Hunting Ibex in Kyrgyzstan
Many of you have seen the bargain hunts posted for Kyrgyzstan. I showed the pics to my son,Chris. He is 28 and had never hunted outside of Wyoming here in the USA. He said , Dad lets do this hunt.... So I contacted Ibexhunter for references. I was sent to a fellow in Idaho Falls Id who happens to live 3 miles from my parents. He encouraged me to go and to book directly with the outfitter. He had a bad experience with his booking agent. We ended up doing that.
We had about a month to prepare for a winter hunt. Several had asked me to report back on the hunt. Kyrgyzstan was a part of the Soviet Union and is similar today. Somewhat corrupt and hard to get things done. We flew into Bishkek the capital and were met by our interpreter. We paid the extra for the VIP room and service. Very helpful for customs etc. Left for Karacol by van at about 6:30 AM. Arrived there for lunch and were informed that plans had been changed a little... Instead of going directly to base camp we were overnighting in Karacol. This was necessary because the road crew had failed to open up the pass that we had to go through. It is over 12,000 feet. The next day they picked us up at the hotel in a OLD jeep... It didn't want to start for the driver/guide... In fact he ran the battery down. Rather weak battery. So he then pulls out a metal rod and starts the jeep by HAND cranking it! Never seen that done before. We had to start it that way 4 out of 5 times... When we got about 1 hour out of town we were stopped at a police roadblock. The police told us we had to wait. A government official was coming over the pass. .. 5 hours later we started over the pass. Was a little exciting.. One lane with a steep drop on the one side. No guard rails and almost no place to get around other trucks.. There were at least 2 avalanches across the road. Once to the other side we followed a river. At one point the road was totally blocked by a rockslide, so we drove around it. Then we had to go through a military base. The hunting area was only 40 miles from the Chinese border. Finally got to camp well after dark.
The next day was spent checking the zero of the rifles and acclimating. Camp is at about 8200 feet. They also rounded up some horses. We took a drive that afternoon up the canyon to look for Ibex. We saw 4 or 5 herds with one having over 20 head in it. The next day we finally started our hunt! Got up at 3AM. Left camp at 4 and got to the spike camp 8 miles away at 5. I put on a snow suit and got on a horse to head up the mountain. Chris went w/ 2 guides in the jeep to start on foot. We rode about 45 min. in the snow up the mountain. When we got off they just left the horses untied. They were still there when we got back. We then hiked for 45 min to the brow of a ridge. It was just breaking light. Looking through my Bino's I saw 2 Ibex cross a snow patch ahead of us. Couldn't tell anything about them and couldn't see them where the snow had blown off. Both guides only spoke Russian. I only speak English... I tapped the guide on the shoulder and held up 2 fingers and pointed to the Ibex. As my guides talked I lasered them at 640 yards. We then went downhill... When you have gained the elevation and are at over 10,000 feet you don't want to go down... We dropped into a steep gully below the Ibex abed out of sight. We hiked through 3 gullies to get in range. Took 1 1/2 hours to get close enough. As we crawled over the brow of the ridge to look we could see close to 50 Ibex. My laser said 408 yards. I was breathing rather hard and fogged up the binoc,s trying to get a good look. Cleaned them 2 times. My guide held up 2 fingers and motioned from right to left. The 2nd Ibex in was a male.... so I shot him. First shot was a little high and right in the center of the body. He took off up the mountain. Missed the 2nd shot, as i just hurried it too much. He stopped for the 3rd shot which was perfect. Just behind the shoulder on one side and into the shoulder on the other. He dropped like a rock. Then he did 2 complete somersaults and then slid for 150 more feet. Was just a little steep! Beautiful animals. Dark brown line down the center of the back. Then tan like our elk that blends into a dark chocolate brown on the sides and chest. We took pics and caped him.Then they cut off one front shoulder and buried the rest in the rocks to get later. We were back to spike camp by noon. After lunch my guides took me by horse back to the main camp. 2 hour ride back.
Chris didn't show up that day and not until midnight the next. The first day the guides had worked him to death. Up the mountain to over 12000 feet. He had missed a couple of very long range shots at Ibex. The guides only brought him one bottle of coke to drink. When he got to spike camp that night he was exhausted and dehydrated. Took him almost an hour to drink and hydrate before he could eat. The next day he got his billy at about 450 yards. Was a really great trophy. 48 inches [122 cm]. He was thrilled his trophy.
I had mixed feelings about mine. It was under 38 inches. I had really wanted to be over 42 inches... I later learned that the guides wanted me to shoot the 2nd MALE in from the right..... Would I have shot that animal on the last day. You bet I would. He was mature and very pretty. The one they wanted me to shoot was a little bigger, but still not the calibre that I had dreamed of. They broke camp the next day to go back to Karacol. We got back to the pass only to be stopped at the summit. A truck coming from the other direction had gone off the road... after a 3 hour delay we were able to continue into Karacol. If you are considering this hunt there are a few things to consider. It is high and extremely rugged terrain. Long shots are the norm. They claimed the average shot is at 300 yards. Don't be surprised if they want you to shoot at closer to 500. The company I went with has had a 100% success rate since 96 when the current owner bought it. 90% of their hunters kill their animal in 2 days or less so don' shoot the first one you see. This company only kills 14-15 ibex a year so they have some very good animals. I have a CD from them showing a hunter kill a 130cm Ibex. They also have Marco polo sheep. They have only killed 2 in the last 4 years. Only 2 hunters so 100%. This year they hope to have 4-6 Marco Polo permits.
We stayed a couple of days in Karacol and did the tourist stuff. Unfortunately my camera was stolen by a pickpocket in the bazaar in Karacol. With a little help I may be able to post a couple of pics of my son's Ibex. If your interested in going and want company I have a friend thats dying to go this fall. Contact me and I'll pass on his info. If your interested in this company then please contact me and I'll give you the contact info. I also have a few tips that may help you in your hunt. There are some things that will make your trip easier. Bruce