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Game Call Hunting in Tokachi in Pursuit of Yezo Deer



Game Call Hunting in Tokachi in Pursuit of Yezo Deer


I arrived in the Tokachi region of Hokkaido in autumn. Upon learning that Onodera would go on a game call hunt in Tokachi together with local hunters and Maya Endo, who is also a hunter and Onodera’s disciple, I decided to follow and take pictures. The deer that inhabit Hokkaido are Yezo deer, a different type from the ones that Onodera usually hunts on the Oshika Peninsula. Their appearance as well as size are entirely different. Their meat qualities must also be different. Above all, I was surprised and overwhelmed by the difference in the scale of the land in Hokkaido. Whether it’s on flat land or in a valley, I couldn’t move around with the sense of scale that I had acquired on the Oshika Peninsula. What this means is that we have to reset our sense of scale if we are to hunt prey.

I could capture up-close Onodera hunting deer for three days. Usually, Onodera would immediately hit a vital spot of the deer he was going after, but there were several occasions in Tokachi where he missed his prey at the very end. Observing him, even I, as an amateur, strongly felt the importance of getting used to the hunting ground.

  Whenever he missed the deer that could be sensed nearby, I found myself disappointed and feeling an unexpected emotional reaction. When the prey that I detect with my eye and ear manages to escape, I feel so frustrated that I’m not satisfied until it is caught. I wonder if this is how the psychology of animals function. It was very interesting to observe my own physical and psychological reactions during the course of the hunting activities.

After slowly entering a thicket of bamboo trees as tall as him, and taking up a position overlooking the sloping valley, Onodera blew a deer whistle. He imitated the sound of a stag call. After about fifteen minutes of holding his breath and waiting in the bush so as not to make a noise or stand out, Onodera held his gun for a moment. Although I had no idea of the deer’s whereabouts, a male deer was apparently approaching us very closely. The deer, however, noticed us before we did, instantly leaving the area with just a slight sound and a rustle of the bamboo leaves. We stuck around for a while, changing locations several times but couldn’t catch any deer.

The next day, Onodera blew a deer whistle a few times in the plains and in the mountains, but didn’t have any luck with encountering the big stag he was hunting. While it was also partly a question of the season, I thought that I must not forget that, even in Tokachi, it’s not Onodera’s style to catch as many deer as possible every day.





Photographer Yayoi Arimoto, who travels around the world capturing the varied beauty within the cultural background of food, clothing and shelter in different areas, and hunter Nozomu Onodera, who is engaged in curtailing harmful overpopulation of Japanese shika deer on the Oshika Peninsula as well as hunting, gathering, and public outreach regarding food sources, have collaborated on a project for the Reborn-Art Festival. Based at FERMENTO, which processes the deer and delivers the natural blessings of the Oshika Peninsula, the project documents Onodera’s way of life, which entails entering the hills, picking wild plants, pursuing wild animals, and living on the fruits of these activities.

Yayoi Arimoto
Born in 1970 in Tokyo. Published photo collections include Magical Transit Days (Artbeat Publishers), BEASTS OF MINE (Seigensha Art Publishing, Inc.), and The Man Who Carves Bears (Shogakukan).

Nozomu Onodera
Born in 1967, Kesennuma, Miyagi. Lives and works in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi. Member of the Miyagi Prefectural Hunting Club, Ishinomaki branch, and is active under the moniker Antler Crafts. Onodera has been involved with the Reborn-Art Festival since 2017 and manages FERMENTO.


Autumn Game Call Hunting and Chefs Who Transform Deer Meat


Now available online





Reborn-Art Festival 2021-22
— Altruism and Fluidity —

【 Period 】

ONLINE : Jan 6 (Wed) 2021 -
SUMMER : Aug 11 (Wed/holi) 2021 - Sep 26(Sun) 2021
SPRING : Aip 23(Sat)2022 - Jun 5(Sun)2022
※ There will be a maintenance day during the session.

【 Venue 】

ー Summer ー
Central Ishinomaki
Oshika peninsula(Momonoura、Oginohama、kozumihama、Ayukawa、and more...)

ー Spring ー

【 Organizers 】

Reborn-Art Festival Executive Committee,
ap bank

【 Grants 】

the Agency for Cultural Affairs Government of Japan in the fiscal 2021

【 Translation 】
hanare × Social Kitchen Translation

【 Web direction 】