In landscape like this, quarry is scarce and the tactic is to follow footprints in the snow on horseback. Slowly and steadily we would meander our way through these boulder strewn hills looking for hare or fox.
Occasionally stopping at a hill or ridge peak with a huge vista ahead of us the eagles hood would be removed and we would sit in the saddle whilst she surveyed the landscape.
Calmly and methodically she would scan all before her looking for the slightest twitch of a tail or whisker. With the incredibly crisp and clear air my own vision seemed to have increased by a few miles, but I was now able to witness eagle eyesight at its best.
One afternoon we were doing just that when, the eagle tensed and gripped the bijalai (mitten glove). She was held aloft and off she went in a dead straight line out over the vast landscape before us. She went on and on, until she was about the size of a sparrow and I thought she was heading for Siberia when I saw her going into a stoop.
The Kazakh’s around me exploded into action and galloped downhill at full speed. I followed at a more sedately pace which showed my lack of horsemanship and steel nerves. By the time I arrived they had a fox marked deep in amongst large boulders which knew it was safe and had no intention of leaving.
The eagle had taken on a flight of at least three to four miles which demonstrated to me the meaning of big country.