While Kazakh men are considered to be better hunters than women, everything is different when it comes to eagles. Females work better, for they are stronger and more aggressive than males, and would kill some Siberian fox or other prey with much greater enthusiasm. Therefore, hunters deliberately pick up only female chicks from the eagles' nests found in the Altai Mountains' forests. The little eagles have to be around four years old so that domestication goes smoothly. At this age, the pup already knows how to hunt, and is independent of her mother, but not yet too experienced. As soon as the eaglet is brought home, everyone treats her as an equal family member. It is important to spend a lot of time to establish a strong bond between the master and his eagle, and long hunting trips are vital for strengthening these relationships.
In 6 to 8 years, hunters are obliged to set them free to breed in the wild; it is always a sad but inevitable parting. The only thing that remains of the eagle is a fur coat made of prey killed by the skillful bird—hunters wear these coats for hunting to protect themselves from the brutal winter cold, as the hunting season falls on winter months, namely from November through March. Eagles are kept wrapped in cloth which is supposed to keep the birds warm and calm.
Unfortunately, the number of golden eagles is slowly decreasing in the Altai Mountains, and true eagle hunters only number from 50 to 60. Brave adventurers might find one of these and join the hunt. For the rest of the curious travelers there is more convenient opportunity to learn the art of ancient way of hunting—simply visit Golden Eagle Festival held in Olgii (Ulgii) on the first weekend of October.
The video below contains violent content.