Hunting with golden eagles is one of the seven treasures that God gave to the Kazakhs. Eagle is the king of heaven. It helped the Kazakhs to survive on foreign soil when they moved to Mongolia, hiding from the Soviet Union. Berkutchi began to mine fur of foxes and other animals and exchange it from the Mongol for necessary things.
The modern ethno-cultural situation in Bayan-Ulgiy aimak is like that: almost 90% of Kazakhs, but not all of them are Berkutchi, this skill is transmitted only to privileged families. Being a hunter with a golden eagle is very prestigious and expensive, a hunter must have several hand embroidered expensive suits with fur, fox caps, leather boots, a silver harness for a horse and some special eagle staff: a leather hood and a thick leather glove – a kolgap.
Janerke Khaizim’s daughter is 18 years old. She is the 8-th generation of berkutchi in her family. Being male or female is not really important for eagle hunters. What is important is to be brave and patient. Anyway man-hunters still looking down woman-hunter.
– The eagle eats 500 grams of meat a day, but we do not feed it for several days before hunting, the bird should get hungry, otherwise it will not want to hunt,” Haizim says, while the night descends on the yurt. “The eagle serves the hunter for 4-5 years and we will free it, because the bird is created for freedom. Although my last golden eagle was with me for 8 years. It was a very famous eagle! It did not want to fly away from me for a long time, spinning around and left only after I slaughtered a ram and took it away to the mountains. There are hunters who mistreat their birds, others treat well and the golden eagle does not want to part with them. The hunter must love his bird, talk with it, if someone treats bad the golden eagle, it will never forget it, will wait and one day attack the master. Domestication of a bird is a difficult occupation, it takes a lot of patience, I tame the golden eagle for about three months, I’m with it all the time, at first it’s aggressive, does not want to take food from my hands, but then gets used to it. And then we hunt together in the mountains, having one spirit for two, I also fly with him.