TURKEY: Bezoar Ibex Hunt With Caprinae Safaris

JES Adventures

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Mar 7, 2015
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This hunt for Bezoar Ibex was not on my list for 2022 and I put it together at the last minute.
I was corresponding with Riza Gozluk of Caprinae Safaris about a future hunt when he told me of the problems that have arisenin Turkey. It seems there is an active and well-organized anti-hunting movement in the country that has started lawsuits against the game department to close hunting areas and they are making headway. The Turkish Government has already cancelled auctions for 1/3 of the quota this year and many areas that already had tags issued have been cancelled. He said that he considers this season to be lost and he is not sure what the future will hold.
He had a tag available for this season but was concerned about future lawsuits, so I made the decision right then. I told I him I had a very small window open to make a hunt, so we found dates that worked, and I booked my flight to Gaziantap, Turkey on November 12th. From the time I booked the hunt (about three weeks) to the start date a suit had been filed against the area where my tag was issued.
The weather is forecasted to be good for the week with clear skies and temperatures from the low 30’s to high 50’s. I packed my usual gear for this type of hunt along with the Christensen 300 RUM which I prefer when long shots may be called for.
I emailed Turkish Airlines a week ahead to obtain permission to travel with my rifle and had confirmation in three days.

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Day 1
Check in at Houston Intercontinental was a breeze and my wife picked me back up and we made it to a Saturday evening Mass at a nearby church.

Check in at Houston Intercontinental was a breeze and my wife picked me back up and we made it to a Saturday evening Mass at a nearby church.

Once back at the airport I went to the AMEX Centurion Lounge and ran into some other hunters from Mexico heading to Kyrgyzstan for Argali. Being a native Texan and a hunter, we had quite a lot of common friends and enjoyed a nice visit about the hunts we had all taken globally in the past with many to the same places.

I settled in for the nearly 12-hour flight from Houston to Istanbul while the flight attendants prepared dinner. They offer a nice selection of wines to accompany the meal and I chose the grilled prawns and a French white wine. I have heard good things about Turkish Airlines, but this is my first experience. The service was very good, but the seats were not on par with Emirates or Qatar.

I managed to sleep some and woke with about 3 hours left in the flight. My bags were checked all the way through to the final destination so only had to go through a short passport control line in Istanbul.

My connecting flight to Gaziantep was fortunately delayed by about 30 minutes which allowed me to get all the way across this massive airport to make the flight.
As the plane touched down at the Gaziantep airport I switched on my phone and immediately had a message from a friend asking if I was OK as he had just heard about the bombing in Istanbul. It had occurred a couple of hours before I arrived, and everything appeared normal at the airport.

Riza met me along with two other men Murat and Sihat that will be with us on the hunt. By the time we got the firearm cleared and across town to a nice hotel I was in bed just before midnight.

Riza said we will meet at 8 for breakfast and then drive 3 hours to the hunting area.
Day 2

The 9-hour time difference did a number on me, and I woke sometimes after 4AM and read for a while. At 6, I heard distinctive sound of the Muslim call to prayer from loudspeakers in the city.

The plan was to meet for breakfast 8 and be on the road before 9. We stopped in Kahramanmaras about 2.5 hours into the trip for some ice cream! It seems this area of Turkey is renowned for its ice cream made from goat’s milk. I am game to try just about anything so was happy to give it a go. It was a basic mild vanilla flavor and didn’t have a strong goat cheese flavor but was rather mild. The consistency was interesting, very firm almost rubbery. Once finished we’re back on the road and in Elbistan by noon. We checked into the Ramada Inn which will be our base camp for the next week. Elbistan is a nice size town of about 150,000 people well developed and picturesque with the mountains all around.

We went to a local restaurant for a traditional lunch of kebabs and salads with a fresh type of naan bread. Next stop was the game department office to visit with the Director and meet our game scout. After some hot tea and a nice visit, we went to check the rifle there’s so a bit of glassing.
We were able to get in a couple of hours before sunset and manage to find one group of females about a half mile up the mountain but no males with them. The rut typically starts in mid-November so we could see activity at any moment.
Jetlag seems to have the best of me, not really sure why so I forced myself to stay up and try to get on a regular schedule. We all met for dinner at 8 o’clock and by 10 I was back in my room and gone to bed. The last thing I remember is wondering what tomorrow holds!
Day 3

I didn’t have the best night’s sleep, tossed and turned most of the night. Finally woke up about 4:20 and got ready for the day. We’re set for head out at 6:30 so I caught up on my messages and some reading before preparing for the day.

It is cold, in the low 30’s and a clear sky. It should be the perfectday for hunting.
We got to a high saddle where we could glass just as the sun was rising. Within 20 minutes a group of females were spotted on the skyline to the West. About 20 minutes later two males were on the opposite skyline. As Guray got the spotting scope set up the billies fed over the ridge, and another appeared. Over the next half hour more billies showed up and at one point we had 24billies on the mountainside.
There were a couple of exceptional billies in the 44-45” range but this is said to be a prime area and it’s the first day of hunting,so we decided to wait.

The glare got bad as the sun rose so Riza suggested we remain here until the sun moves across the sky and gets into a position where we can make a more accurate assessment of the billies.

As the morning progressed, we talked about many things, but the recurring topic was the current situation in Turkey with tags getting cancelled. Murat spoke to Riza, and he translated to me that it is possible I am the only person hunting Bezoar Ibex in Turkey today. That’s hard to imagine as mid-November has always been prime time to hunt but every outfitter in the country has been affected by the tag cancellations and closures. The hunting world seems to be constantly changing and we never know what a government will do from one day to the next when they feel pressured by a fringe constituency.

After lunch we decided to go glass another section of mountains,so we left Sahit to watch the ibex. We found a couple of females in one location, two young males in another location and made our way back to Sahit about a half hour before sunset.
He has been watching this group of ibex many of them had moved a little bit lower down the mountain and we’re grazing on a grassy bench. We located a very good Billy that we believe is the one we need to go after, so we’ll make a plan for the morning if the weather permits.

The wind began to pick up and just before we left a few raindrops were falling. The forecast is now for rain starting this evening and throughout most oftomorrow. Weather, a never-ending factor in hunting. What was forecasted to be a nice, sunny week is not plagued with wind, clouds and rain.

We went to a restaurant in town and had a nice meal and made the decision to wake up at and meet at seven in the morning and make our plan based on the weather.
Day 4

I finally had a solid night sleep and woke to the alarm at 6 AM. I made a cup of coffee and looked out of the hotel room window and saw the dense cloud cover and rain.
At breakfast we decided to sit it out and see if the weather improves. The forecast calls for a brief pause between 3 and 5 today so we left the hotel at 1 for lunch. The rain started to subside by 2 and we headed for the Mountain about three. As we approached, we could see that the cloud cover was still very lowbut decided to set up and glass as the clouds rolled through. We did manage to spot four females bedded down about 1/3 up the mountain but never spotted any Billies.
Sahit made coffee and we traded hunting stories well catching a brief glimpse of the mountain side as the clouds rolled through.

About 4:30 we called it a day and packed up and headed for the hotel. Weather forecast has the rain stopping around midnight and partly cloudy skies most of the day tomorrow and Friday. We’re all looking forward to getting back on the mountain with better visibility in the morning.
Day 5

The first thing I did when I woke was walk to the window to assess the situation. There was dense fog all through the city, so we had a leisurely breakfast then decided to go up to the mountain and wait it out. As we approached, the whole area appeared to be shrouded in fog. Whike climbing in elevation on the two-track road, we broke out of the clouds and could actually see the top of the mountain!

Once we were at the observation place and all of the spotting scopes set up, the occasional cloud would roll by and cut visibility on the mountain. When it cleared, Guray spotted some ibex high on the mountain. A large group of males, many of which we had seen previously. There were 3-4 exceptional males in the large group, so we made a plan to go around the mountain and climb the backside to slip over and hopefully spot them before they spot us.

It took the better part of 2 hours to get around the mountain and up to a high saddle. Guray and Sihat moved forward very carefully and glassed for the ibex – nothing. Riza called Murat who remained below and asked him what he can see. It appears that the ibex caught our wind long before we topped the mountain and have moved away from us. We decided to stay high and traverse the side of the mountain glassing until we locate the ibex.

The rocks were one component of the difficulty moving across the mountain, but the other was with that the soil that lies between the rocks has become very slippery from the rain. I had a walking stick and managed to only fall three times through the day but with each step I took, my knee pain got worse and worse.

Multiple times throughout the day, Murat would see the ibex and let us know, then they would disappear into an abyss.

By 4 o’clock we decided to descend the mountain for the vehicle which I estimated was 2.5-3.5 miles away. I struggled to get down safely and questioned myself many times why I tried this hunt with my knees. I know that my arthritis has advanced, but I honestly believed I could handle this. I made it to the truck about 30 minutes after dark, knees numbed from pain.

While driving back to the hotel, Riza and the guys were making plans for the hunt tomorrow. I told them I hunt to enjoy myself and for the entire experience. Today was not fun, it was painful so I cannot climb up and down and side to side for 7 hours tomorrow, so we need to find an alternative plan.

Riza spoke with the game guard, and he said there are some trails that the ibex use regularly, heading to water so we could sit hidden and wait overlooking the trail. It is a hit or miss option but due to my condition this is the only chance I have.

Back at the hotel, I chose to skip dinner, took a hot shower, four Advil and went to sleep.
Day 6

I was awakened by the alarm at 6:15, fast asleep. I had a calm, confident feeling as I said my morning prayers. The weather was nice as the sun rose, there was no rain and a fairly highcloud ceiling. We all met for breakfast and hit the road about 7:30 and headed for the mountain.

When we were a mile or so from the mountain, Murat stopped to glass. First with his thermal scope and he could see 15 or so animals near the top of the mountain. Then we got the spotting scope and could see more clearly the band of billies spread across the rock face. The game guards showed up and looked at the ibex while discussing a plan. The place is too high, and I knew that I could not make the climb. My further concern was if we start up the mountain which would take at least 2-3 hours the ibex could feed away and the time would be lost.

After a half hour of watching and talking, the ibex started to feed away from us. There were several nice billies in the group,but one stood out amongst the rest. Within minutes it was decided we should go around the mountain to a place where we can glass a travel corridor and wait to see if the ibex travel that route.

It took about a half hour to reach the place and by 9:00 we were in place overlooking the trail around the mountain. Riza, the Chief Game Guard and I watched the mountain intently looking for any sign of movement. Finally, Riza said, “look there, up high” and I could see an ibex coming through a small passage in the rock face. We were all well hidden behind a large rock and low to the ground. A second billy appeared, and I glassed them both – they were immature. The distance was 388 yards so I had no doubt I could make the shot if the right one shows up. The billies moved across the rock face as I scanned for more ibex. Suddenly, I saw movement up above them about 80 yards to the left. I said to Riza. “Look, look there are two more ibex, look at the bottom one”. There were two billies and the lower clearly had much longer horns than the other three. He could not find him, so I did my best to get him dialed in, but these ibex were so camouflaged in the jagged rocks in amazed me.

I followed in the scope and studied the billy as he climbed. Riza finally saw him and said “yes, you should shoot that one, the second one”. I ranged him at 372 and followed in the scope until he stopped as he traversed the rocks. The thought went through my mind he can get away as they so easily disappear in these jagged rocks. He stopped momentarily and I could see he was quartering but was confident about making the shot, so I settled in and squeezed the trigger.

The RUM barked and I lost sight of him, but Riza said “he is hit”. I dialed the scope down and scanned the rock face and could see him moving away at a much slower pace than the other ibex. I increased the power and waited for him to stop. He was broadside so I let it go and immediately knew I had pulled the shot. He moved another 30-40 yards as I chambered a round and when he stopped, I took my time and squeezed the trigger. I could hear the report of a solid hit and the ibex started to tumble down the mountain.

Shouts of joy from us all and I thanked the Lord for my success on this hunt. We watched several minutes for movement, but the ibex had expired. It took about 45 minutes for the rest of the group to show up and we made the trek to retrieve the trophy.

I was speechless when I first saw this majestic animal up close. With horns sweeping back more than half the length of his body he is truly one of the finest mountain game animals I have been Blessed to collect.
After a lengthy photo session, we packed out and headed for the game department office in town. While Sahit did the skinning, Riza and the Game Guards took care of all the necessary paperwork and measurements of the animal for record keeping purposed. The final measurement was 123 CM or 48.4 inches at ten years of age. Truly a spectacular hunt with some very finepeople, everyone worked hard to make me comfortable. Turkey is an amazing destination and I truly hope that the anti-hunting group does not succeed in permanently closing all big game hunting as it would be a tragic loss.


I wish to thank Riza Gozluk of Caprinae Safaris for his honesty and integrity throughout the entire process. My guides Murat and Sihat as without them I could not have completed the hunt. Finally, to the Chief of the Game Department and our scout Guray for their efforts and guidance in helping our team achieve the goal. Ultimately, the quantity and quality of the wildlife in their area is due to the dedication to their work within the Game Department.
Beautiful animal, congratulations.
Great trophy congratulations. I had no idea there was an organized anti-hunting movement in Turkey. I would have thought Turkey had other priorities. My Dad and brother hunted with caprinae maybe +/- 12 years ago. Both took very nice ibex also and enjoyed hunting with them.
I enjoyed your report-congratulations on another successful adventure!
Congrats on a fine trophy!
Thanks for posting. Makes me want to go to Turkey immediately.
One of the world's great animals to hunt. I have almost pulled the trigger several times, but like you, am getting beyond my best hard mountain hunting years (am going to pursue an Auerhahn / capercaillie in the Austrian alps in April, but won't be anything like ibex or goat hunting.

I am really shocked to hear about the anti-hunting movement in Turkey. I had no idea they had gained such traction there.

And yes, nine hours is a bunch. In the military we always planned that time difference caused a day of reduced effectiveness for every two hours of difference.
Great looking billy. Glad you were able to pull this hunt off.
Congrats for a great experience and magnificent animal !

I envy you, would love to go back to Turkiye, great country, nice people, excellent food.
Sounds like a fabulous hunt. Congrats on a fine ibex. Thank you for taking the time to share the adventure with us. Much appreciated.
Great trophy congratulations. I had no idea there was an organized anti-hunting movement in Turkey. I would have thought Turkey had other priorities. My Dad and brother hunted with caprinae maybe +/- 12 years ago. Both took very nice ibex also and enjoyed hunting with them.
It’s amazing how hunting is under fire across the globe. The outfitter has no idea if they will even be able to operate in 2023.

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