In this expectation they were not deceived. About a week after the offer had been proclaimed, a Finnish peasant (one of the Quäns, as they are called) made his appearance at their headquarters, add announced that he had “ringed” a black bear. It was welcome tidings; and the young Russians at once proceeded to the indicated place.
It may be necessary to explain what the man meant when he told them he had “ringed” the bear; since that is a phrase of specific meaning throughout the countries of Scandinavia. In these countries, when the track of a bear is observed in the snow, it is followed up by the person who has discovered it, with the intention of “ringing” the animal—that is, ascertaining as near as maybe, the locality in which it may have halted from its rambles, and lain down to rest. Of course, if the person thus trailing the bear be a hunter—or if it be a party of hunters actually engaged in the chase, they will keep on until they have found the bear in his den. But in nine cases out of ten, bears are not pursued in this fashion. Generally, their haunt—whether temporary or otherwise—has been ascertained beforehand, by some shepherd or woodcutter, and a party of hunters then proceeds to the spot, and makes a surround of the animal before rousing him from his lair.
This “surround,” however, has nothing whatever to do with the “ringing” of the bear, which is an operation of a different character, and is performed by the party who has first chanced upon the tracks. The mode of proceeding is simply to follow the trail, or spar, of the bear as silently as possible—until the tracker has reason to believe that the animal is not far off. This he discovers by observing that the spar no longer trends in a direct line, but doubles about in zigzags, and backward turnings, upon itself; for when a bear intends to lie down, it is his habit to quarter the ground in every direction, precisely as does the hare before squatting in her form.