Whilst herding satisfied most of the needs of a nomad, hunting in the past served as a source of additional material wealth (furs) and food (meat). It was also entertainment, especially for the rich who retained special personnel including bird attendants (shovuch) and hunting-dog attendants (nokhach). Besides that, hunting was a school of military training through which horsemen honed their skills. Some Kalmyk tribes used wolf hunting as an initiation rite. Hunting with falcons and hawks was especially popular among the nobility. Other methods involved traps, nets, forks, bows and arrows, and later rifles. Small game was usually hunted by individuals in the vicinity of their nomadic camps, whereas larger animals such as saiga antelopes, wolves, wild horses, and boars required groups of hunters who travelled long distances accompanied by their dogs.

Alena Lidzhieva, About Hunting

Karu: In the past, what did your men do on the water? Did they fish?

Alena: No. We did not have fish. Our men often went hunting. They hunted hares.

K: What other animals did they hunt?

A: Foxes, hares, corsacs.

K: Did you eat fox’s meat?

A: No, no one ate it. But we ate hare’s meat. Fox’s meat is considered to be bad, because it is a bad omen.

K: Did people go on wolf hunting?

A: Yes. Only good hunters went for the wolves. Those who had good and strong dogs.

K: How did they hunt wolves? With whips?

A: The dogs would catch a wolf. The hunter would hit the wolf with a whip on its head.

K: In order to catch a wolf alive, did hunters put a stick into its mouth?

A: Maybe that is what hunters did.

K: What did the hunters ride? Horses?

A: Yes, horses. Good hunters had horses. Only the poor hunted by foot. Such poor hunters often returned home with nothing.


Roman Lyariev, About Wolves


Roman Lyariev, Wolf Hunting


Svetlana Suktueva, The Dog in Kalmyk Culture