Putin, normally keen to show off his muscles, dressed warm Wednesday when he went whale-tracking off Russia's east coast, in Olga Bay in the Sea of Japan. He joined members of the Kronotsky Biosphere Reserve studying the endangered gray whale.
Photos showed him perched at the stern of a rubber boat and holding a crossbow, which he used to fire a special dart to get a whale's skin sample.
"There was a real feeling of exhilaration," he told reporters afterward. "I missed three times but hit on the fourth attempt."
When questioned about the risks of riding over the rough seas, the former KGB spy reportedly answered: "Living in general is dangerous."