ELP Hunters

Dear Parents, AKA. Officers – First – thank you for assisting your classroom with this adventure. The ELP experience is one you and your child will remember for a lifetime. This packet is to assist you to ready yourself and your group for the overnight experience to Colony Ross. The more prepared you are, and the more prepared the students are, the better the experience for all. Please read the packet carefully. The packet is in two sections: first section is for pre-site preparations and the second section is for the onsite visit. You will want to bring the on-site section with you as it has pertinent information you will need. Please remember that you are coming to a state park. Do NOT remove any objects that are lying on the ground: rocks, shells, glass, bones etc. If you find anything that appears to be historically or environmentally important please leave it where it is found and advise park Interpretive Specialist of the item's location. All features of the park are protected.

Remember: Take only pictures and leave only footprints. Also remember that many things that have been done in the past are not acceptable today.  Butchering of live animals on-site or bringing in weapons is not permitted.  All butchered meat must be dressed before you bring it to the fort. State Park rules and regulations must be observed. If you have any questions please call the Interpretive Specialist.

One of the two main purposes for the establishment of the Ross Colony by the Russian American Company was to conduct a fur trade. This meant hunting sea otter and other fur-bearing mammals that ultimately could be traded with China for goods desired in Russia. Trade was frequently conducted via third parties such as the British or American merchants.

Russian hunters (promyshlenniki) roamed over much of Northern California.  One Russian hunter is even recorded to have worked the Snake River of Idaho for the Hudson's Bay Company. The Promyshlenniki served as foremen when hunting sea otter, overseeing the activities of Native Alaskans brought to Ross from Alaska. As hunters, Promyshlenniki and Alaskans, it is your function to hunt, fish, and trade in order to gather furs, foods, and other goods.

Brief History and Walking Tour - Read this to your employees in your group in the classroom and bring this information with you for your onsite tour.

Regulations and Privileges of the Employees (historic) - Read this to your employees


1. Learn about sea otter and other animals hunted by the Russians and Native Alaskans. Where can you see otter today?

2. Bring bait

3. Learn safety rules in preparation for fishing at Fort Ross Cove. What fishing laws apply to your group?   

4. Bring a book with pictures or sketches of local animals like great blue heron, herring gull, gray fox, raccoon, bobcat and their paw prints and scat. You can use this for tracking in the area on hikes you might take.

5.  Make a group banner.

6. Make a 'Hunters hat' and/or a 'Russian Fur hat' using the pattern in the manual.

7. Read: Going Easy in the Intertidal: Exploration Without Devastation

8. Check out: Web tide info at this web site and Dart info at www.arctic.net/~dickson/sodart.html Kayak info at http://www.arctickayaks.com

9. Have back up plans in case the tide and/or weather conditions make it unsafe to go fishing.

Poke poles, line, hook and weights are provided. Please bring bait, such as squid.

Fishing license is required for the adults who would be poke pole fishing. Leave home your modern fishing gear.

Encourage students to bring a minimum of personal gear.


2. WARM SLEEPING BAG, PAD & GROUND CLOTH--You will sleep on wood floors in the fort buildings.

3. EATING UTENSILS: Cup, plate and/or bowl, knife, fork, spoon, and water bottle.

4. PERSONAL TOILET ARTICLES:  Don't forget sun screen, the sun can be very strong. Bring toothbrush and toothpaste.

5. ANY NECESSARY MEDICATIONS:  Include written instructions for the teacher; give medications and instructions to the teacher upon departure 

6. PENCIL:  For writing in journals and sketching.

7. HEADGEAR: Russian style scarf for girls and/or a warm hat for night watch. Sun hats are highly recommended for students and adults alike, especially for spring or fall dates.

8. CHANGE OF CLOTHES AND SHOES:  Children and parents should wear their costume to the fort. Bring a second set of clothes as well. Even if the weather looks warm, evenings are always quite cold on the coast. Students' feet and clothing often get wet during the day's activities therefore two pairs of shoes are essential. Black rain boots are highly recommended.


10. NAME TAGS: Create your own name tag with a Fort Ross design and character's name.

The names listed below are all male characters. It is OK for females to take on a male role and dress as such. It is also OK for a female to have a female name and be in the hunter's group in hunter clothing.  Note – traditionally Alaskan females would hunt if it was needed for the family.

Iakov Dorofeevich Dorofeev

A Russian - In 1802 he joined the RAC. In 1822 or 1823 he accompanied Karl Schmidt, the new manager of Fort Ross, and a party of Aleuts on a journey by baidaras up the Slavianka River (Russian River, and called Shabakai by the Pomo). In 1824 (with an agreement made in 1823 with Don Luis Arguello, the governor of California), Dorofeev led a hunting party along the shores of San Francisco Bay. Later in the1820's, Dorofeev returned to Alaska and became manager of the

Unalaska office in 1829. He held the post until September 1832, when he died.

Timofei Osipovich Tarakanov - A Russian- He was working for the company by 1802. Joseph O'Cain, the American Sea Captain, of the brig O'Cain suggested in 1803 to take a group of Aleut hunters to the California Coast with him. Tarakanov led the hunting group with 20 baidarkas. In the San Francisco Bay area they took 1,100 pelts and bought 700 pelts from the Spanish missions. They returned in 1804. In October of 1806, they left Kodiak with 12 baidarkas and a crew of Aleuts to hunt the California Coast, returning in 1807. On September 1808 he sent Tarakanov with a party of hunters back to the California Coast but this time to start looking for a hunting base to establish. The ship he sailed on was shipwrecked near the Washington Coast and several passengers were captured by the local Indians.  Several died in the months that followed, however, Tarakanov was able to talk to the Indians and encourage them to be freed with several others. They arrived back in Sitka on the brig Lydia, rescued by American Ship Captain Brown. A year later Tarakanov was again sent to California with a hunting party. They hunted the Farallones and Drake's Bay and stopped at the new Ross Colony. His life is unknown for the next several years. He sailed several times to the Sandwich Islands and continued leading hunting parties. 

Agchyaesikok Roman - A Kodiak - Possibly a hunter for the Company. He drowned in March 1821.  He was married to Kobbeya, a Southern Pomo. When he died Kobbeya returned to her home village. They had a son, Kiochan Mitrofan, who was left to be cared for by Alexey Chaniguchi for upbringing.

Matvei - A Kodiak - A Toion for the Company, meaning a hunting leader. He drowned in 1824. Kirill Khlebnikov reported, "Earlier this month, the Aleuts returned here with the body of the Aleut Toion Matvei. They said that he had been at Bodega Bay and had separated from the others in a two-hatch baidarka. After waiting for him to return for a long time, they had found him dead on the shore with the baidarka. As his body did not show any suspicious signs, the concluded that the Toion had grown weak from rowing and with hunger and had died. The Aleuts than buried him. Matvei was the elder Toion here..."

Talizhuk Kosma - A Kodiak - Worked at Ross between 1820 - 1836 possibly as a hunter. His first wife was a Kashaya woman, Yayumen. He and his second wife, Pelagiia, had two sons. Their names are Nikifor and Vasilii. He died between 1836 and 1838.

Taneikak Apianak Ivan - A Kodiak - His first wife is a Kashaya woman, PIzhichimiy. They had a daughter, Olga, and son Chunyuun. His second wife, Pelagiia Mukaia, had three sons Il'ia, Marko, and Simeon.  He died sometime between 1834 and 1838.

Osip Shaia - An Aleut - He lived at Ross for quite a long time. He was a leader or foreman of hunters.  His first wife is

possibly a Kashaya woman, Myssalaya.  His second wife, Alexandra, and son, Sazon, lived for years at Ross. It is possible that his first wife left with him to Alaska and returned with a Russified name, Alexandra. He was about 38 years old when he died from drowning.

Kasents - A Tlingit – His work at Colony Ross is unknown.

Native Alaskans

Tupuliahnak (Kodiak)

Kaskak (Kodiak)

Ungiyak (Kodiak)

Nehtkan (Kodiak)

Chananok (Kodiak)

Chevyihpak (Kodiak)

Kumuyak (Kodiak)

Kolyuzh (Tlingit)


An Old Inupiat Song 

I sing to the seas

I sing to my kayak

It is part of my body,

We fly upon the waves.

It is my companion, my brother,

It is my wife.

If I die on the sea, we die together.

If we go down together, we remain together.

If I die an old man it will rest upon my grave

And still we go on together

And still we remain together.


Make an Alaskan Sea Hunter Hat:

Wooden Headgear of Alaska Sea Hunters: Symbols of Power and Identity

Excerpts from Glory Remembered by Lydia T. Black.

In historic times wooden headgear in Alaska was very diverse. There were three different types of wooden headgear: closed-crown hats, open-crown hats, and visors. They were made of bentwood with long or cone visors or hollowed-out wood. Aleuts used a maximum of four colors: red, black, ochre-yellow (or brown), turquoise or blue-green to decorate their hats. Kodiak Islanders used red, white, green, and black. Experts agree that the headgear had symbolic function. It was used exclusively in association with sea mammal hunting and that sea mammal hunting was surrounded by elaborate symbolism and ritual among all the peoples of the North Pacific Rim. This holds especially for the hunting of animals valued symbolically: whales, walrus and sea otters. Clothing and items of personal adornment, such as beads, so prominent in bentwood headgear decoration, performed a double function. They served not only as items of utility and decoration, but also as talismans, protection charms and amulets.

Kodiak Island headgear was worn by men, women and children during ritual festivities, ceremonies, social occasions, and by men while at sea, traveling, hunting, and in battle. They traded them at inter-tribal fairs.

 Wooden headgear was made to resemble the heads of the various animals and they were worn in the chase of the different animals which they represent. The use of short visors for hunting sea otters on Kodiak is well documented. They were decorated with a parallel band design.

Bentwood closed-crown hats with long visors were rare and perhaps used as war helmets or whaler's hats. Bird imagery on the hunting headgear may be symbolic of the Thunderbird theme. The Thunderbird is a giant eagle, dwelling on high mountains and volcanoes, and with the sun. This mythological being had power to kill both on land and sea; both animals and humans.   Painted, stylized, abstract bird figures, as well as realistic carved ivory bird images, are common.

It is generally agreed that the volutes (side plates) of the hunting headgear, connote birds, bird's heads, eyes, and beaks in a stylized abstract way.

Symbols such as spirals, rosettes, and parallel band motifs appear as characteristic features of headgear design.

Gyotaku, pronounced "Gee –Oh –Tah-Koo is the ancient Japanese folk art of painting fish. The first Gyotaku were created to preserve the true record and size of species caught by Japanese anglers as far back as 1862.



Non-toxic non-permanent ink


A gyotaku print is said to be created by "using templates from the hand of God." Quite simply pigments are used to transfer images of natural objects. These relief prints or rubbings can be hand colored to produce a unique and beautiful art form. Nature printing is simply using pigments to transfer images of natural objects. (e.g. fish, shells, plants etc.) These are basically relief prints from nature.

Please use a non-toxic, non-permanent ink so that you can give your fish a bath and still eat him for dinner!

Native Alaskan Carving


Bar of Soap (fragrance free)

Clay carving tools, inexpensive wooden and plastic tools

Pictures of Native Alaskan Whale Bone or Walrus Ivory Carvings

Pictures of Native Alaskan Wildlife: National Geographic is a great resource

Two books on soap carving are:

"Soap Carving" by Suzuki. A book for beginners/children

"Carving in Soap" by Suzuki. For advanced carvers, step by step photos of the process of carving eight different animals

Throwing Board and Dart Making


Hunter Target Practice


Hula Hoops

Physical Education poles or

PVC Pipe with foam on each end.


Adult rolls or throws into the air a hula hoop.

Hunters throw poles (spears) through the hoop.

Students learn how hard it is to hit a moving object.

Game idea courtesy of Bill Singer at Santa Rosa Charter School.

This is a variation of a Miwok Indian game.

One Miwok would roll a wooden hoop along the ground, while another would throw a wooden pole through it.


By the time the long and winding car ride is over (you may want to supply each car with a few plastic bags in case of car sickness emergencies), the students are truly excited. It is a VERY good idea to burn off a bit of that energy before they arrive at the fort itself.

The walk from the Reef Campground to the fort is a wonderful experience. It is a short walk (only about a mile, 15-30 minutes), safe away from the edge of the cliffs, beautiful and a great way to begin the students' historical experience.  It is a wonderful visual experience to see the fort looming ever larger on the coastline as you get closer and closer.

The campground is about ten miles north of Jenner. It is a good idea to plan for a snack when you arrive. When everybody has arrived, all cars will drive to the fort to quickly unload the gear, leaving behind the teacher, children and enough adults to make the walk safely. Note: The campground is closed December 1 through March 31. Please walk around the gate. There is a pay phone at the campground entrance.  You must monitor the students at all times, to avoid misuse of this phone.


Walk downhill through the campground until you get to the parking area/turn-around at the bottom of the road. Look up the hill to the North for the trail to Fort Ross. The trail is marked. Follow the trail to the Sandy Cove; descend to the sand, cross the creek, and up to the fort. Don't rush on the hike. Encourage them to ask questions. Look at the local flora and fauna on the marine terrace and out to the sea for ships or whales. Taking your time to enjoy and learn gives the drivers more time to unload. If the cars are still unloading in front of the fort, then slow your walk or spend some time at the cove.

WARNING:  On very rainy days or on days just after heavy rains, the creek may be impassable. If it has been raining, please call us at the fort a day or so before your program date to ask if it is possible to safely cross the creek.


Drive from the campground a few miles north to the fort entrance. Go past the entrance kiosk (get a parking pass from the kiosk or the Interpretive Specialist at the fort) and drive to the dirt road at the end of the parking lot. Follow this road to the fort itself. The speed limit on this road is 10 mph. Please drive slowly.


It works best to take personal gear out of the cars and put it just inside the fort wall or if the ground is very damp to pile it up on the benches or the picnic tables inside the fort. If it is raining, all the personal gear will go in a storage room located in the Rotchev House for the day. Do not put gear into the buildings in which the children will be sleeping. Personal gear will be moved into sleeping quarters after the fort is closed to the public at 4:30. Food and kitchen gear can be carried to the kitchen area by the fire pits in front of the Officials' Quarters. The Interpretive Specialist should be there to help direct traffic. You will need to unload very quickly to insure that that cars are moved and drivers are back at the fort before the children arrive from their walk.  As soon as you are unloaded, drive your car back to the Visitor Center Parking lot. Cars must remain in the parking lot during your visit! The next morning when you are ready to leave Colony Ross, you may bring cars to the front gate of the fort only long enough to load supplies.

For groups who cannot walk from the campground (light rain, heavy mist, creek too high) we request that you let the children off at the end of the parking area with supervision. It is best not to stop at the Visitor Center when you arrive in the morning because it can detract from the historical experience of the fort. Parents drive the cars down to the fort, unload gear, and then drive back to the parking area.  When everyone has reunited, walk to the fort compound together to be greeted by the Interpretive Specialist.  If it is raining hard please drive directly to the Fort and unload gear.

Officers: 1.) ________________________ 2.) _________________________


Fort Ross Hunters:

1.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

2.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

3.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

4.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

5.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________

6.  ______________________________           AKA ______________________


  1. Officers gather fishing gear from the ELP closet.  Get bait from cooler. Check to be sure you have everything you need for your fishing expedition. Your list should include water and sunscreen. Confirm which cove you will be in.

  2. Walk together to the ocean. Fish off rocks.  Adults must have fishing licenses if they plan on fishing. DO NOT GO IN THE WATER! Go on a sea otter watch along the bluffs and beaches along the Colony shores.

  3. Back at the fort, return hunting equipment to ELP room when finished. Remove hooks.  Make a map showing the places where you hunted, fished and gathered.

  4. Take a hike along Fort Ross Creek and keep a record of any animals and birds that you see that may have been hunted by the California and Alaska Natives. Record plants that may have been collected for food or other purposes.

  5. Make a fish print with craft paper and tempera paints.

  6. Prepare a group skit, song or presentation for the evening that will communicate what your group did and experienced.

  7. After 4:30, move personal sleeping gear into Northwest Blockhouse.

  8. Know when to stand your watch and morning clean up chores.

Rules and Responsibilities:

  1. Follow the Officers' instructions at all times.

  2. Obey all safety rules.

  3. Review  "Going Easy in the Intertidal: Exploration Without Devastation"

  4. Don't litter.

  5. Please clean out the Hunters' Box. Do not leave trash: empty hook bags etc.

Night watch: 1:00 to 3:00. Wake up Gardeners in Kuskov House.

Morning Responsibilities: Pack personal gear. Parents sweep Northwest blockhouse. Check for wax and litter. Clean up kitchen area: wash pots and pans (make sure to clean the outsides too), wash down tables.  Make sure all kitchen gear (including washtubs and compost bucket) is washed, dried and put away.  The artisans will help put gear away.  If your group is finished and another group is not, ask:  "What can I do to help?"

Stockade Litter Pick Up – All groups line up shoulder to shoulder and walk the inside of the fort for a full stockade cleanup.

Morning Hike: Orchard, Beach, or Cemetery hike.

Warning: The ocean is VERY dangerous, even in a seemingly quiet cove.  NEVER turn your back on the ocean. BE VERY CAREFUL!!


Hunters will use poke poles to catch fish to learn how much skill, time and patience was involved in bringing dinner home. Poke poles means 'a pole that is put in the water with a hook and placed near the rocks. It does not mean you poke the fish to catch them.

Materials We Provide:

Poke poles, conventional hooks, lines and sinkers (a rock will work as a sinker), weights You Bring:

Bait, such as squid.


Hike to the North Cove down on the rocks. Pass out poke poles to each student who will be fishing. Carefully bait hooks. Poke baited hooks into cracks in the rocks near to the shoreline. Even the best of fishermen know about disappointment, so don't quit before half an hour is up. Please leave starfish, small crabs, etc. in peace.


Students will take a hike through the woods mapping their route and identifying native trees and plants as they go. This will give the students a taste of the thrill that early Russian explorers had in unknown territories, and an idea of the numbers and types of plant species that were identified by early Russian visitors.


Group leader should have a plant and tree identification book. Students should each have clipboard, notebook and pencils.


From the entrance of Fort Ross State Historic Park walk across Highway 1 to Fort Ross Road. Continue uphill past the Russian Orchard. On your left, the north side of the road,  through the metal gate and out the dirt road. Identify the animals, insects and plants you may see.  Along the way, have each child make leaf and bark rubbings as well as drawings of the plant and wildlife around them.

Remember: all plants and wildlife are protected in the State Park. Be respectful.

Night watch is a unique part of the ELP and it is mandatory.  It becomes a time of reflection. Surrounded by the coastal night and sounds, students can imagine what it must have been like at the fort in the "old days".  An on-site night watch log is available to record any thoughts the students may have while on the night watch. Your students may also bring their own journal to write in at night watch.  Parents must sleep in the same area as their assigned group so they can get the group to watch duty quickly and quietly.


Each group will have three tin candle lanterns.

Each employee will be accompanied by an officer at all night time activities.

Lanterns should be out when the group sleeps.

No lanterns burning without adult supervision inside buildings.

Night Watch Duties:

·        Keep close eye on glass candle lanterns.

·        Keep the fire going- a small fire is all that is necessary.

·        Each employee will have two Russian tea cakes and one cup of cocoa. Keep the teapot filled with water.

·        Write in night watch log.

·        Take a night hike; star gazing (weather permitting).

·        Walk the perimeter of the fort as a group.

·        Quietly play checkers, staves or cards to pass the time.

·        Clean up your mess when your watch is over.

·        Wake the next group as quietly and quickly as possible.

·        Notify the teacher in case of any kind of problem.

Night Watch Reminders:


·        Each employee will be accompanied by an officer at all night time activities.

·        Block the privy doors with a piece of wood to prevent them from slamming.

·        Students are not to play with candles or candle wax.

·        At no time should students wander off alone.

·        The First Aid Kit will be kept at the kitchen area.  Emergency phone is in Interpretive Specialist's office.

Night Watch Schedule and Sleeping Arrangements:

Night Watch is important for the safety of the fort and the group. The following schedule is for an all-Night Watch.  The sleeping arrangements described work well for waking one watch group while not disturbing others. Militia serves the fifth night watch to start fires for cooks.

First watch:                           9:00 -  11:00         Cooks              sleep in the Kuskov House

Second watch:                      11:00 -   1:00         Artisans:          sleep in front of Rotchev House

Third watch:                              1:00 -   3:00              Hunters:         sleep in Northwest Blockhouse

Fourth watch:                        3:00 -   5:00          Gardeners:      sleep in the back of Kuskov House

Fifth watch                            5:00 -   7:00          Militia:              sleep in Southeast Blockhouse

Wake-up for breakfast              7:00 -                   Cooks:             

Morning Clean Up


Personal gear removed, floors swept, candle wax scraped off, mud/dirt swept out, litter picked up 

Heating Water

Use large spider pot for heating water. Do NOT put tin washtubs on the fire to heat water.

Washing dishes

Hunters wash dishes after breakfast. For washing dishes, we provide three large washtubs:  one for soapy water, one for sterilizing bleach rinse, and one for a clear water rinse.  You will need to bring bleach and soap.  The first washtub should contain hot water and dish soap.  The sterilizing solution should contain warm water with 1 tablespoon of 5% chlorine bleach to each 2 gallons of water.  The utensils should be soaked for 30 seconds or more, and then rinsed in the third tub of hot, clear water.  Please dry all the utensils before putting into boxes or sending them to the ELP closet. Use ash to get the soot off the pots and pans. It really works!

Caring for Cast Iron

There are many fine cast iron pots available for your use.  They are wonderful to cook with and are very authentic, but need a little care.  After cooking in one of the pots, it should be wiped clean, using mild soap, never a strong detergent.  Do not scour; scouring will remove the natural seasoning of the pot and cause rust and possibly metallic taste.  If at any time it is necessary to scour or scrape, be sure you do it as little as possible.  Wipe a little oil around inside of the pot and lid to season.  DO NOT SEND WET POTS BACK TO THE ELP CLOSET!

Putting Things Away

All of the items that we provide for the program must be put back into the ELP storage closet by the group. 

Broken Items

Please let the park Interpretive Specialist know if anything is broken so we may be able to replace it before the next ELP group arrives