Since ancient times, hunting and fishing have been the main source of survival and existence for the indigenous population of Yakutia.
In the nature of things, luck does not always accompany the hunter. Therefore, with the help of a spell, a sacrifice, the hunters asked for good luck, trying to placate the host spirit of the forest, on which luck seemed to depend. The Siberian Turks preserved all-Siberian rituals associated with magical and animistic views, with a belief in the revival of dead animals, etc. According to spiritual practices rituals in honor of the places and hunting spirits were fundamental to all studied nations. Among the Yakuts, the cult of the common ethnic spirit, the patron saint of hunting, Baai Bayanai, which their ancient Turkic ancestors worshiped, received particular development.
Fishing and hunting played a big role in the life of the Yakut people. For the Yakuts, herders, these sectors of the economy were huge helps, and for the poor who did not have livestock, fishing was the main branch of the economy. Therefore, this cult - rituals and beliefs associated with hunting and fishing, was widespread.
The hunting rites and beliefs of the Yakuts can be divided into two groups: 1) rituals and beliefs, the observance of which is necessary for lucky hunting; 2) ceremonies aimed at luck if there is no prey for a long time.
The first group consists of a combination of rituals and beliefs belonging to the cult of the host spirit of hunting, Baai Baryllakh Baai Bayanai. Rites and prohibitions of a purely magical nature, associated with the veneration of the animals themselves or their souls. Beliefs about the need for magical observance of ritual "purity" are associated with this group of rites.
The Yakuts had a single cult of the master of the taiga, Baai Bayanai, the patron saint of the hunt, and not the host spirit of the forest. Baai Bayanai was considered the owner of all animals and birds and the patron saint of hunters who observe rites and taboos during hunting. The idea of it was not associated with any particular forest or taiga in the views of the Yakuts. According to the beliefs, the host spirits of the places were of secondary importance in hunting. The Yakuts believed that hunting luck depended on the favor of Baai Bayanai Baai Barylaakh.
The Vilyui Yakuts believed in the existence of host spirits that contributed to the reproduction of birds and animals. These spirits had a common name - bayanai or eseken. The success of the hunt depended on their will. Chief among them was Baai Barylaakh - the creator of large animals: bears, moose and others. However, it was believed that each type of animal had its own eseken. In addition to the eseken, they believed in the existence of Seerken Sesen, the owner of the dark forest, and the messengers of the eseken - the daughters of the flex-willow, birch and other forests.
The taiga host spirit loved silence and possessed a good ear. Therefore, the sacrifices were made in silence. In life, people did not try to talk about prey, so that he did not hear. When they were going to hunt, they observed that there was no child noise. The ancient image of the host spirit of the taiga was presented in the form of a young beautiful woman. All the animals were at her disposal. Usually, before going hunting, the hunter would cast a spell to the host spirit of the fire and the host spirits of the forest, throwing bits of fat into the fire. At the first night in the forest, having set up a fire, the hunter offered a sacrifice as a piece of butter or something else to the host spirit of the forest and addressed him with algys, in which he also asked to give large prey. The disrespectful attitude towards Baai Bayanai was considered one of the reasons for the unsuccessful hunt. The Yakuts treated to Bayanai and asked for large prey.
Success in hunting depended, in the opinion of the ancient hunters, on the observance of many prohibitions and the necessary rules in relation to prey. For example, it was believed that a hunter was to express joy in every way at the sight of a dead beast, since Baai Bayanai liked such a behavior.
One of the hunting prohibitions was associated with the belief in the "uncleanness" of women. For example, a woman had no right to eat a heart, liver, upper lip with nostrils, and moose ears. She also should not have stepped on a wet skin and bones of a moose deer. A woman could be the cause of the loss of hunting luck, the desecration of guns and hunting, and hunter's clothing. It was believed that the "spoiled" ones brought bad luck. That's why they used to perform a ritual of purification with fire — fumigated with juniper smoke. The hunter was considered "not clean" if one of his close relatives recently died. It was useless to him to go hunting.
The hunters, of course, strongly believed in luck and observed superstition. Hunting received a religious coloring. Therefore, those beliefs were expressed in numerous rules, objects, prohibitions and ceremonies. The more Bayanai was pleased, the more luck accompanied the hunter. So, there was something to eat and what to wear. At the present stage, beliefs, superstitions, prohibitions associated with hunting, are preserved, maybe not in such a pure form, but they are respected. And many hunters believe that luck to some extent depends on the favor of the host spirit of the forest.