a coverlet, cap, couch and leash. Bardak - special wooden prop for a hand - try without it to bring on the stretched out hand a bird of weight 6-7 kg! Shyrga – skin of hare or fox is filled with straw. This is manual for a bird. The hunter drags along shyrga with long rope along steppe and teachs golden eagle to attack prey. Kusbegi must have inexhaustible patience and persistence.