KYRGYZTAN: Marco Polo Blues

Discussion in 'Hunting Reports Asia & Middle East' started by gillettehunter, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

    Sep 10, 2009
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    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan(2) South Africa(2) New Zealand
    I started thinking about the possibility of a Marco Polo [hereafter MP]
    hunt several years ago when my son and I went to Kyrgyzstan [hereafter
    Kyrg] several years ago for Ibex. We were both successful and the
    company we hunted with talked some about MP hunting. About 1 1/2 yrs ago
    I saw an ad from Theo Blignat for a MP hunt at a great price. I almost
    went in 2013, but the $$ were tight as well as not being familiar enough with
    Theo to send that kind of money out. Last fall the same hunt came up again
    and Theo sent me an E-mail about it. My wife was kind enough to pay for
    half of the hunt so I decided to go for it.
    The hunters in Feb 2013 each got a MP and 2 Ibex. So it seemed like a
    good bet to me. I couldn't find anyone to go with me so I decided to go it
    alone. It is a lot more fun when someone else is with you. So I booked the
    and my flights last Nov. For whatever reason the flight in and out of
    Gillette was going to add $800 to the airfare so I elected to drive to
    Denver. I left on Feb 15th.
    Travel is the bane of the international hunter. I left home at 4:30 AM.
    Some 38 hours later I arrived in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrg. I used
    the VIP service so I went to a lounge while someone else collected my
    baggage and got everything squared away with customs. There I met Rinat
    the general manager of Argali LLC who I was booked with. His English is
    pretty good and we talked for a while. Then we were notified my rifle
    had not arrived. Cuss words cuss words Darn it.....
    Went to the office and they told us to wait 2 hrs and go to the
    downtown office of Turkish Air, then we could find out where my rifle
    was and when it would arrive. There are only 2 flights a day from Istanbul to
    Bishkek. I was on the second which arrived at 7:30 AM or so. So off to
    secure a hotel room and then to TA to see when my firearm would arrive.
    Things are a little different on a third world airline. They couldn't
    tell me where my rifle was or when it would
    arrive....... I was not impressed. Spent the day doing some
    That night I filed complaints with Turkish Air, United [the flight
    started with a United flight] and the FAA. I guess Turkish air actually
    listened. They contacted me when I got back. I told them it cost me a
    day of hunting and that they owed me for a hotel night plus 10% of the
    daily fees. They actually agreed. I received a check yesterday for $800
    from TA. The flight total was only $1250.
    Rinat picked me up early the next day and we went back to the
    airport. No rifle with the first flight. Then the second flight came in
    and they said no rifle on that one either... While talking to the staff
    at TA the rifle appeared. Thanks goodness. We cleared customs and
    started the 12 hr drive to the hunting area.
    Good paved roads to Narn and then gravel and then dirt. Then into the
    mountains. Wikpedia claims there are 81 mountain ranges in Kyrg. So you
    are never out of sight of mountains.
    Rinat claimed
    he had been told a pass was open that would provide a shortcut. Open is
    a relative term. Rinat's 4 wheel drive SUV go stuck perhaps 15-20 times
    and required digging out 8-11 of those times. Rinat seemed to have a
    knack for letting off the gas when he should of maintained. He appeared
    to of never heard of tire chains. Finally got over the pass and then
    through the military checkpoint. On towards camp.
    P1030033-Highres.jpg P1030046-Highres.jpg
    Rinat told me that the hunting camp that we were going to had unusual
    access. We went up over a steep hill and down onto a frozen lake. We
    then drove 8 miles up the lake and then another 1 1/2 miles up the
    frozen river to the main camp I would be hunting out of.
    We arrived P1030202-Highres.jpg
    well after dark and unloaded. My bed was in the same room as the head
    guide. One stove to heat the place and also to do some of the cooking.
    Wood and coal is used for fuel. The stove was open to my room and to
    the "kitchen" where the cooking was done and a table for most of the
    staff to eat. Only the head guide and I ate in our room. In Kyrg
    expect to be separated from most of the help and to be served meals
    P1030066-Highres.JPG P1030137-Highres.jpg
    First day we got up and got ready to hunt. My rifle for this hunt was a
    7mm short action ultra mag on a custom action by Northwest precision
    with a lightweight stock. Knowing shots could be long I had a 3X24 March
    scope on it. The week before leaving I had gone to Montana to work with
    a friend on long range shooting. I call myself an advanced beginner in
    long range shooting. My rifle is capable of 1/2 min accuracy with 168 gr
    Bergers. Upon removing the rifle I immediately noticed that the bubble
    level was 20 degrees off. CRAP. For long range shooting a level is very
    useful, especially as I always cant a gun. So for me to be effective at
    longer ranges I need that to work .
    I spent the next hour working with the bubble level to try and get it
    right. Then we then checked the rifle in at 300 yards and then went hunting.
    The procedure throughout the hunt was for there to be 4 of us on
    horseback. We rode for 7 to 11 hours per day. The chief guide was
    Callis. The assistant guide was his younger brother Glik. The 3rd
    fellow was what in my mind I called the wrangler. He took care of the
    horses, food, spotting scope and me. Glik spoke pretty good English.
    Callis told me when we met if I spoke slow then he could understand me
    pretty well. The wrangler was Shakkar and he spoke no English. My horse
    was tied to Shakkar's saddle. Usually with about 4 feet of slack.
    As we got ready to leave camp the first problem happened. Glik asked to
    use my binoculars. Come to find out there was one pair of binos between
    the 3 of them. Really PISSED me off. Still one of the things that gets
    me fired up about this trip. I really wanted to use my binos, but knew
    that Glik would see far more game with my binos than without. According to
    Rinat they all have binos. They just didn't bring them. Perhaps thinking
    the clients will be better..... So he used mine for the next 9 days. Gave them back to me at night so I could
    clean them for the next day. We headed East the first day and made a
    big loop around to the North of the main camp. We saw 7 different herds
    of MP's, but no rams over 110 cm. About 100 sheep total.
    We did find a wolf kill. The vultures showed us a Ibex that the wolves
    had killed and partially eaten. We saw wolf tracks almost every day.
    Most were old. We also saw multiple sets of MP and Ibex horns each day
    that the guides said were wolf killed. Sometimes 10-12 sets a day. The
    wolves definitely get their share.
    P1030132-Highres.jpg P1030118-Highres.JPG
    I had been told that the average MP they killed was 120-135 cm. So I
    told them I wouldn't shoot one under 120 cm. That's about 47 inches.
    Biggest MP ram the first day was maybe 110 cm. They had scouted a
    winter herd of Ibex with 4 good billies in it. They had set the first
    day up so we would go by that herd on the way back. They spotted the
    herd and decided to do a drive. Glik and I were set up below a saddle
    that they expected the Ibex to go through. Shakkar went down to spook
    the herd to us. When I first saw the Ibex they were perhaps 1600 yds
    away. They didn't move near as far as expected when Shakkar spooked
    them. I suggested to Glik that we crawl back over the ridge and loop
    around and come back into sight above them at perhaps 400 yards. He
    replied that they would see us and that his brother would move the Ibex
    to us. Here is a pic of some Ibex nannies.
    The next thing I hear is boom, boom and boom. 3 rifle shots rang out.
    Callis was shooting to push the Ibex to us!!!! Double crap. I wanted
    to look the Ibex over and pick the best one out. Not shoot at running
    Ibex as they go by me. I already have one on the wall and wasn't
    planning to shoot another unless it was larger.. Crap! I had counted
    about 65 Ibex. They split into 3 groups. One group went about 300 yds below
    us. One group about 200 yds above us and one group close to our level. It
    either shoot fast or pass. So I picked out what looked like a mature
    billy above us and tried a running shot. He was then over the saddle
    and out of sight. The group near our level pulled up and started
    milling around. I picked out a billy and tried a shot at him. That of
    course provided the reason for them to head over the ridge. I swung on
    the billy and pulled the trigger. I shot a rock 30 feet in front of me.
    I was belly on the ground with a bipod and could see the billy, but the
    muzzle was low enough it caught a rock. As we stood up my guide
    pointed out a nanny that I had wounded. She apparently stepped in front
    of the billy just as I pulled the trigger the second time. I finished
    her off and was told we'd use her for camp meat. Then Callis told me I
    had hit a billy my first shot.
    The hill he went down was too steep to ride down. 1/2 mile plus down a
    steep talus slope. Some of the slopes are well over 30 degrees. Doesn't
    sound steep until you try to walk on them. This was steep enough that a
    rounded rock would go several hundred yards before stopping if thrown. A
    slip and fall could result in a ride a good ways down the hill. Blood
    trail all of the way
    down. That hill wore me out. We were about 13,500 feet. I'm 56 and my
    knees are not as good as they used to be. Last July I slipped and fell
    part way down some steps. As a result I have a small tear in my ACL and
    meniscus on my right knee. No surgery, just PT to build up the muscles.
    When I got to the bottom Callis said it was time to head for camp and
    we were taking a shortcut. He said we'd look for my billy tomorrow.
    Sounded good at the time.... The hill we went up was extremely steep.
    Too steep to go straight up. Switchback the horses up it. We wore our
    poor horses
    out. We looked into a couple of gullies that my Ibex could of been in,
    but saw nothing.
    Their horse are rather small. Don't say the word pony. They get
    offended quickly. They claimed that they only weigh about 700 lbs. Hmm.
    I weigh 200 lbs. Thats a lot of weight for a small horse to pack all
    day at those elevations. The main camp was at 11,500 and spike camp was
    at 11,800. We went over 14,000 feet several times. Most of our hunting
    was done at 12,500 to 13,800 feet. They told me that these horses were
    the decedents of those that Genghis Khan had used to conquer Asia.
    Tough animals.
    They didn't water them at camp as we would here in the
    states. When we found where a spring had created softer ice in the
    river beds then the horses would scrape out a shallow hole in the ice
    with their hooves and slurp the water that collected there. I think
    that happened 4-5 times in 9 days. They also ate the snow for water.
    Their horse shoes had cleats on them helped them to dig in on the ice.
    We usually trotted on the ice. They use the rivers like roads. No
    hidden holes for the horses to step into. Pic of me dressed to hunt.
    P1030085-Highres.jpg P1030097-Highres.jpg
    When we got to the top of the hill it was too steep to ride down so we
    walked again. It was getting dark and I was tired. Long first day. They
    had told me the first 2 days we would take it easy so I could acclimate
    to the elevation. Finally back on the horse and back to camp at 8 pm.
    Quick dinner and off to bed.
    Day 2 was similar to day one. Off to the East and looping around to the
    North. We went further East and up another valley. We saw 3 herds of MP
    today with mostly ewes. Went up a snow filled valley up to a STEEP
    saddle. Feet out of the stirrups steep. I could hear voices in my head
    telling me this was a good place to get killed. You wouldn't believe
    the places they take those horses. We did find another really good
    Ibex. They tried another drive. This time Callis stayed with me while Glik
    and Shakkar
    went around. Callis went to sleep while waiting.... Again
    they used a rifle to spook the Ibex. Never saw the billy. He went a
    different way. Back to camp early today. Got back around 4PM. While
    riding I had been thinking about my bubble level.
    At camp I pulled out a short piece of rope from my pack and hung up a
    rock about 60 yards away. I then aligned my rifle scope vertical
    cross-hair with the plum line and reset the bubble level. Windy enough
    that I had to increase rock size 3 times. The last one was close to 30
    lbs. Now I felt that the level was very close to where it should be.
    Glik told me to pack for spike camp. He said that it was heated and
    that we would be there 2-3 days. Pic of main camp from the mtns.
    We left a little earlier the next AM and headed West and then South.
    China was just 6 miles South of us. Close enough that the border patrol
    came through regularly checking things out. About every 7-10 days. Lot
    of area to patrol and very rough.
    In my journal I wrote that I had "seen the elephant" and lived to tell
    about it. We covered some extremely rough country today. We saw several
    herds of MP. Perhaps 35 total. Spooked 5 rams as we turned up a side
    draw. Largest one was perhaps 100 cm. We went right up to the Chinese
    border and my altimeter said 14,070 ft. We led the horses through the
    worst of it. I hung onto a stirrup or a tail to get through. One slip
    and you would go a several hundred feet before you would stop. We got
    above the sheep and worked down a ridge looking at each draw we came to.
    Nothing worth pursuing. I was beat by the time we got to spike camp.
    Spike camp was .....interesting. Thats a good word for it. Basically a
    felt tent over a wooden frame. About ready to blow over. Holes in the
    felt conveniently provided fresh air. It was about 10X16 feet and there
    were 5 of us in it. We had a cook in addition to the rest of us. There
    was a stove in the corner by the entry door. Very basic. A tub with
    legs, a smokestack and a door with slots. No Damper to help anything
    burn longer. The fire lasted about 1 1/2 hours and then it got cold. I
    FROZE that night in bed. Not a comfortable night at all. I was furthest
    from the door with 3 of them on the floor between me and the door. I
    was glad to get up in the AM. I nicknamed spike camp as "camp icebox"
    because it was so cold. When I later told Callis that Glik had told me
    it was a heated camp he laughed about it for the next 2 days.
    We headed South that AM and then West up a valley. About 1/2 mile up the
    valley we stopped because the guides spotted sheep. After waiting 3/4 hr
    we determined to go up a draw and circle around closer and see if we
    could get a shot. When we got to the top of the ridge another herd of
    sheep was spotted. New plan as this group had a bigger ram in it. We
    doubled back down the ridge and looped around toward the herd of rams.
    Unfortunately we got busted as we were climbing a saddle on the horses.
    When they took off so did we! Eventually we galloped almost 1/2 mile
    trying to catch up. When we did they were across a valley. As I jumped
    off my horse my guide told me they were 500 yards away. I got the bipod down
    and dropped to the ground. Dialed the scope for 500 yards as the sheep
    took off. I asked the guide which one. He said the first one. He was a
    monster ram. Then he
    said 600 yards. So I tried a running shot. I missed of course. Here is
    where it gets uncomfortable for me. I shouldn't of shot. I felt that
    guide expected me to shoot. I missed, but the result was that the basin
    emptied of sheep..... Over 60 sheep left the basin. The guide should of
    told me NOT to shoot instead of giving me a range.... I screwed up by
    trying a shot that I knew was a low percentage one. I guess it was both
    of our faults.. Never should have shot. If I had not shot then we would of
    had several other herds of sheep to look over. Instead they were gone
    never to be seen again.....
    That afternoon we crept up on a feeding herd that had a small ram in
    with some ewes and lambs. The guides thought we were stalking a group
    that had a good ram in it. Must of been 2 different herds and we found the
    ewes.Sheep pics
    P1030054-Highres.JPG P1030120-Highres.jpg
    Never did figure out where they went. Saw
    close to 130 sheep that day. Back to camp the cook showed us a fox
    that a pair of wolves had killed about 1/4 mile from camp.
    Food was very basic. I have never had a steak in Kyrg. They don't seem
    to know what it is. Lots of soups
    and stews. Lots of pasta and bread. Tea is served morning, noon and
    night. The Ibex was good. They chopped it all up and ate it in soups and
    At the main camp we usually had eggs and sausage for breakfast. At spike
    camp it was different. One morning they asked if soup was OK for
    breakfast. I said fine. It was their version of Raman noodles. Slightly
    bigger package with more spices in it, but Raman noodles none the less.
    No outhouse either. At the main camp there is a outhouse. No seat. Just
    a hole in the floor, but at least you are out of the wind. At spike camp
    it was just cold and you didn't dwaddle when mother nature called.
    Because of my first trip, I took my own TP. They do have TP. Its the John
    Wayne variety. Its rough and tough and doesn't take crap off of
    anybody! Baby wipes for hands or in place of TP is also a good idea. Just
    keep it in a inside pocket. When baby wipes freeze they don't do any
    better than the John Wane TP. Just believe me on this...
    Day 5 we went back South and then West. I think these guys get a kick
    out of scaring the crap out of me. More STEEP hills. Feet out of the
    stirrups again. They seem to think that's going to help you get off of a
    horse if he falls.... If it's so steep your feet are out its unlikely
    your going to stop going down the hill. Guess you might be able to keep
    the horse from rolling over you...... On day 3 I had watched the guides
    horse slip on the ice. All four feet out and the belly on the ice. The
    guide just kept in the saddle. Happened to me today so I stayed in the
    saddle and the horse just got back on its feet. Amazing how that works
    out at times. I can't tell you how many times a horse would fall to a
    knee up on the steep talus slopes. Your heart rate doubles in a split
    second and you get pucker marks on the saddle.........
    Some of the country we hunted. P1030101-Highres.jpg P1030159-Highres.jpg

    We saw about 35 ewes today and wound up back at camp at 1PM. What the
    heck????? Callis had a "headache" so he called it quits early. Glik
    and Shakar took me out for a couple hours to the North and West of
    spike camp. Wound up a mile or so from where I missed the ram the day
    before. That area had few sheep as we had run them out of there.
    Day 6 we woke up to wind. Lots of wind with strong gusts. Callis sent
    Glik and the cook back to the main camp for additional supplies as we
    were going to stay longer than originally expected. With the still air
    temp at around 15 the wind made it cold. Callis decided we would stay
    in camp and see if the wind went down. We'd get the fire going and then
    a gust of wind would hit. The temperature would drop 20 degrees in 20
    seconds. The tent frame would move 12 or more inches with each gust of
    wind. It moved so much that it popped the door latch 2 different times
    and the door blew open. The inside temp really dropped then. In fact
    they had to go out and do some bracing to keep it from blowing over.
    About 1 Pm Glik and the cook got back. Callis decided we should take a
    ride and see if we could find anything. We saw 2 small herds of ewes,
    perhaps 15 sheep total. We were out for only 3 hrs. I did not complain,
    but I was glad to get back. It was darn cold on a horse that day.
    Generally speaking the daytime temps got as warm as perhaps 20 degrees. At
    night perhaps down to 0. It was good and cold in the AM.
    Callis said the wind would bring the sheep down into the grass to feed.
    That proved prophetic....
    To stay warm it required staying dry. My feet perspire more than many
    peoples do. Each night I hung up socks and liners to let them dry. I'd
    sleep with a lighter pair on and then in the AM I'd switch to dry liners
    and a heavier pair. To sleep at night I took to wearing a balaclava and
    my thermals as well as socks. My sleeping bag was rated to -20. Which
    means comfortable to perhaps 0. I took to putting my coat on top of me
    when I went to bed. That helped a bit.
    Day 7 the wind left us during the night and we headed South once again.
    When riding Callis had the point then Glik with me and Shakar bringing
    up the rear. Callis's job is to see the sheep before they us. If the MP
    see you inside of 3/4 to 1 mile they are up and leaving the area. They blend
    in well as you can see from some of the photos. On this day we turned
    East up a valley and came over a small hill. About the time I cleared the
    hill we all spotted a pair of rams out in the grass. Golden opportunity
    and we muffed it. Callis was asleep at the switch. Daydreaming, because
    no ram should be so low..... 900 yards away and of course they saw us
    just after we saw them. The grass is brown and they stuck out so bad
    that I spotted them immediately. Big rams. Both 130 cm plus... They took
    off and we tried to follow. Never caught up to them that day. We went
    clear to the Chinese border. We looked for them for 4 hours. I was sick.
    I knew it was one of those opportunities I would wish we had again. It
    was to get worse.......
    We stopped for lunch overlooking the border. Each day we would stop for
    lunch, hopefully where the horses could graze some and we were out of
    the wind. They would spread out a coat to eat on. Lunch was always the
    same. We had bread, canned sardines, cheese, sausage and tea. Then I'd
    hand out some candy or gum for dessert. Usually
    had lunch around 1:30 to 2 PM. One day it was closer to 3PM. They
    didn't have a watch between them so they asked me the time. Lunch was
    filling, but got a little boring by the end.
    After lunch around 4PM we found a herd of 12 rams. Some bedded and some
    up feeding. They were near the head of a valley with the wind coming to
    us. We crawled to where we could see them well. Right at 700 yards....
    No reasonable way to get closer. On our side if you went up the ridge
    they wouldn't get closer and the wind would become a cross wind.. More
    wind drift. To get on the other side would require a ride of close to 2
    1/2 miles and then they would probably spook because we had to go where
    they could see us. Just not a good option. The week before I left I went
    up to Mt and did some shooting with a friend. My rifle was shooting 4
    inch groups at this range. Because of the elevation bullet drops were
    much different. As an example, I e-mailed Berger to see what speed my
    bullet needed to reliably expand. They said 1900 fps. At home at a
    elevation of 4600
    feet my bullet hits that speed at 900 yards. At 13000 plus feet it is
    1100 yards. A bullet shoots much flatter at elevations like that. I had
    2 devices to help with those calculations. The first is a G-7
    rangefinder with my ballistic data inputs in it. The second was my I-pod
    with the program Shooter loaded on it. I had to use my Kestrel to input
    the environmental data to the I-pod.
    At Mt I had been accurate to 1000 yards. I had a great rest and felt
    that I could make a good shot. I told the guides that it was 50-50. In
    my mind it was 80-20. I had the bipod rock solid with a rock under the
    butt of the rifle. It felt good. The best ram was likely 125-130 cm.
    Nice sheep. I carefully squeezed the trigger. At my shot sheep scattered
    everywhere, including my intended target. The guides said just barely
    high. I tried another shot at him and went over his back again. Then the
    valley was empty....... I still don't know what happened for sure. I was
    2 inches or less high at 700 yards.... Best guess is "lift" from the
    wind. Or a calculation error in the G-7's program. It is suppose to
    account for the elevation......Most likely one of those two things. Just
    3/4 of a min lower and he would of been mine.
    Bad luck seems to plague me with sheep. My first ever sheep hunt was in
    my home state of Wy. Took me until the 10th day of a 10 day hunt to get
    my ram. My bad luck continued this day. After missing this ram Callis
    headed to the top of the canyon where they had left. Probably to make
    sure there was no blood. Even though they were sure I had missed. We
    worked along the top of a ridge past several canyon heads and then they
    caught sight of 2 rams heading downhill to feed that night. Big rams.
    Maybe the 2 we had spooked in the grass that AM. We bailed off the
    horses and headed down the draw to catch up with these rams. After 3/8
    of a mile or so we started to catch up. Up ahead was a rock formation that
    was giving us some cover. As we approached it I glimpsed the rams close
    ahead of us. I was winded enough that I had to catch my breath before I
    could attempt a shot. I had warned my guide I wouldn't shoot while
    "sucking wind". While I'm catching my breath both guides stick their
    heads up to glass the rams. After 45 seconds I bring the rifle around
    the edge of the rock formation to get a rest and prepare to shoot. I
    just see the rams running around the edge of the hill..... The guides
    had spooked those 2 rams....Cuss words cuss words... I had noticed when
    I arrived that all of the guides wore bomber type of hats that are
    black. Those sheep saw those 2 hats and left the area. They were only
    300 yards away. My best opportunity lost because the guides couldn't
    keep their heads down until I caught my breath and I could shoot. I still
    get ticked off when I think about this. Best chance of the entire trip bar
    none and they
    screwed it up..... That wound up being my closest opportunity.
    Day 8 is one of my worst ever hunting days. Up early and back out
    looking for the 2 big rams that we saw the day before. At the first
    valley South of camp they spotted the rams probably over a mile away.
    We start after them trying to catch up and stay out of sight. After
    close to 3 miles we have closed the distance. Been off of the horses
    several times looking into draws and canyons. Finally we spot them.
    Glik ranges them at 500 yards. I made a fatal mental error. All I can
    say is mental fatigue. I was worn down by then. No other reasonable
    excuse... I had made up drop
    charts a couple of days earlier when the wind kept us in camp for
    quicker shots at medium ranges. I knew 500 yards was 8 min to dial on
    my scope. The G-7 gave me 9 min. So I dialed 9 even tho I knew I only
    needed 8. I then took a couple of seconds to find the sheep in my
    scope. In fact I had to reduce the magnification to 10 X and then back
    up to 24. The ram turned some and I pressed the trigger. My bullet just
    went over his back....... Totally my mistake. I knew the G-7 was wrong.
    I can make
    that shot 9 out of 10 times or more.
    Again just 2 inches high. 1 min lower would of been 5 inches lower and
    he would of been mine....... I tried a running shot but it was no use.
    He was gone never to be seen again. I still see him in my dreams.... Or
    are they nightmares? I take full responsibility for missing this time.
    Callis was pissed. He sent Glik back to camp to pack up and meet us
    back at the main camp. We made a big loop and covered some wild
    country. Saw a large herd of Ibex and MP mixed. I get the impression
    this is not common. Maybe 80-100 animals total. No MP rams worth
    trying for. The biggest billy was about 100 cm which is what my one at
    home is so I declined. We saw perhaps 35-40 MP this day in total. It
    was a long ride back to the main camp. The wind picked up at the end
    making the main camp very welcome indeed.
    Callis's and Glik's dad was in camp. He is a "famous" guide and has his
    name multiple times in the SCI book according to Rinat. That night he
    ate with me instead of Callis. He wanted me to shoot any MP ram we found
    the next and last day. I was to take the cape back with me. They had 2
    weeks more that the locals could hunt. He assured me they could kill a
    big ram, perhaps the one I missed, and then send me the horns
    later...... I told him I would think about it. In my mind I was not
    interested for several reasons. First of all MP are a CITES animal and
    this would be illegal. Second, if I didn't shoot the ram I would have no
    pleasure looking at him on my wall. Wouldn't even want him there.
    The next day the father was my chief guide, bad knees and all. His eyes
    are not what they used to be. We did find a herd with some smaller
    rams. The father asked me to shoot one. At that point I told him NO.
    Just not going to do it. I explained I had to shoot what was on the
    wall. I might also explain that Theo is from a RSA background so we
    had daily and trophy fees. I was not going to shoot a "dink" and pay a
    $9500 trophy fee. At that point I was resigned to not getting a MP.
    They were VERY unhappy with me. I guess the gist of it is that they
    have a limited number of permits. By my not shooting a MP it cost them
    $$. That was not my problem. I remembered all of the days we were back
    to camp early.....
    The father spooked several herds of MP that Callis might of seen. 2
    herds of rams went up over the same saddle and he decided that was where we
    were going..... After 8 days you would think I knew where they would
    take horses. I thought I did and this was NOT one of them. The saddle
    was so steep I would not of been able to walk across it without a
    walking stick. Loose talus slope with snow on parts of it. Feet out of
    the stirrups. I could hear those voices in my head telling me this was
    a good place to get killed. That was the worst ride of the whole trip.
    My life in fact. When my horse stumbled and went to a knee I about
    peed my pants. I will freely admit it scared me and I'm
    fearless.......... I was so glad to get to the top. No sheep. Plenty
    of wind like normal. We eventually found a couple of herds of ewes
    and lambs, but no rams. At the end of the day we arrived back at camp
    icebox. They sent a vehicle from the main camp to take us back. Saved
    arriving in the dark on horseback as well as 2 more hours on a horse.
    The terrain in the hunting area was very interesting. It was rock with
    a little grass in
    it. In 9 days of hunting I did not see a single tree of bush. None Nada
    They did not exist there. A tall patch of grass where it was lush was
    perhaps 10 inches tall. Most of the grass was 3-5 inches tall. Grass
    and rock and thats it. You can see why close shots are rare on MP or
    Glik insisted that I pack that night as we would leave early for Bishkek
    the next day. He said we would get up at 6 and leave by 7. It was 6:30
    getting up and almost 9:30 leaving camp. Things like that bug me. Give me
    a time and I'll be ready. They have a different concept
    of time there. Once in a vehicle I want to get to my destination. They
    take their time. Had to stop on the ice lake to look at the Ibex and
    smoke. I might note that they had been instructed not to smoke in a
    vehicle with me. Tough as many of them seem to smoke 2 packs a day. They
    then had to stop at the first 2 homesteads we came to leaving the
    hunting area. These people are way out in the boonies. They may only
    make it to town 2-4 times a year. The second one invited us to have tea
    and some meat. So we accepted. I was feeling rushed, but they were not.
    After all they were just going to Narn City. I still had 6 more hours
    after that so I wanted to get there and get back to a shower and to a decent bed. No bathing
    facilities in the camp I was at.
    Finally got handed off to a more modern vehicle and better roads.
    Eventually got to bed around 11PM. Up at 4:30 to head for the airport
    and that long ride home. My translator told me no need to pay for
    the VIP service. So I checked my rifle through myself. They made me
    separate out my ammo. Paid $2 to have it strapped and they added it
    as baggage at no extra charge.
    Customs in Kennedy was fine. Had to recheck the rifle. Had to go to
    another terminal and then get TSA as well as the local PD to check it
    out. Glad I had 4 hrs to clear everything. Got to Denver at 11:30PM
    local time. Drove home the next day.
    I had to wait a while to think about this hunt. I needed to get over
    some disappointment over guide mistakes and own up to my own. I missed
    a shot that I can make 9 out of 10 times. They spooked the rams at our
    closest opportunity. Guess it happens. I did see probably 5 different rams that would go over 50 inches.
    What would I do different if I went again? I thought about that on the
    way back. Probably take less clothes. Took 2 set of coveralls and didn't
    wear either. I'd spend the $ for a satellite phone to assure family I
    was fine. I think I'd go ahead with a Global Rescue plan. It was more
    dangerous than I thought. I'd bring extra bino's so I was sure I was
    using a set. Grrrr.... Look at possibly some heavier gloves. Get a
    pair of Kennetrek pac boots. A gym membership 3 months prior to build up
    my thighs/knees more. I did OK, but it could of been better. Lose
    5-10lbs more than what I did. Would of been just that much easier.
    Talked to my guide about stalks vs drives for Ibex...... Brought more
    Ibupropen and Alieve to hand out. Bring a extra box of .300 Win Mag
    shells in with my ammo to give away. Popular caliber and costs the
    equivalent of $100 per box for them. Better heavy socks would also make
    my list. I would also make sure and check my rifle at 700 yards to be sure
    the calculations from the G7 matched actual conditions upon arrival. I
    probably would
    even throw in a set of Wheeler's level level in case something gets
    knocked out of whack.....
    I hope to go back. Rinat was considering a discounted hunt for me. I
    have one friend that this is his dream hunt and wants to go next year.
    Another friend is also considering it. Anyone else want to go? If they get
    good snow then the hunting is much easier. Kyrg is a interesting place
    to go. I still want a MP. Bruce
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2016
    ActionBob likes this.

  2. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

    Jan 20, 2009
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    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    Thanks for the hunt report Bruce, I enjoyed it a lot! I'm sorry about all the missed opportunities, it's hard to move past them. The binocular issue would have drove me crazy!

  3. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

    Apr 13, 2013
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    NW DE, SE PA
    Member of:
    NRA Life Member, SCCFSA, Atglen SC, Bridgeville Rifle & Pistol, Original PA 1000 yd. BR clubs
    U.S (PA, DE, NJ, KS, TX., Panama, South Africa
    Great report! You're a tougher man than I though. Living at less than 100msl all my life, I'd be dying at those altitudes.

  4. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

    Jan 20, 2009
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    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    I think it was a great decision to pass on a small ram!
    And you are correct driving game with rifle shooting...."NO", why spook everything.

  5. arizona

    arizona AH Enthusiast

    Feb 7, 2012
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    Member of:
    SCI, NRA
    South Africia, Botswana, Alaska, Canada, Most Western US, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia
    Great report Bruce, thanks for all the information in the report, it's helpful to read this, I am going for Ibex this Oct, different outfit, but the what you would do different is very valuable

  6. PaulT

    PaulT AH Fanatic

    Apr 10, 2010
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    Aus. N.Z & Zim.
    Bruce, commiserations on missing out on your MP, certainly not from a lack of trying !

    Them's the breaks during "real" hunts, not construed, nor fabricated where the odds are stacked in your favour.

    Would you have it any other way ?

    Certainly, as in success, in defeat, all parties share responsibility.

    I think it should be noted that you have been very candid in your report, accepting as much as you should.

    If I were you I would be getting straight back on that horse and going back to get your dream Trophy.

    Much appreciated your honesty and very entertaining report on what essentially is an extremely remote area.





    Aug 5, 2010
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    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico
    Great report Bruce.
    That puts a lot in perspective....

    Cultural excursion with all the frills.

    Next time...

  8. bluey

    bluey AH Legend

    May 21, 2012
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    australia,the next oppressed nation
    Member of:
    ssaa, aba ,bairnsdale field archers SFP
    australia south africa (limpopo, north west,eastcape) canada (b.c)zambia
    good write up up , bruce
    sounds like a hunt I need to do ,its in the 5 year plan .
    love to finish where you point out things to redo and change next time ,mate
    the elevation sounds like biggest hurdle ,specially when im at sea level .........
    harsh country mate ,
    I rekon your fearless too bloke
    thanks for sharing the harsh realities of mp hunting with us ...
    them guides smoking 2 packs of fagggs a day wouldn't have made for a good place to be in , for me either , for whats its worth .

  9. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

    Sep 10, 2009
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    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan(2) South Africa(2) New Zealand
    Thanks for the feedback guys. Just to be clear my 2 guides did not smoke. Their dad and many others did. It was made clear by Theo that smoking was not allowed in the house/tent or vehicles. That helped a lot. Thanks Paul about the candid part. I wanted to be even handed about what happened. It took a while to let my disappointment abate so I could do that.
    If anyone else goes be sure and take sunscreen and chapstick with sunblock. You're still going to get some windburn, but no use adding sunburn to it.
    Bluey, if you want to go I'm thinking about next yr and you'd be welcome.
    One other thing to mention is the stars. They are so bright and clear.....You are closer to them with no light or air pollution. You truly feel like you could reach out and touch them..... Bruce
    ActionBob likes this.

  10. accipiter

    accipiter AH Veteran

    Jul 2, 2012
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    Namibia, South Africa, USA
    Bruce - Thanks for sharing your story. You are an incredibly strong man, both physically and mentally.

    I have been all throughout the Himalayas for travel, mountaineering and trekking. I did it in my 20s and never was there in winter.

    I hope you can get back there for a MP hunt and I look forward to reading the full story.

  11. FOUNDER AH Ambassador

    Oct 1, 2007
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    What an incredible report and amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing it all with us Bruce.

  12. olsenhoney

    olsenhoney New Member

    Jun 6, 2012
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    Bruce- I hunted with these guys in Nov 2012. Had a similar experience- I would love to visit with you- give me a call at 541-740-7530- Dirk

  13. sestoppelman

    sestoppelman AH Legend

    Apr 25, 2010
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    Member of:
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    Tanzania, Botswana, Zimbabwe (2), Namibia (2), South Africa (2)
    Great story, honest and truthful. I think it does very well illustrate what many dont understand and that is how much more difficult it is to make those long shots in the field than at the range. I would not have even attempted such shots.

  14. Nyati

    Nyati AH Ambassador

    Jan 15, 2011
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    Madrid, Spain
    Member of:
    Spain, Finland, RSA ( KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, North West, Northern Cape, Free State ).
    I feel for you, Bruce, you went through a lot of danger and discomfort and were not able to achieve your objective.

    At least you enjoyed the views, a friend of mine was on a MP hunt with his son, and just the day they arrived, a storm struck and kept them snowbound for the hunt s duration.

    Thanks for sharing, and wish you the best for next time.

  15. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

    Jan 20, 2009
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    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    The best I could do is 500 yd shot with no wind, any gusty wind 300 yards and under.

  16. RogerHeintzman

    RogerHeintzman AH Fanatic

    Jun 24, 2009
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    Aberdeen, South Dakota
    Member of:
    SCI (Sioux Falls, SD) RMEF, NWTF, NRA, NTA, BCSC, SDTA, NDTA, P&Y,
    Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Canada (Ontario,British Columbia,Manitoba), USA (Colorado,Montana,Wyoming,Texas,South Dakota), Africa(Limpopo,NW Province, East Cape, Kwazulu Natal,) Namibia
    Now I know the desire it takes to achive a hunt as MP. I do not foresee me at 57 and a bad knee doing such a hunt.

    Glad you got to experience it and share with us.

    A Dream can be relived, again and again in Africa."

  17. James.Grage

    James.Grage AH Legend

    Feb 8, 2010
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    Member of:
    USA - Canada -Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe

    Thanks for the report.

    I have been told by others that this hunt is not for the faint of heart.

    the long shots in the wind can be difficult.

    Over packing is one item others have mentioned



    Aug 5, 2010
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    Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico
    Sure is not the every day waltz in the grass.

    The long shot requirement. Big money on a tough, tough shot.

    Small horses that has your toes dragging on the ground as you sit in the saddle.
    Never mind staying on a horse as it goes down, then staying on while waiting for it to get up. Yeesh!
    Riding that many hours..

    Hanging off the saddle as the horse hangs off the mountain. What's that?

    Oxygen, what's Oxygen?
    Sea Level 20.9 %
    10000 Feet 14.2%
    14,000 Feet 12.2%

    That is quite the percentage drop.

    Short cuts?
    Ice rivers?

    Wicked hunt!
    I love sheep hunting, but this just proves sheep hunters are different.

  19. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

    Jan 20, 2009
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    Namibia, South Africa (East Cape, Guateng and Limpopo)
    As much as it is a physical hunt, it is very much a mental hunt. The second you let your guard down you could get hurt or miss out on a great sheep. The fine details of this hunt, make or break the hunt. I still lust to do this hunt.

  20. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH Legend

    Sep 10, 2009
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    Namibia, Kyrgyzstan(2) South Africa(2) New Zealand
    Enysse, you are 100% correct about the mental aspect. That lack of mental sharpness is what, I believe cost me my sheep.... Brick, you're also right. Sheep hunters are different.. Not sure why, but I guess that most would say I qualify. 19 days and 1 sheep so far. Plus looking to go back.... So did someone volunteer to go with me next year? Bruce

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