|one of us|
Although in this report I describe this hunt as a "Heartbreak" it was a challenging, cultural and very enjoyable experience with great people. This is the hosted hunt advertised here by Tim Herald of WTA in late 2017. The Turkish Outfitter was Shikar Safaris. I booked, and Peter, a friend of mine also booked so we arranged to travel together.
While planning and waiting for hunt dates to roll around there were numerous questions sent to Tim who was always promptly responsive and helpful. Whatsapp is a great tool for comms.
Peter and I booked Emirates flights to Istanbul via Dubai. These flights are long. Auckland to Dubai - 17 hours. Dubai layover - 5 hours. Dubai to Istanbul - 5 hours. I find the fun factor disappears after a few hours of this and it becomes an endurance test. I try but don't sleep well on planes.
Peter took his R8 Blaser .300 Win Mag and I took my Tikka T3X .300 Win Mag. This rifle is a great shooter for wherever I have hunted apart from Africa.
Several days before leaving NZ Tim asked if we would be OK hunting in a fairly rugged mountain area for which we should bring sleeping bags, sleeping pads and spotting scopes. Not wanting to add all this the extra weight to our luggage we asked if sleeping bags could be borrowed in Turkey. I thought the spotting scope request strange as I presumed the guides would be already equipped with spotters. Tim put me in contact with Sendogan Bilge of Shikar who advised they would lend us sleeping bags and that the guides had spotting scopes. He also said we would hunt together and stay in caves in the mountains for 2 or 3 days. I was actually looking forward to that but sadly it never happened. We ended up hunting an area about 200 km east of Antalya, based in a village called Degirmenlik which is within the Taurus Mountains. It is a hilly / mountainous area and quite scenic.
Departure date finally arrived and I met Peter at Auckland after he flew up from Christchurch. Firearms check in with Emirates was smooth sailing and stress free.
We arrived at Dubai, happy that leg was done, and I followed Peter around a bit on his first Dubai Airport visit. It's a great airport, well designed and executed, well signposted and easy to navigate. We boarded our connection to Istanbul and continued. Arriving at Istanbul early afternoon we made our way to baggage claim and were greeted by Hakan from Shikar who would assist with firearms clearance into Turkey. Thank goodness Shikar provided a man on the ground for this. It's a horribly convoluted, time consuming exercise we would never have accomplished ourselves as multiple official departments are involved and language was an obvious barrier. No officials were difficult or obstructive, in fact all were quite courteous and we thanked all with handshakes, but all had to enact their procedures and fill out paperwork as we were producing passports, unlocking rifle cases and ammo boxes, having ammo counted, having serial numbers checked etc, etc. All in all this happened four times. Security, Police and Customs offices are not centralised so you end up walking from one end to the other in the airport getting all this done. Last stop was an office where we paid fees for security handling of our firearms. Cost each $35.00 Turkish Lira. Finally it was completed and each of us had a wad of documents which Hakan stressed we must safely retain. Part of the reason for the excessive documentation of visitors firearms is the high cost of both firearms and govt. license fees charged to Turkish firearms owners. The Turkish govt. doesn't want any foreigners cheaply selling firearms to locals.
I thought we were overnighting in Istanbul as that had been tentatively discussed some time back but Hakan said we were flying to Antalya that night and had flights arranged. OK, so Peter and I relaxed in Turkish Airs business lounge before catching the Antalya flight. It's a short hop of just over an hour and we were met on the ground there by Shikar's man Omar Bazoglu who was our interpreter, driver and fixer for the duration of our hunt. Omar had to report our rifles to Antalya Airport Police and advised them we had all the necessary paperwork from Istanbul which should allow us prompt release from the airport. But, oh no. Customs officers were happy to let us go but with Police we had another round of passport checks, rifle and inspections and paperwork to sign. Omar was not too pleased but what can you do ? Eventually we exited into the cool night air and headed for Omar's truck. We bundled our gear into the truck and I asked Omar what the plan was. He said we were going straight to the hunting area and would be staying at the home of one of our guides. We would not use the hotel option as it entailed about 1 1/2 hours travel each day collecting and returning hunters that just wasted hunting time. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive to Degirmenlik and we arrived at our host's home about 2 am. Despite the ridiculous hour and sub zero temperature we were cordially greeted by Oarsaan ( phonetic spelling ) and his wife and shown to our room which thankfully had a log burner going at full revs. We were told to sleep as long as we needed and to get up when we felt ready. The bed and pillow were firm but I just crashed under the heavy cover and slept soundly until about 5:30 hrs when the call to prayer softly sounded from the nearby mosque. I slept again and when I woke sunlight was beating through the uncurtained part of the window.
I had to get up then so dressed and left the room to look around. In the hallway hung some framed photos of our host with Ibex he had guided or hunted in his time. I hoped I would find rams that good. I made my way outside into freezing cold morning air. Up some concrete stairs is the actual dining quarters of Oarsaan's home and the door opened and I was beckoned inside to the warmth where the log burner was keeping it cosy. One side was a small kitchen and otherwise there were floor level cushions and a low table around which folks sat for meals. Shortly Peter arrived and breakfast was served.
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Left to right: Peter, Me, Omar, Oarsaan
Degirmenlik: two mosques visible in this village
Fresh bread and tea are staples with most meals and at breakfast we had fresh home made cheeses ( I loved the fresh Feta ), olives, a runny paste and a crumbly firm paste both made from Sesame seed, home grown Walnuts, hard boiled eggs and a few other goodies. Basically you took a chunk of bread, opened it and filled it with whatever you selected from the table and ate. The Turks sat comfortably crossed legged on cushions while Peter and I sort of contorted ourselves attempting to fit in.
Hunting Day 1.
After breakfast Omar said we would shoot our rifles to check sights and then head out to look for Ibex. We hopped into Omar's Ford Ranger and Oarsaan's Nissan and drove downhill to an intersection where some guides were waiting. They were Dermush ( guide and park ranger ), Memlut ( apprentice guide ) and another young guide and ranger I'll call Bill as I've forgotten his name. They all hopped aboard and we drove to the outskirts of town, stopping at a derelict building. Across a small paddock and ditch at 120 yds a cardboard box target was propped up for Peter and I to shoot. We both adjusted the scopes a few clicks before heading off to the hunting area. This wasn't far away. A short drive along the main highway then turning off onto an ascending road through a side valley and another village. From the village the road climbed more steeply into rocky hills which was some sort of park or protected area, and our actual hunting zone. Stopping at a high point on the road we had views over some rocky ground ahead. Out in the fresh air it was bloody cold. -1 degrees C, fresh snow dust on the hills and a very mean wind sucking out our body heat. About 300 yds in front of us on short grass tucked against the shelter of bluffs was a herd of about 30 Ibex. They milled about seeming unconcerned about vehicles. I could see the herd ram among the other Ibex but wasn't sure if he was of size or not. Omar said rams had to be a minimum 8 years old before becoming legal to shoot. We glassed back behind us too looking up into rocks and bluffs above the road. A couple of small herds of nannies and young rams were seen in sheltered spots out of the wind. We hung around for a few hours, glassing, in and out of the trucks until someone decided we needed a break so we drove up a little hill track into a sheltered basin where the guys got a fire going and heated up some bread and sausage with cheese for a late lunch.
After this lunch break I was invited by Oarsaan to walk uphill behind the basin to check a valley for Ibex. Oarsaan, Bill and I walked up into a small saddle under trees and glassed onto the opposite faces across the narrow valley. A herd of about 25 Ibex grazed in the sun. The herd ram had mature colouration but relatively short horns. We watched until they were out of view then returned to the trucks. We returned to the road and our earlier glassing position. The Ibex had moved across to the right. Alone, Oarsaan stalked in closer with his spotter to make a better assessment of the herd ram. A few minutes later he called Omar on cellphone and said the ram was immature. The day was closing so we drove back to Degirmenlik, had dinner and then pretty much went straight to bed. I was feeling very tired that night.
Hunting Day 2.
Feeling refreshed after a solid nights sleep we were breakfasting at 7:00 am and ready to roll in the early dawn light at 7:30 am. My plan today was to team with Dermush and Memlut and to hike directly back from Oarsaan's home, located right at the very base of the steep hill we would be climbing to start our hunt. Peter was heading off in a truck with the other guys to hunt another location.
Back in July I had right knee meniscectomy and had to postpone a September BC Mountain Goat hunt as recovery was slower than anticipated. For this hunt I had trained with regular hill hiking and varied backpack weights and the knee seemed to be cope fairly well. The fitter I became the less any discomfort bothered me. I had been a little concerned about how well the knee would cope on real hills but as we started climbing I realised I was comfortably keeping up with the guys and my focus was on the hunt with any concerns about my knee receding into background thought. Dermush wasn't wasting any time climbing, initially up under short Oaks until we emerged onto the open rock and good visibility of the upper ground. At this elevation most trees quite dispersed and seemed to comprise of evergreen conifers and some deciduous species. I was amazing at where trees had taken hold in crevices and ledges and managed to thrive in what seemed a sterile setting. The way the rocks were layerd and finely fissured reminded me of the chapped and cracked lips of someone who had been too long in the desert. In texture it even looked close to elephant skin.
Dawn had been freezing cold but after a good climb under the rising sun we had warmed up enough we were shedding outer layers. There was no wind and the cloudless sky was blue perfection. Nearing some bluffy rocks Dermush spotted Ibex. Only nannies and young that scooted off to our left. Yesterdays Ibex had not been concerned about our trucks. These Ibex that spotted we humans reacted more as expected in quickly putting more distance between us. There was no point in pursuing alarmed game so we sat and glassed around. I spotted more female Ibex out to the right, possibly from the same group, that also saw us and disappeared before I could show Dermush. We hiked on, sidling at about the same level with short glassing stops. We became parallel to a deep gully on our right and after some distance heard "snorting" emanating from somewhere in there. Moving ahead to clear some obstructing trees and with better views Dermush located a group of about 12 to 15 Ibex on the opposite side nervously milling about due to having our scent. Using trees as cover we got closer then glassed trying to find a ram. The only animals I saw were nannies, young and a couple of immature rams. Dermush bade me to remain where I sat while he disappeared around the hill, I assumed for looking further into the gully. He returned about 30 min. later, called Omar's cellphone and relayed a message before handing me the phone. Apparently Dermush had seen a good ram that walked into a cave or hole out of sight. If this ram reappeared I was to decide if I wanted to shoot or not. Without any real idea of where exactly this ram could be I lasered the opposite side of the gully. If he popped up somewhere there the shot would be from 250 to a bit over 300 yards. We waited and glassed for the better part of an hour without any further sightings. I wasn't surprised. I thought chances of seeing alarmed animals were not high.
So we resumed hiking and climbing, reaching the top of the range which opened up more country to view and glass. Dermush progressed slowly across the undulating rocks, glassing frequently and rapidly. Our direction was taking us further back along a long ridge and another very deep gully was to our right. We had just climbed onto the spine of the ridge when Dermush suddenly dropped prone and signalled me to crawl up beside him and remove my backpack. He pointed across the gully, saying "Ibex". I clearly saw the creamy coat of a ram, broadside and feeding under some large trees. The lasered distance was 330 yds. Through my binos I saw a younger ram there too. Neither was aware of us. Dermush glassed for several minutes then asked for my binos, Swarovski SLC 10 x 42. Propping them solidly on his daypack he used his cellphone to snap a pic through the binos. Then enlarging the pic on his phone he could better judge the ram's age. After a few minutes scrutiny he said "no", meaning too small or immature. We backed out and resumed hiking and glassing, climbing further up the ridge. No more Ibex were spotted. I noticed a fairly frequent occurrence of large and deep holes all along this ridge. We often walked on the narrow rock walls separating one hole from another. One very large hole seemed impressively deep. I wanted to look over the side but Melmut held me back, indicating that was unsafe. I thought it would be unwise to walk around in here in darkness. About 2:00 pm we stopped on a little grassy ledge forming the base of a bluff face and Memlut unloaded his backpack and organised lunch. Bread, cheese, sliced sausage, some sort of canned meat, fizzy drink and water. A wide expanse of hilly country surrounded us. Dermush and I glassed all we could see. No Ibex were seen. In total we loitered there for about 2 hours. Just around the corner Dermush had a game camera ( he has game cameras in many locations ) and he downloaded the card images into his phone. He showed me pics of a bear sow ( humped back like a Grizzly ) and cub walking past the camera. Pretty cool. The afternoon was getting on. We packed up and slowly retraced our route for home, again with regular glassing stops. No more Ibex were seen by anyone. We reached Oarsaan's home just on dark. I caught up with Pete who was a bit disappointed with not seeing any Ibex at all today. At dinner Oarsaan and Omar told me that we I hunted today holds a lot of Ibex when the snow really piles up. They seem to find more safety here from Wolves in the depths of Winter.
Hunting Day 3.
We were heading out in Omar's Ford Ranger by 7:30 am. It was the same team of Durmesh, Memlut and me. Again, we were going to hike and hunt. We headed along the same road we traveled on the first morning. Just before the village something sitting on the road turned out to be a small gray fox that darted away. We were not as far up the road when Omar stopped and we all hopped out. A narrow trail started at the roadside on which Durmesh headed away, followed by me, then Memlut. The track passed through a grove of spectacular looking rocks and I had to get a photo.
The trail was not signed or marked but with observation could be followed as a line of muddy shoe prints as it wound its way through the confusion of dry rocks. This whole area was as open as the high ground we traversed yesterday and comprised of myriad gullies and valleys, large, small and in between. Unlike country I usually hunt I saw no running water anywhere in here. However, water was available. Mainly in little springs the guys knew about from their explorations. At one stop Memlut disappeared downhill with a 2 Lt. plastic bottle and returned with a filled bottle he put into his pack. Under some groves of trees I saw mossy rocks but still didn't see water. Another thing I noted was lack of birdsong here. Maybe songbirds birds don't reside here in Winter...?? The main birds seen anywhere were Crows. Continuing on the trail Durmesh rounded a corner and stopped. He pointed and said "Ibex". 5 or 6 Ibex which had seen us from 200 yds loped away out of view. I did not see a ram. The trail course was very undulating and rugged with constant clambering up and down. Durmesh was making frequent, brief glassing stops which gave me little time to do the same. I didn't worry too much. His eyes are sharp and unaided he spots distant Ibex very well. Eventually we came upon a long grassed ledge under an overhanging bluff. Evidently this was a regular stop as a small fireplace was sited at one end. From here was a broad outlook over quite an expanse of country. Memlut started gathering loose pieces of the very dense and dry timber lying around and got afire started. Dermush and I sat in various spots while giving the surroundings a thorough glassing, and saw nothing. Tea was made and we relaxed a bit drinking tea with sweet biscuits.
Memlut making tea
Tea time at the man cave
After a couple of cups I continued glassing. n the most distant skyline ridge I saw an Ibex. I could see horns. I asked Melmut to explain to Dermush where it was and for Dermush to have a look. He did and declared it female. I think he was wrong. More likely a young male I thought. I resumed glassing again until more tea and lunch was made, then took a break. The day was another beauty. Fine, clear and sunny but quite chilly. Sitting in the sunlight kept the chill at bay. We lounged lazily for a while after lunch. The guys were having a smoke so I again resumed glassing. I looked again at the same distant skyline. This time several Ibex were silhouetted. One had big horns. I got Durmesh to look again. He looked with his binos, then used mine. When he saw this ram he said "oh, oh, oh". He phoned Omar, said something then handed the phone to me. Omar said it looked to be a big shooter ram but was about 10 km away and too far away to reach in the remaining daylight. But tomorrow we could hunt that area looking for that ram.
The big ram was on the right side of the skyline ridge in centre picture
We packed up and hit the trail again, up and down, through and over numerous deep gullies, spurs and ridges. For some reason Durmesh started leading us down inside one of the deep holes. Melmut obviously objected and a sharp conversation ensued. Dermush changed his mind and we went around instead. Further on we rounded a bend where a rock wall stood about 100 yds ahead. "Ibex" said Dermush and I saw about 5 Ibex scampering quickly away. Evidently Dermush wanted a better look as he just took off uphill, following the hill's contour. I was scrambling to keep up as he ducked under trees and jumped from rock to rock. I was trying not to put a foot wrong. For about 10 minutes we hustled until some faces came into view. Durmesh bade Memlut and I to sit while he went on further to check but soon returned saying the Ibex " go away". The afternoon was getting on and our course took a heading for home. Durmesh retrieved another game camera and downloaded the pics. There were photos of an American hunter who was guided through here. Also some Ibex pics including a reasonable ram Durmesh said was 8 years old. We had no more Ibex sightings as evening set in. We reached our start point on the road in the dark. It was cold again. Omar was waiting with his truck and a thermos of nice hot tea.
Hunting Day 4.
Last night a front rolled through and it snowed again. On the bigger hills we saw fresh snow and low cloud as we made an early departure from Oarsaan's home. Oarsaan drove his 2WD Nissan truck. Memlut and I were aboard. We collected Dermush at his home, drove on around a few more bends to the outskirts of the village, parked the truck under trees and geared up for hill hiking. It was damn cold with an unwelcome breeze. Occasional snowflakes swirled down. At this elevation it was bearable while hiking. The trail started under Oak groves and ascended quite gradually. We were heading into the country in which I spotted the big ridgetop ram yesterday. Oarsaan's pace was easy. The gentle gradient continued as we climbed, emerging into open country offering scenic views of Degirmenlik village below. The higher we went the colder it became. We reached the fresh snow, about a 5 cm ground cover, and kept climbing. Oarsaan stopped where the trail ran alongside a gully on our right. He indicated he heard Ibex. I listened and ahead of us heard a series of quick snorts. Alarmed Ibex. Initially we couldn't see them as trees screened our view but as we waited Ibex appeared on the opposite gully face 200 yds away. Nannies and young. More snorting as they vacated the vicinity.
We kept climbing. It was not much further and we hit the fog layer. Oarsaan had us stop here, indicating we wouldn't see anything if we were in the fog. We would wait awhile and see if any fog lifted. Damn it was cold. I felt chills quickly when we stopped moving so pulled on my Kuiu down jacket with heavy gloves. The guys got a fire going and all of us huddled to soak in a few BTU's. With sufficient coals in the fire Memlut organised lunch. Cans of beans and something wrapped in grape leaves were opened and heated in the coals. These were served with bread and cans of fizzy drink.
Heating up lunch
About 1:00 pm Oarsaan phoned Omar. Then he pointed at the fog, shrugged his shoulders and indicated we would walk down. I guessed conditions were unlikely to improve. The downhill hike was quite brisk. We were almost on the last leg when I followed Oarsaan over a slab of dry rock. I stepped onto an ice patch I didn't see and promptly tipped up. I landed on one knee, my chin and on the bolt side of my rifle stock. I was more embarrassed than damaged. Luckily the scope didn't hit anything. The guys lifted me up expecting some damage I think but actually I was fine and quickly continued walking normally. Only that night I found a decent cut on my left knee that honestly I never felt at the time.
Back in the truck we drove to a small town and met up with Peter's team who were sheltering from the cold. Peter was a bit glum. That morning he took a 340 yd. shot at a ram, and shot high, missing the ram ! It was a prone shot but said he was shaking in the cold which affected him. I offered condolences and assured him another opportunity would come. Soon we all moved down the road to an non signed, nondescript building which upon entry was a restaurant / tea house. A log burner was pumping out warmth and some senior gentlemen were at a table playing a board game. To a man they all rose, welcomed us with handshakes and put chairs around the logburner for us. All the guys here knew each other and there was good natured banter all round. Apparently this facility was where the men gathered when the wives shoved them out of home. We drank sweet tea and coffee while Peter's team ate their lunch.
After this enjoyable interlude both parties hopped into their respective vehicles and drove back to the road we glassed from on our first day. Man, that damn polar wind was roaring down that road. The truck thermometer showed -3 degrees C, then -5 Degrees. We drove along, stopping to glass here and there. Mostly the guys glassed outside then hopped back inside to get out of the wind. Peter was definitely feeling cold and spent most time inside the truck. Above the road were broken bluffs, sheltered and in sunlight. There we saw groups of nannies, kids and young rams. We kept driving up the road until we hit ice and the 2WD couldn't go any further. Everybody was glassing uphill through the truck windows. I happened to look ahead as a ram stepped onto the road. I nudged Oarsaan and pointed. He nearly flipped and lept from the truck, running back to alert Omar. Peter with his rifle and the guys ran up but the ram had scooted over the side,downhill. The guys were moving and glassing up and down the road to find the ram which took some time but Orasaan eventually did find the ram with another 3 rams in some rocks about 300 + yds away. I grabbed Oarsaan's Swarovski spotter and he and Durmesh were assessing shootability. Peter was set up sitting at a large rock ready to go. Omar was stressing that Peter douldn't shoot unless the guys said OK. Peter was visibly shaking in the cold. I could see a steady shot would be tough. I was hold spare rounds for Peter in one ungloved had that ached form cold. The rams got back to around 400 yds as the guys glassed. Durmesh took cellphone photos through the spotter and eventually said there were no shooters there. The best was only 7 years old. We all stood down, reboarded the trucks and headed back to Oarsaan's home. Peter was unlucky to have not had better luck. Hopefully the weather would turn for the better. I talked to Omar about our hunting area. He said it was the toughest terrain of the areas Shikar hunted. They get 4 Ibex permits per year here. Ibex numbers are not high and they know poachers take some Ibex for the black market. Further East in other hunting areas the terrain is a bit easier, Ibex rams are more numerous and bigger and poaching is hardly an issue. Omar said typically Ibex hunters come in and get their trophy in a couple of days. I wasn't worried that we had not done so but would liked to have seen more mature rams by now.
Hunting Day 5. ( Day of Heartbreak )
The cold spell persisted. Both Omar's and Oarsaan's trucks hit the road, again heading for the road we worked from yesterday. Low snow cloud was rolling over, scattered snowflakes whirled around and fog shrouded the hilltops. The truck thermometer showed -2 degrees C so it was as cold as yesterday. Again glassing both side of the road we saw the same Ibex groups above the road in the bluffs. Instead of staying confined to the trucks we stopped at a certain point, hopped outside and down a little bank under a couple of trees and tried to sit out of the mean wind. The guys got a fire started against a rock backing. They piled on a dent amount of deadwood and soon had a decent blaze. Of course, tea was made for all and a couple of hours later lunch was prepared. Oil in a pan was heated on coals before adding diced onion, tomatoes, eggs, salt and chicken slices which was all heated while tossing. The mix was stuffed into rough torn chunks of bread and served. Delicious and just the ticket to warm the insides.
The fog and low cloud gradually lifted and sunshine was highlighting the scene. Conditions were now suitable for hiking and hunting. Omar drove me, Orasaan, Durmesh and Memlut down the road, turning off onto a dirt track that wound along under Oak trees. On a little rise we hopped out and immediataely headed inland, following Durmesh along a rocky route winding it's way uphill. Higher, the terrain opened to the familiar open dry rocks featuring numerous gullies and deep holes. Durmesh made frequent glassing stops and during one of these Oarsaan spotted a ram, probably 1 km away. Both men glassed the ram and when Durmesh looked he turned to me saying "one big animal". With guidance from Durmesh I saw the ram on my second try. Only a rear view but I saw a big body, the creamy coat of a mature ram and the back end of horns. I had no idea of the horn length. Both guys were quite enthused and I knew we were going after this ram.
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"One big animal"
Durmesh had the afterburners going in the initial approach and I pushed it to keep up around this rugged terrain. The guys picked an observation position and slowed down as we got closer and ensured we approached unseen by Ibex. At first I stayed low while the guys did initial glassing and when they approved I came up behind to glass as well. Oarsaan had his Swarovski spotter set up. A nanny sat in the sun atop a sloping bluff. Beneath a large tree I could just see other reclining nannies. Oarsaan indicated our ram was behind the big tree, sleeping. I lasered the nearest nanny at 320 yds. In preparation I set up my rifle, rested on Durmesh's backpack and ensured I had a solid, standing shooting position. Bracing my body against rock I put the correct crosshair hold on the nanny and was happy the setup was sound. We waited and I cooled down. I pulled on my down jacket. Within an hour Ibex started to stir. Eventually all except the ram were on their feet, picking at foliage tidbits and slowly moving left uphill. I couldn't see the ram and neither could Oarsaan. Two other rams appeared which seemed to have good horns but I could see by the coat colour neither was our boy. Oarsaan thought our ram was still sleeping. Then lower down on the face of the bluff I saw going right to left a nanny being chased by a ram. Bigger bodied, creamy coat and longer horns. This was our boy. They ran in behind a broad evergreen conifer. Instead of appearing from the left of the tree as I expected they ran back from the right, back up the bluff out of sight. For the next few minutes I didn't see any rams. Oarsaan and Durmesh were glassing hard. Then further uphill on the left they saw three rams were together. They were screened by fine branches of a leafless tree. I could not distinguish any apart but Orasaan said our ram was there. Due to my difficulty he attempted to line up my scope on the ram. This helped a bit but the rams moved and turned and eventually I got it sorted. The lasered range was 365 yds. When I said I saw the ram they said "shoot" but there was too much foliage in the way. I decided to wait for a clear shot. The rams followed the nannies back down to the right and across a small open spot. First a small ram, then our ram stepped into the spot, presenting broadside. I could see from the end of the neck to halfway along a back leg. This was the moment. Positioning the crosshair on the left shoulder I held correctly for the drop and squeezed off the shot. In recoil I lost the scope picture. Oarsaan stayed on the spotter for long seconds, then smiling turned to me indicating with his hand the Ibex had gone straight down. He said "very good shoot". We were jubilant. Handshakes and man hugs all round. Oarsaan phoned Omar with the news. We learned Peter had also shot an Ibex just 10 minutes ago. Happy days ! Excitedly we gathered our gear and headed up to find our Ibex. Until this point I had carried my rifle all the way, every day. Oarsaan offered to carry my rifle and thinking it might help us reach the Ibex more quickly I let him carry it. That was a mistake. A bad mistake. Getting there over big rocks and deviating around a big gully took more than 30 minutes. Behind Durmesh and Oarsaan as we neared the kill site I looked down to my right and saw the ram lying on leaves under a spreading, leafless tree. The guys had walked right past. They were happy that I noticed.
I decided to take some photos before walking down to the ram. I didn't expect Oarsaan to carry on but I wasn't watching and he dropped down the rocks away from me, still carrying my rifle. Another bad mistake by me. I was busy repacking my camera when Memlut started chattering excitedly. I looked up and saw the ram on it's feet and trotting away. Desperately I looked for Oarsaan. He was too far away although running to me. I chanced a big leap off a ledge, luckily landing safely and grabbed my rifle. Too late. I just had time to see the ram crest a little rise and disappear from view. There just wasn't time to get a round in and the rifle up.
We immediately followed up hoping we would find a limping ram we could finish off but it wasn't to be. We all spread out in our search and looked for more sign. Oarsaan found some small splashes of blood that weren't very encouraging. There were many deep holes in the rocks around here. We looked into many but had no joy. I thought maybe my shot was low and asked Oarsaan by putting a hand on my forearm, indicating the ram's left front leg. Oarsaan was adamant the shot hit the shoulder. He indicated the shoulder was broken as the ram trotted away. We searched until it was dim enough to be pointless and nightfall was very near. Heavy hearted I donned my headlamp and followed the guys homeward. The walk out in the dark took a while. I had another embarrassing moment when scrambling down a little bank the toe of my boot caught under a rock and I tumbled flat onto my face. Again, no bodywork damage and we met Omar again about 8:30 pm at the earlier dropoff point. Apparently the news had got around the Shikar team that my ram went down hard, then got up and escaped. Omar said it's the only time it's ever happened to Shikar.
I asked Omar if we could return first thing tomorrow to search again and he was more than happy to oblige.
That evening back at Oarsaans home I congratulated Peter on his Ibex. His shot was 270 yds, very solid and the ram just collapsed. A bigger ram was seen and photographed but had only one horn. After dinner I looked at Peter's ram which was up in a sort of loft. Bezoar Ibex look quite regal to me. Later the guys carried the Ibex down to a porch area and caped it for a shoulder mount.
No hunting as such but I carried the rifle in case we stumbled onto a live, wounded ram. We were six in total. Oarsaan, Durmesh, Memlut, Durmesh Senior, Bill and me. We hiked nearly two hours back into the search area. All morning until early afternoon we looked high and low. As time passed my confidence waned. Bill found a wee bit more blood but nothing indicating this ram was in big trouble. From the evidence I would guess the ram took off downhill and got far away. If he perished someone may find his remains one day but actually I hope he survives. In my memory he lives and out there in the wilds he has certainly earned the right to live.
I had a close call today while we were searching. It was the first time I had been with Durmesh Senior. Where the other guys hopped over and around the terrain ( very ably ) D. Senior had a very relaxed style and more or less flowed his way around with seemingly minimal effort. I decided to stick with him as we searched. He crossed one of those narrow spines separating two enormous holes by walking a narrow ledge a little down the side of the spine. As I followed his footsteps along the ledge I reached out for balance with my right hand onto a BIG rock that looked solidly placed. As soon as I touched it I heard movement. I quickly shoved myself forward and heard that rock sliding. It slid right off it's perch and crashed heavily way down into the hole. Thankfully it didn't catch my backpack and drag me down. I doubt I would have survived that fall. I looked at D. Senior. He was boggle eyed. He raised both hands and just uttered "Allah". Under my breath I thanked God, Allah and further prayed my thanks to any other deities worth acknowledging.
When we all reassembled the guys served up lunch on the hill. I was downcast but it was a very nice day to be out there.
Back at Oarsaan's home that evening we were informed it was our last night there. Durmesh filled out his paperwork for my Ibex and we said our thanks and goodbyes to the guys after distributing their tips. Tomorrow morning we would head back to Antalya.
At dinner we had a special treat. Some of Peter's Ibex was cooked into a slightly spicy stew. It was delicious. I had two helpings. Compared to feral goat meat which I regularly enjoy I rate Ibex somewhat superior.
Hunting.... it's not everything, it's the only thing.
|one of us|
What? Please continue...
|one of us|
giden gelmez area?
|one of us|
Oh you're beating me to the punch :-)
I need to get my hunt report done and uploaded!!!
Waiting for part 2 :-)
"At least once every human being should have to run for his life - to teach him that milk does not come from the supermarket, that safety does not come from policemen, and that news is not something that happens to other people." - Robert Heinlein
|one of us|
You cliff hanged us. Can’t wait to see part 2.
|one of us|
Okay Grant! Time for the rest of the story!!!!!
|one of us|
Gents and other readers,
My apologies for being slower than the proverbial crippled snail ! Too many distractions.
I've added a bit more just now and plan to git it completed promptly.
Bobby7321, I think we were some way West of the area you asked about.
Hunting.... it's not everything, it's the only thing.
|one of us|
Grant: Very sorry to hear about the lost ibex. I have lost a few animals and it’s not fun!
I appreciate you posting the hunt report.
|one of us|
Tough hunt, great report, thank you.
Sadly, sometimes animals are lost, many of us have been there.
Your respect for the quarry is admirable.
|one of us|
Great hunt, sorry about the result. I had an almost identical thing happen once with a bull Tahr. Shot him at about 350 meters and he went straight down. I was suspicious at the speed he went down so sat and watched him for a while. No movement and after a quarter hour my mate arrived and we worked out it was going to be a tough recovery so decided to head back to camp for breakfast. I walked off the high point I was on and turned to see my mate sprinting back, raise his rifle and fire. He said as he looked back one last time he saw the bull jump to its feet.
Weird thing was his bullet and mine were no further than an inch apart. Couldn't really tell who's was who's. Weird things happen sometimes and the luck of an angle or cm can see such a result.
|one of us|
Nice report on a great adventure. So sorry you came home empty. Bezoar ibex has always been at the top of my mountain hunting list. Someday.
I appreciate you taking the time to share..
|one of us|
Great write up!
Tough hunt, but that is how it goes sometimes.
|one of us|
Thanks for your report! Looked like high adventure. I am sorry about the tough loss on the ibex. I know this doesn't lessen the sting, but if one hunts long enough it will probably happen. Sometimes you remember the details of those hunts more vividly than the successful ones. I tend to play the moment of the shot in continuous loop in my memory, wondering what I could have done differently but eventually it fades but is never forgotten. Hope you make it back one day and get your Bezoar ibex. They are magnificent trophies!
On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of ten thousand, who on the dawn of victory lay down their weary heads resting, and there resting, died.
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch...
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!
- Rudyard Kipling
Life grows grim without senseless indulgence.
|one of us|
Super picts! I once had a Bighorn down that ran off after guide said "don't shoot again". Took another day to find and kill the wounded ram.
|one of us|
Thank you for the write up. That was the most engaging story I’ve read on AR.
We’ve all lost animals at one time or another. Some, like yours, are more consequential than others. All we can do is try to learn from the past.
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