Do you know what it a “bull”? It’s a reindeer. They stand in separate herds, or right next to chums in a small corral. By the way, do you know what corral is? It’s an enclosure for deer. It is usually quite large, with enough space for conducting veterinary and zootechnical treatment. Sometimes small corrals are made up for the “bulls”, so that they are always within reach. Large ones are made up rarely, usually twice a year – in the spring and summer, for the piece count (corralization) and marking the herd. Otherwise, deer graze in an open field, procuring reindeer moss with their hoofs within 3-5 km from chum. And do you know what is a “piece”? It’s a part of a herd that departed the main group and went roaming God knows where.
It’s not difficult to trace the “piece” and get it back to the herd in winter. Deer rarely go further than 5 km within one night, which, compared to the size of tundra is just a block away. It’s more complicated when a “piece” joins the herd of the neighboring brigade, since it’s hard to separate them without a corral. Even if there are 10 heads in the “piece” it’s quite some problem, what to expect, when there are 200…
It does occur quite rarely. The “pieces” sometimes do leave the herd, it does indeed happen. But the probability that it would come across another herd in the vast territory of tundra, is very small. Moreover, the migration routes of deer are predetermined and mutually agreed upon in advance. But it does happen every now and then. And if it does, want it or not, the brigades need to catch the “alien” deer and get them back to their herd.
To witness this large scale operation you need to have quite some luck. Matvey, our guide in tundra, said that he has seen it for the first time in the last 10 years. Usually you catch deer for meat, and you only need just 1-2 heads. It takes some 10-15 minutes, maybe even less. Thus, the major part of the photos documenting the process are set acts. Photographers simply do not have enough time to get good photos within such a short period of time, and ask reindeer herdsmen later on to pose, as if they are noosing with tynzyan (Nenets noose for catching deer). I have seen myself a few times how this kind of set acts are taking place.
This time, though, the situation was completely different. The process of catching 200 heads, took… 2 whole days! Not counting an extra day for the preparations. Both me and Sasha Sorin had a chance to watch this process for 5 hours, and even to participate in it. We could have continued to take part, but we were tapped out by then – running in banks of snow, sinking into it up to your waist is quite tiresome.
So, here are some photos from the large scale deer catch. With some comments.
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