of the Gulag
Anton Kaunas – The wolf-hunter
Anton Kaunas was born in Tarpučiai, Lithuania, on 4 March 1941. In 1949, at the age of 7, he was deported with his parents as being a kulak family. They were sent to a small village near Irkutsk. He and his brothers and sisters felt hungry as they went lifting frozen potatoes. To go to school they had to share one pair of shoes between two. When they got there, other children threw stones at them, sometimes calling them Fascists. His father worked as a joiner in the kolkhoz for a kilo of grain a month. But he died in 1951 and his mother could not work because she was ill. The children helped each other, his three brothers became tractor-drivers and he a lorry-driver. He began to go hunting, although at first it was illegal, his life improved. He remembers the first wolf he killed, before becoming one of the best wolf-hunters in the district. He said he loved the work, probably because of his hunger.
In 1961, he entered the army for three years, and served in Kazakhstan and then on the Virgin Lands Campaign until 1964.
When he was released, he did not want to go back, whereas his elder brother, sisters and mother went back, later, in about 1983. He often goes on holiday to Lithuania but his life is here in Siberia.
After hard years at the start, Anton Kaunas and his brothers got qualified jobs, him as a lorry-driver, and them as tractor-drivers, so they could afford to save the family from poverty.