Sergei Zhukov was graduated from St. Petersburg University in Leningrad, Russia, and wanted to be a physicist. However, World War II was just starting, and the Germans were on the Russian doorstep. During a college project, he had developed a long-range bear-hunting rifle, and the Russian Army was interested in him and his ability to develop an even longer-range sniper rifle. He did so, and the Army High Command commissioned him to go out and follow the German SS Panzer divisions that were invading Russia and shoot as many of their high-ranking officers as possible. He was very successful. In three years, he was in many engagements, some lasting only one day and others lasting many months. He and his spotter and two wolf dogs lived off the land any way they could to survive. The German SS sent out hunters after him on many occasions. The German SS had also put an extremely large, ever-growing bounty on him. His response was to send back the bounty posters to the SS division commanders attached to the well-chewed SS hunters, with a message: "The Eye of the Wolf is upon you." He became an enigma to the German SS and a folk hero to the Russians. His missions started at the Poland/Russia border and went on to Moscow. He was then sent to the Crimea, then Stalingrad. He then went back north to Leningrad, and each time, he engaged the German SS panzer divisions.
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Eye of the Wolf
One Russian Rifle against the German SS Panzer Tanks during WW-II
By Ray McComber
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2013 Ray McComber
All rights reserved.
Late August 1939
Sergei Nicoli Zhukov had just been graduated from the St Petersburg State University with a Masters Degree in Physics. He had gone through school on a full time basis and was now looking forward to some time off and a vacation before reporting to the military in January 1940. This would be his military service obligation.
Sergei grew up in the town of Peterhof; this is a suburb of Leningrad, Russia. It is about 35 kilometers west of Leningrad on the south shore of the Gulf of Finland. It was a very well to do suburb, as his parents were both professors at the State University. His father, Mikhail Ivonich Zhukov, was a professor of Mechanical Engineering specializing in metallurgy. His mother, Alexandra Christina Zhukova, was a professor of Astronomy specializing in optics.
During past summer vacations, Sergei and his parents had always gone to their summer dacha on the north shore of the Gulf of Finland. There they would fish, ride horses, go boating, and go on hunting trips into the lake region to the northeast. This summer had been different, as Sergei had taken extra courses in order to graduate early. He would be going on vacation alone as his parents were preparing to go back to the University for the fall school term.
Sergei had been planning his vacation for many months and was excited about going hunting for bear in the lake region. His degree was in physics, but his area of interest was armaments. He had always been a hunter and wanted to develop a rifle that was more accurate and easier to shoot than the rifles that were on the current market.
During his last year in school for his special project, he developed a hunting rifle that on a test range outperformed any other rifle. He started with a Mauser-91, 11.5-millimeter. This was a very heavy rifle and shot a very large bullet. The initial rifle had a barrel length of 85 centimeters. The lead bullet weighed 28.5 grams and had a muzzle velocity of 750 meters per second. This was about average for a rifle and the penetrating power was minimal, but the knock down power was extreme.
The rifle that he developed had a longer but smaller barrel. The barrel was 95 centimeters in length and the bullet was reduced in size to 8 millimeters. He used the same brass cartridge and necked it down to fit the 8-millimeter bullet. Thus he would be using the same powder load as the 11.5-millimeter cartridge. The weight of the bullet went form 28.5 grams to 15.5 grams. The muzzle velocity went to 1,150 meters per second. This produced a number of advantages. The bullet trajectory was a lot flatter, thus providing for higher accuracy. The knock down power was lessened but not to the point of being a detriment. However, the penetrating power more than made up for this. The rifle worked perfectly on the practice range and he was ready to take it out and prove it in the real world.
Attached to his new rifle he mounted an 8-power small tube scope that allowed for extended distance and accuracy. On the practice range he could hit a 1 meter target consistently at 800 meters and a high percentage of the time at 1,000 meters. At 1,200 meters, he could hit the target about 25 per cent of the time. This was a vast improvement over the original 11.5-millimeter rifle. With it and the added scope he could hit the target consistently at 600 meters and after that the accuracy fell off to where it could not be deemed accurate.
The morning he started on his vacation he had breakfast with his parents and they all reviewed his plans. His father said, "So, you are to go from Peterhof by ferry to Kotlin Island and there catch another ferry to the north shore." Kotlin Island was an island in the Gulf of Finland. It was about 35 kilometers northwest of Peterhof and it was about another 35 kilometers to the north shore of the Gulf of Finland.
Sergei replied, "Yes and from there I will catch the bus and travel the 65 kilometers west along the shore to the summer dacha. Vlad and Marina will be there to meet me."
Sergei's mother added, "Yes, they are very responsible. I feel so much better that we have them full time. They seem to enjoy the freedom allowed by staying there."
They had fulltime caretakers at the summer dacha; an older retired couple, Vladimir and Marina Lisov. They took care of the place and did any repairs that were needed. The caretakers also looked after the horses and did a little gardening and fishing to help pass the time and bring in some added income for themselves.
Sergei then continued, "When I leave there, I will take two horses and travel to the lake region and set up a camp and go bear hunting and try out my new rifle in the real world. I plan to camp out about four to five weeks total including travel time."
"I know the rifle worked to perfection on the practice range, but do not take any chances up there. There is no one to back you up," answered Sergei's father.
Sergei had finished his packing and said his good-byes. He then walked the two kilometers to the commuter train station to catch the train to the ferry port. He had a backpack and his rifle. He figured he would travel light until he got to the summer dacha and then he would get added supplies. His plan of taking two horses on his adventure, one to ride and one for supplies seemed to be a very good idea.
At the Peterhof ferry port he purchased a ticket all the way to the port at Zolenocorsk on the north shore of the Gulf of Finland. When he got there he purchased a bus ticket to the area of the summer dacha. The trip was uneventful but he was still excited about his adventure, it had finally started.
When he arrived late in the afternoon, Vladimir and Marina greeted him. They were excited to see him and very proud that he had finished his schooling with high distinction. Marina made a very big dinner and they sat down and ate while Sergei told them of his upcoming trip to the lake region to hunt bear. Vladimir was interested in seeing Sergei's rifle. He was an avid hunter and firearms always intrigued him.
The following morning he and Vladimir packed the supply horse with the items he would need for camping and staying in the wilds of the lake region for a month. Even though it was still August it would be quite cold at night as they were north of the 60th parallel of latitude. The tent and gear were made for the region and would keep Sergei quite warm at night. When they were finished, Sergei went over his checklist to ensure he had everything he needed. They said their good-byes and he was off on a track to the northeast to the lake region. Sergei figured it would take him about three days to get to the area that he wanted to hunt bear.
That night he did not unpack the tent as it was still very good weather and he did not want to spend the extra time in taking it down in the morning. He built a good fire and made some long lasting coals to keep him warm throughout the night. The following morning he ate and fed the horses. He then packed his gear and continued his journey.
The scenery on the trip to the lake region was still as beautiful as Sergei had remembered it from past trips. This time, however, he would be going farther into the region, as he would be mainly hunting and fishing. He did have some fishing gear with him to supplement his diet when he wanted a variety.
At about noon on the third day he came to the spot that he had picked for his base camp. It was on a high plateau that backed up to a weather-sheltering wall to the northwest. He set up his camp pitching his tent and made a roped in area for his horses to be able to roam a little but not wander off. He gathered some rocks and built a fire pit for cooking and warmth. He then went out with an ax and gathered an ample amount of firewood. To his luck he also found a spring coming out of the rock abutment that would supply him with water.
Later that afternoon he settled back and rested. The view was out to the southwest, south, and around to the east. He could see for about 50 kilometers from this vantage point. In his gear he had a pair of 8-power binoculars and a 24-power spotting scope. He set up the spotting scope and scanned the lower area to see and get a layout of the land. The area was pristine, no sign of another living soul. He saw a place at an estimated distance of about 12 kilometers to the east that looked like a promising spot for hunting. There was a ravine with a small river running through it. If there were any bear in the area, this would be an ideal spot for them to obtain food and shelter.
The next morning Sergei packed enough supplies to last him the day and started for the place he had seen the previous afternoon. He arrived later that morning, as the going was fairly easy. He searched the area for signs of bear or other large animals. There were no signs of large animals but he saw ample fish in the river and many large heavy birds in the area. He decided that he would like some fish for that evening's meal so he unpacked his fishing gear and set about to the river. It was only minutes before he had a strike. He lost the first one but he hooked and landed the second fish. It was a trout of about 45 centimeters and weighed about two kilos. This would be more than enough for that evening. He kept fishing and when he caught one he would release it as he already had one for eating.
When it came on to mid-afternoon, Sergei decided to pack up and head back to his base camp. He arrived in the early evening and set about to cook his dinner. While it was cooking, he fed and watered the horses and readied himself for the night. That evening he ate the trout along with some of the other goods he had brought along. He was rested and satisfied with his accomplishments for the day, even though he had not seen any bears. He sat up for a while in the dark and used the spotting scope to look at Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn for a while. It was extraordinary that all three were visible. After it started cooling off, he checked his horses one last time and then went into his tent and bedded down for the night. During the night he heard a wolf howling and he thought to himself how lucky he was to experience this serene and peaceful place.
After Sergei woke in the morning, he set about to have a snack and water and fed his horses. He decided to go on an exploratory hike that day searching out areas that would produce the best possible areas for bear hunting. He went a little farther south than the previous day and followed the river downstream. In the river he saw signs of beaver and muskrats. Along the shore he saw small deer and large birds. He decided that for that evening's meal he would have a bird. However he did not want to shoot it with his rifle, as there would be nothing left after he shot it. So he took out his 5.5-millimeter pistol and got close to one of the large birds and shot it. He field dressed it and put it on his packhorse. Later that afternoon he headed back to his base camp and prepared for the evening and night. He fed and watered the horses and cleaned the bird he had shot. He roasted it over his fire pit and along with other goods; he had a very good meal. Again later that evening he used the spotting scope to view the planets and other stars. The sky was completely clear of clouds and made viewing extremely good. It started to cool off so he decided to bed down for the night. That evening the wolf decided to howl again.
Thus, Sergei's vacation went, a lot of good scenery, good fishing, and bird hunting, but he saw no bears. During the evenings he would star watch and listen to the wolf howl. At times he could also hear what sounded like younger wolves practicing their own howling. He surmised that mother wolf was teaching her youngsters how to howl. Every once in a while he could also hear owls hooting. He thought about how uncomplicated the world around him seemed.
One night during his third week he heard the wolf howl but then he also heard another sound. It sounded like the roar of a bear. The sounds seemed to be a lot closer than on previous nights. He then heard what he believed to be a fight between the bear and the wolf. The wolf yipped, howled and cried out as if it were wounded. Sergei decided that the next day he would go in the direction of the sounds and see if he could find any evidence of the bear or wolf.
Sergei arose early and prepared to go in search of the night's sounds. As he neared an outcropping of rock, he heard what sounded like puppies yipping and whimpering. He got down from his horse and searched the area. He found blood trails and decided that this was where the fight between the bear and wolf took place. He followed the trail up the hillside for a while and heard the yipping again. He finally found a cave that had the entrance covered with brush and branches. He cleared enough away where he could see in and gain entrance. At the entrance to the cave was the female wolf. She had been attacked by the bear and fought it off but did not survive the attack herself. Further back in the cave, Sergei saw two little wolf pups cowering in a corner. They looked to be cold, afraid, hungry, and looking for their mother. Sergei approached them slowly and offered them a piece of bird meat he had brought with him. They seemed to be large enough to be able to eat solid food and when offered they took it very readily. Sergei left them with some bird meat and went to his horse and got some water and a pan. He then went back into the cave and gave the two wolf puppies some water. They both fell over themselves drinking. While they were doing this, Sergei took their mother out of the cave and put her in an area that the puppies would not see.
The two wolf puppies seem to be a few months old and about eight kilos in weight apiece. He tried to put them on the packhorse for the trip back to the base camp but neither the puppies nor the packhorse would have anything to do with this. Sergei thought this might cause a dilemma, he did not want to leave the puppies behind, and they would not ride on the horse or would the horse have them ride on its back. He took some rope and made leashes and tied them to the puppies. He then started back to his base camp. The puppies were determined not to be led, and fought the leashes for a while until they tired and finally gave up and followed with their leashes tied to the packhorse. They got back to the base camp later than usual and Sergei was lucky to have some additional roasted bird packed. He fed and watered the horses and then fed himself and the two wolf puppies. In the twilight along with the firelight the three of them played together, wrestling and carousing. This was good bonding for the puppies as they had lost their mother and soon would start to miss her. Sergei would be set up to take over and care for them providing food, entertainment, direction, training, and protection. Later that evening he put a heavy stake in the ground between his tent and the fire pit. He tied the puppies to the stake and then went into the tent and bedded down. After about a half hour both puppies were crying and Sergei decided not to let them do this as it might attract the bear or other large animals. He got up and brought the two puppies into the tent and then all three of them bedded down. The puppies stayed quiet till almost dawn when they had to get up and relieve themselves. Sergei figured at that time the puppies had found and accepted their new home and master.
Sergei stayed in camp that day and continued the bonding with the two puppies. He decided that he needed to give them names. While he was sitting and looking through the spotting scope for the bear he decided to call the male wolf pup Yuri and the female Irena. He spent the rest of the day playing with them and calling them by name. He started some initial training for them and they picked up on it very quickly. They had their evening meal and Sergei decided that the following day he would need to go out and get something for them all to eat as he was down to the bare essentials. He thought that by going fishing it would be easier to tend to Yuri and Irena and fish at the same time rather than try to hunt birds. Later that night he heard the bear and Yuri and Irena became alarmed and moved in very close to Sergei for comfort and protection. This made Sergei feel good, as he knew that they now trusted him unconditionally. He prepared his rifle just in case he would need it during the night.
The following morning he fed the horses, Yuri and Irena. Then they both perked up and sniffed the wind coming from the east. He took out his spotting scope and scanned the area and saw some movement in the trees about three kilometers away. Previously he had moved the heavy stake inside his tent. He took Yuri and Irena and tied them to the stake and bade them to be quiet.
Excerpted from Eye of the Wolf by Ray McComber. Copyright © 2013 Ray McComber. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing.
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