One hundred years ago the forests of Hutsulshchyna were full of wild animals and attracted titled hunters from different parts of Europe. The graphs, lords and princes of the known European dynasties hunted here. Having made three expeditions to Africa and two to India the Prince John of Lichtenstein said: “I make more of the wonderful deer rutting season in the Carpathians than the tiger hunting in India”. The closest Hitler’s associate Hermann Goering, later “Nazi number two”, and also a Governor of Galicia District, a group leader of SS Otto Wächter hunted in Hutsulshchyna.
Hutsuls believed that a deer bore out the sun on its antlers from the other world, and portrayed it on the Easter eggs. The wide-brimmed antlers adorned almost every Hutsul house. A noble deer was a symbol of hunting wealth of the Carpathians. Aristocrats from all over Europe came here for hunting.
In the late 19th – early 20th centuries the forest tracts in neighborhood of Yaremche in Nadvirna district were famous with their protected forests and rich hunting territories. The guests of the forestry or the owners of hunting forests took deer, bears, wild boars, wood grouses.
One of the Galician newspapers already in 1899 mentioned that Hutsul forests of Nadvirna region gave to the state 700 000 crowns net profit yearly. At the same time they were hunting places of the higher state nobility. The Prince of Lichtenstein, the Archduke Otton, the Count Silva Taurozza in particular hunted here. The last killed fourteen deer during the week, and the Archduke Otton – three bears.
Typically, the deer hunting season started in autumn in the second half of September, at the height of rutting season. It is the period of deer coupling that lasts almost a month. A deer bellows in this time in order to frighten the rival. To attract the deer to the hunting territories they are given salt in the special salt boxes since the spring, and in winter hay is leaved in feeders. On the winter glades dewberry, osier, juniper, sycamore, ash, mountain ash are planted, which are good forage for the deep in the cold season.
The hunting forests were devastated by many reasons and especially because of poachers. During the Austro-Hungarian period strong measures were used against them. May 16, 1902 the newspaper “Dilo” noted in its current news that in Yaremche some poachers engaged in stealing beasts in the state forests were arrested. A livestock of forest predators namely lynxes and wolves fallen upon the fawns was regulated (partly culled).
The newspaper “Stanislaviv Courier” on September 26, 1900 reported that in Hutsulshchyna a hunting season began, and in the forests of Mykulychyn the Count Ernest Jonas shot an eighteen-years-old deer. The trophies like these had to be photographed. And we see on one of the pictures the villagers of Mykulychyn who have helped to hunt the giant deer for the notable guest.
1905 “Stanislaviv Courier” wrote that the Count Pototski and the Prince of Lichtenstein hunted in the mountains of Nadvirna during two weeks. The Archduke of the imperial family Otton with his retinue joined them on the last day of September. The nobility mainly hunted wild boars. By the way, it is told that the name of the town “Vorokhta” in Sanskrit means “the place where boars inhabit”.
John III, the Prince of Lichtenstein since 1894 received the right for hunting and fishing in the Eastern Beskyd. At his cost a wonderful wooden church in Hutsul style was built in Polianytsia Popovychivska near Tatariv. April 26, 1901 one of the Galician newspapers reported that in the village Polianytsia Popovychivska an estate of Hutsul Ivan Hul was set for an auction. It was purchased by the Prince of Lichtenstein at 60 000 crowns. The Prince owned the forests in Dora, Mykulychyn, Polianytsia, Tatariv and Vorokhta.
The Prince’s of Lichtenstein palace looked like a Swiss chalet and was located at a distance of four kilometers from the center of Tatariv. There was a rich collection of hunting trophies in the palace. The deer antlers and roe horns, luxurious skins of lynxes, wolves, bears, and stuffed birds could be seen here. The guests were amazed of the deer antlers, which the English Lord won in 1904 while hunting on the mountainside of Kostrytsia. They weighed 14 kilograms and had a length of 105 centimeters.
In the forests of the Prince of Lichtenstein the guests-hunters killed 12-20 large deer during the autumn season. They took the deer antlers, gave usually the deer skins to the Prince and meat to the local people. Having made three expeditions to Africa and two to India the Prince John of Lichtenstein said: “I make more of the wonderful deer rutting season in the Carpathians than the tiger hunting in India.”
In October 1908 “Stanislaviv Courier” reported that during the week the Viennese aristocracy including the Princess and the Princes of Lichtenstein hunted in the forests near the village of Tatariv.
On April 22-23, 1912 the Archduke Carl Franz Joseph of Habsburg hunted for the wood grouses in Mykulychyn. The grouse mating ritual in the Carpathians is a fascinating sight. The birds give specific sounds which change into “grinding” and end with a specific kind of sound “stopper” that is associated with opening the bottle. If a wood grouse hen appears, the grouses with magnificent plumage, fanned rudders start a mating dance. At this time the birds do not react on the hunter’s approach.
In the interwar period the professor of the Lviv Polytechnic, later in 1927 – 1930 – the Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Bartley (1882 – 1941) had his villa with spired roof in Kamianka near Dora village. He went hunting, but … without a gun. He went only to admire the grouse mating ritual in spring and the deer rutting season in autumn.
In early 20th century 33 hunting societies acted in Stanislaviv province, one of them – in Yaremche – “Mountain Hunter Society”. The society included, as a rule, foresters, doctors, businessmen, government officials, border guards. The emblem of the society member has a head of a deer depicted on the background of spruce branches and the inscription “Mountain Hunter Society in Yaremche”.
In Mykulychyn two hunting forests were rented in the interwar period and the tenants kept at their own cost the rangers – M. Myroniak and J. Vartsabiuk. The Polish-owners came in Mykulychyn whith their numerous guests only for the deer and wild boar hunting.
“You do not catch the beast, until you learn its life habits”- stated an authoritative Hutsul-hunter. Wasil Prodaniuk, a resident of Vorokhta, was a great expert on animal behavior and, of course, a brilliant hunter (pictured with lynx shot by him, 60s). Since 1922 he worked in hunting farm “Ardzheluzha” of the Count Lambut who rented about five thousand hectares of the forests near Vorokhta namely the forest tracts Labieska, Kukul, Kostrycha and Ozirnyj. Here the titled hunters hunted deer, wild boars, wolves, foxes, lynxes, bears, and chamois.
The son of the famous hunter Mykhailo Prodaniuk said that Herman Goering came for hunting in Vorokhta; then, in 1918, he was a German pilot, a lieutenant that was affirmed by photography. Later, during the occupation, this photo saved the hunter’s family from death. Herman had already been the second after Hitler leader of the Third Reich, a President of the Reichstag and a Reichsmarschal. When the soviet power came Vasyl’s wife, worrying for the life of her family, burned it.
In the interwar period the Count Grabowski had his villa in Vorokhta; he was a ruthless hunter who owned the large areas of the nearby forest. 1925 he shot and killed a local young man, Yurij Pityliak, having unjustly accused him in poaching. A writer Stephan Pushyk described this accident in his book “A feather of a golden bird”: “The family of Grabowski came to Vorokhta from the Kiev region. They have escaped from the revolution as the beast runs away into the dark jungle from hunting bullets. The Government of Pilsudski took compassion on the lords and sent them to the Carpathians. The Captain Grabowski took over the forests and meadows that stretched on the mountains Magura, Rebrovach, Kycher, Foresku…. His house grew near the church. His sniper rifle, which shot still to the Red Army, now was of use for hunting in the rich Carpathian forests. The Captain Grabowski had the habit to inspect their forests early in the morning. Not once he saw a deer, roe, fox or even a bear. He noticed Yura Petyliak on the Magura-glade … His rifle was verified. He knew that Yura Petyliak would not recover his feet. The youth died on the Magura in summer 1925. The Count fled from Vorokhta to Lviv, because Hutsuls made ambushes for him. Death for death, blood for blood, tooth for tooth that is a law of Mountains”.
But the Count escaped, bribed a court and witnesses. Grabowski’s family vault in Vorokhta was razed to the ground in Soviet times, and his son, Leszek Grabowski, was arrested as an agent of foreign intelligence. He died 11/07/1941 during the investigation, his burial place is unknown.
A district governor of Galicia, a prominent figure in the Nazi Party, SS group leader Otto Gustav Wächter selected the hunting forests of Vorokhta during the time of occupation. He ordered to remake the interior of the Teacher House, which belonged to the Society of mutual help of the Ukrainian teachers, into the hunting house. At that time, in 1942, the local school was situated here.
According to local residents, the school was removed to a large house near the railway station, and in reparation of the Teacher House were invested 250,000 zlotys.
A former director of Vorokhta School Stephan Salyk mentioned being in exile that the masters-carvers from Richka and Zhabie were involved for reconstruction. Once, when this work was coming to the end, the school watchman, who looked after the house, invited S. Salyk to see the “classes”. “… I did not want to believe my eyes. What I saw then was like something in a fairy tale … The bedrooms were spacious, and their walls, ceiling gleamed with incrustations. The former dining room transformed into the hunter’s room was hung with the deer’s antlers. The walls were hung with skins of bears, wild boars and lynxes. The governor’s bedroom was upstairs. The beds and all the furniture namely the night tables, lamp risers, candlesticks, chairs, walls were encrusted and shone like inlaid with brilliants. The beds were covered by wool blankets and the floor by carpets”. Of course, by the difficult situation at the front the hunter’s house was not used, and at the end of the war the house burned.
A cull of the deer did not stop in Soviet times. The numerous licenses issued under the protection of the Ministry of Forestry, by the Directorate of Hunting Farm and sealed of the Vorokhta forest combine bear witness thereof. For example, a deer shooting license №000158, issued on November 10, 1977.
Now the above-mentioned former hunting territories belong to the Carpathian National Nature Park, where a significant environmental work is addressed, in particular, for the preservation and enhancement of the Carpathian deer. Hunting for deer population is strictly prohibited and punished by law.
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