3 The Boar Hunt
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21 The Boar Hunt Studying Tracks. Caring for an Unknown Traveler. The Hunting Fanza. Tudinza Mountain and the Upper Reaches of the Lefu River. Wild Boar. Dersu’s Animism. Dreams. The riflemen started to load up the horses after we had tea, and Dersu got his things together as well. He put on his backpack and picked up his shooting stick and rifle. After a few minutes our detachment set off, and Dersu went with us. The ravine we walked down was long and winding. Other gorges, fullofnoisilyrushingwater,convergedwithours.Thegullywidenedand eventuallyturnedintoavalley.Wefoundthatsomeofthetreeshadblaze marks on them from long ago, and these led us along a trail. The Gold always walked ahead of us and was constantly looking at the ground. “What is it?” I asked him. Dersu stopped and told me that we were on a footpath, not a horse trail, that it followed a sable trap line, and that one person (probably Chinese) had walked along it a few days prior. We were flabbergasted by the Gold’s words. Seeing our disbelief, he cried out, “How your no understand? Look yourself!” After which he provided us with such evidence that all of my doubts immediately disappeared. Everything was so clear and so simple that I wassurprisedIhadnotnoticeditmyself.First,therewasn’tasinglehorse track anywhere on the trail. Second, branches had not been cleared on 3 22 The 1902 Expedition its fringes—our horses moved along the path with difficulty and their packs were constantly brushing up against the foliage. The turns were so sharp that the horses could not make them; instead they had to take detours. The trail followed logs across rivers, not through the water as would be expected of a horse trail. There were many wind-fallen trees that had not been cleared from the trail, and while people moved freely past them, the horses had to go around. This was all clear evidence that we were not on a trail designed for pack horses. “Long time one people go,” Dersu said, as if to himself. “People stop go, then rain go.” He then began to figure out the last time it had rained. We walked along that trail for about two hours. Little by little the coniferous trees were being replaced by a mixed forest: we were passing poplar, maple, aspen, birch, and linden with increasing frequency. I wanted to take another break, but Dersu advised that I hold out a little bit longer. “Our soon find fanza here,” he said, pointing to a tree where bark had been peeled away. I understood immediately. It meant that nearby there must be a reason for why the bark had been removed. We continued walking and, ten minutes later, found a lean-to on the bank of a creek, constructed by hunters or those looking for ginseng.1 Looking around, our new acquaintance confirmed that a Chinese man had passed this way several days ago and had spent the night in this lean-to. He pointed out the evidence: the cold ash from the camp fire was pocked by rain, there was a bed of grass large enough for only one person, and there was an old, abandoned bit of daba.2 I finally realized that Dersu was not a simple man. This was a tracker before me, and I couldn’t help but think of the heroes of James Fenimore Cooper and Thomas Mayne Reid.3 1. See plate 7 for an example of a ginseng hunter’s lean-to. 2. Daba is a durable blue material used by the Chinese to make clothing [VKA]. 3. James Fenimore Cooper is probably most famous for his novel The Last of the Mohicans . Although Thomas Mayne Reid is less well known in the United States than Cooper , many of Reid’s books were translated into Russian and found an audience hungry for his tales of the American West. The Boar Hunt 23 We had to feed the horses, and I decided to take advantage of this breakbylyingintheshadeofapineandwassoonasleep.Twohourslater Olentyevwokeme.LookingaroundIsawthatDersuhadchoppedwood, gathered birch bark, and stacked it all within the lean-to. I thought maybe he was going to burn it down, and began trying to dissuade him. But instead of answering, he asked me for a pinch of salt and a handful of rice. Intrigued, I ordered that he be given what he asked for. The Gold carefully wrapped some matches in birch bark, used more bark to wrap the salt and rice into separate packets, and then hung these items inside...


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Subject Headings

  • Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China) -- Description and travel.
  • Natural history -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
  • Dersu Uzala.
  • Arsenʹev, V. K. (Vladimir Klavdievich), 1872-1930 -- Travel -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
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