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LETTER XII.

Frost — White hares - Russian game-laws — A wolf in a house – The

mode in which these animals catch dogs — Anecdotes of wolves Their haunts — Modes of destroying them — By poison, pitfalls, traps, shooting - A man besieged by wolves - Bears — Good sport — Bear-shooting

- Mode in Novogorod of getting rid of bears Singular notions with respect to these animals — Lynxes — Elks.

Rascazava, November 20th, 1837. The winter, according to our English ideas, has now fairly set in, and that with considerable severity. Since the beginning of this month, with the exception of a thaw once or twice for a day or two, we have had very severe frost, and the ice over the rivers is beginning to be passable even for horses and vehicles. Nevertheless, in Russia it is still considered as autumn; for, with the exception of a mere occasional sprinkling, we have as yet no snow, which is so far an advantage that the ground is dry and hard under foot, and we are not precluded from taking exercise and enjoying the sunshine.

Of all animals it appears to me that the hares just at present have most reason to wish for snow. They have now become perfectly white, and, as the ground is not yet of the same colour with themselves, they may be seen fifty yards off on their forms, and must fall a very easy prey to their enemies, the wolf and the eagle, to say nothing of human pursuers.

You perhaps may not be aware that there are game-laws in Russia which prohibit the destruction of game in the spring. The laws, however, on this subject are not, I believe, very rigidly enforced, and the protection therefore which they are intended to afford to the breeding of game is of little effect.

I was presented the other day with the skin of a large wolf, which was killed last winter under somewhat singular circumstances in a neighbouring gentleman's house. The house, which is small, is situated in a retired spot on the outskirts of a large wood, extending up to the very door. There were some puppies about, which probably attracted the wolf, and, emboldened by famine, he followed one of them into the house a step which eventually proved as fatal to himself as to his prey.

The house-door opened into a small ante-room, on one side of which was the kitchen, and on the other a room in which the cook's wife happened to be employed at the time. This woman, seeing the animals indistinctly in the dusk, called out to her husband, who was in the kitchen, that a strange dog had followed one of the puppies into the house. The cook looked out of the kitchen-door, and saw, not a dog, but a wolf in the ante-room, devouring the unfortunate puppy. He called out to the people in the yard, who pulled to the house door, so that the trespasser could not escape; and then they fetched a gun which they handed in through the window to the cook. The wolf was now alarmed; and when the man opened the kitchen-door cautiously, and thrust forward the gun to shoot, the beast rushed at him, and, seizing the barrel of the gun in his teeth, almost pulled it out of the cook's hands. He however recovered it, and retreating secured the door. After a few minutes the cook ventured to look forth again, when he saw the wolf crouched against the door of his wife's room opposite. He called to her to make a noise inside to disturb him, upon which the beast got up, and moving aside he instantly received a shot in the head, which the cook followed up by beating out his brains with the butt-end of the gun.

Wolves are exceedingly fond of dog's-flesh, and they sometimes make use of a very cunning stratagem to obtain it. A wolf or two will approach a village in the day-time, upon which all the dogs run out and begin to bark at them, The wolves then pretend to be frightened and retire, upon which the dogs take courage and advance. At length, by alternately stopping and running away, the wolves entice a few of the more adventurous curs to a considerable distance from the village, when they suddenly turn round upon their foremost pursuers and

them off. Most parts of Russia are sadly infested by these animals, which commit great depredations among the cattle. They are, generally speaking, afraid of human beings, but they occasionally pick up a child in the woods, and instances are by no means wanting of their attacking even grown-up men when the weather is very severe.

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These misfortunes occasionally happen in the neighbourhood of Petersburg, where the wolves are extremely numerous and very daring. At the countryhouse of a near relation of M—'s, about twelve miles from Petersburg, a man was, a year or two ago, attacked in the garden by a single wolf and severely wounded, escaping with difficulty with his life. The same place was the scene of another curious wolf-adventure. A disturbance was heard at night outside the house among the dogs. Several people went out to see what was the matter, but, discovering nothing, though they supposed that a wolf had been there, they came back into the house. Presently, however, they missed one of the servants, a lad of eighteen, who had been one of the first to sally forth. As he did not return, they became alarmed, and, going out again with lanterns to search for him, they were not long before they found him stretched on the ground, apparently dead, with a wolf lying by his side. The young man, happily, was only in a swoon, and he soon recovered on being raised up, but the wolf was dead. As soon as the youth was able to give an account of himself, it appeared that, on the first alarm, he had run out of the house with a large stick in his hand, and had been immediately attacked by the wolf. This so terrified him that, aiming, in his fright, one instinctive blow at his enemy, he fell down in the senseless state in which he was found. The single blow of his heavy stick had, by an extraordinary accident, hit the wolf on the head and had killed him.

When seven or eight of these animals are collected together in the winter, they are often sufficiently dangerous ; and a single wolf, on meeting a man in a lonely place, will sometimes commence howling, until his friends around assemble in sufficient numbers to venture on the attack. They will occasionally even assail travellers on the high road. A friend of mine tells me that once, between Moscow and Petersburg, as he was journeying in an open sledge, it being excessively cold, he was pursued for some miles by a pack of wolves which ran by the side of the sledge, racing “with their hard gallop” a large wood, extending up to the very door. There were some puppies about, which probably attracted the wolf, and, emboldened by famine, he followed one of them into the house-a step which eventually proved as fatal to himself as to his prey. The house-door opened into a small ante-room, on one side of which was the kitchen, and on the other a room in which the cook's wife happened to be employed at the time. This woman, seeing the animals indistinctly in the dusk, called out to her husband, who was in the kitchen, that a strange dog had followed one of the puppies into the house. The cook looked out of the kitchen-door, and saw, not a dog, but a wolf in the ante-room, devouring the unfortunate puppy. He called out to the people in the yard, who pulled to the house door, so that the trespasser could not escape; and then they fetched a gun which they handed in through the window to the cook. The wolf was now alarmed; and when the man opened the kitchen-door cautiously, and thrust forward the gun to shoot, the beast rushed at him, and, seizing the barrel of the gun in his teeth, almost pulled it out of the cook's hands. He however recovered it, and retreating secured the door. After a few minutes the cook ventured to look forth again, when he saw the wolf crouched against the door of his wife's room opposite. He called to her to make a noise inside to disturb him, upon which the beast got up, and moving aside he instantly received a shot in the head, which the cook followed up by beating out his brains with the butt-end of the gun.

Wolves are exceedingly fond of dog's-flesh, and they sometimes make use of a very cunning stratagem to obtain it. A wolf or two will approach a village in the day-time, upon which all the dogs run out and begin to bark at them. The wolves then pretend to be frightened and retire, upon which the dogs take courage and advance. At length, by alternately stopping and running away, the wolves entice a few of the more adventurous curs to a considerable distance from the village, when they suddenly turn round upon their foremost

pursuers and carry them off. · Most parts of Russia are sadly infested by these animals, which commit great depredations among the cattle. They are, generally speaking, afraid of human beings, but they occa

sionally pick up a child in the woods, and instances are by no means wanting of their attacking even grown-up men when the weather is very severe. These misfortunes occasionally happen in the neighbourhood of Petersburg, where the wolves are extremely numerous and very daring. At the countryhouse of a near relation of M—'s, about twelve miles from Petersburg, a man was, a year or two ago, attacked in the garden by a single wolf and severely wounded, escaping with difficulty with his life. The same place was the scene of another curious wolf-adventure. A disturbance was heard at night outside the house among the dogs. Several people went out to see what was the matter, but, discovering nothing, though they supposed that a wolf had been there, they came back into the house. Presently, however, they missed one of the servants, a lad of eighteen, who had been one of the first to sally forth. As he did not return, they became alarmed, and, going out again with lanterns to search for him, they were not long before they found him stretched on the ground, apparently dead, with a wolf lying by his side. The young man, happily, was only in a swoon, and he soon recovered on being raised up, but the wolf was dead. As soon as the youth was able to give an account of himself, it appeared that, on the first alarm, he had run out of the house with a large stick in his hand, and had been immediately attacked by the wolf. This so terrified him that, aiming, in his fright, one instinctive blow at his enemy, he fell down in the senseless state in which he was found. The single blow of his heavy stick had, by an extraordinary accident, hit the wolf on the head and had killed him.

When seven or eight of these animals are collected together in the winter, they are often sufficiently dangerous; and a single wolf, on meeting a man in a lonely place, will sometimes commence howling, until his friends around assemble in sufficient numbers to venture on the attack. They will occasionally even assail travellers on the high road. A friend of mine tells me that once, between Moscow and Petersburg, as he was journeying in an open sledge, it being excessively cold, he was pursued for some miles by a pack of wolves which ran by the side of the sledge, racing “with their hard gallop”

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