Trophy and hunting knife collection of President Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas
From primeval times, hunting was one of the ways for people to obtain food. Hunting has started in Lithuania in the Paleolithic Age (in the 10th to the 1st or 2nd centuries BC). Two hunting types developed in the Middle Ages: in one case it was a source of income – a profession, in the other – a form of leisure, used to build partnerships and practice combat skills. It is known that the Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas the Great with his cousin King Jogaila of Poland were actively hunting before the Battle of Žalgiris – apparently, they discussed the future war strategy, and stockpiled for the military campaign. In 1577, the Wallach Law began to legally regulate the hunting in the Grnad Duchy of Lithuania. Restrictions were applied on peasants, they were prohibited from hunting larger animals (deer, elk, bison, etc.). In 1795, after the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian state, hunted animals became the property of the Russian Tsar.
Although hunting continued to be limited, the animal population was dwindling. For example, before the First World War, the remaining number of wisents dropped to about 600, and during the interwar period they eventually became extinct (1919 in Bialowieza Forest and in 1927 in Caucasus), and only in 1929 the recovery of the extinct population began.
Medininkai Castle exhibits the hunting knives and trophies of the Lithuanian President Algirdas Mykolas Brazauskas. More impressive ones are the horns of a wisent shot in 1991 in Panevezys Enterprise Pašiliai woods, antlers of a deer hunted in 1993 in Joniškis district, wild boar tusks from the hunting of 1980 in Panevezys district, awarded with gold medals. The exposition has a variety of hunting knives: one is made in the Soviet Kaunas, the other was created after regaining the independence. It has the engraving of Gediminas pillars (the coat of arms), the inscription Lithuania on the handle, and the third blade is dedicated for the “most accurate hunter”. There are knives with handles made from elk, deer horn, roebuck leg or produced in other parts of the world – in Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico etc.