It’s July 1st (we almost made the June deadline); students are on summer vacation, families are traveling and hopefully, many of you are out training and shooting in preparation for your fall hunts. I keep in contact with many of our partners in Asia and they all would like to take a few more hunters this year as bookings are a bit slower than normal; much of it to do with people being nervous to travel and some of it from the oil and gas business slowing down. In this newsletter I’ll highlight some of the great valued hunts that we can offer. Since I only outfit a few bighorn hunters in Alberta, Canada now, we are expanding our offerings in Russia, Europe (Spain) and Central Asia, specializing still in Ibex and Sheep species. I mentioned in our last newsletter, but it seems many people watch too much news and are overly worried about international travel safety. It is much easier and safer now, then when I started international guiding/outfitting in 2002. Maybe someday I’ll eat my words, but I feel the safety risks are low and the adventures and memories are tremendous. If you are on the fence regarding a Central Asian hunt, jump in with both feet as they are a better value than N. American hunts for similar species and success rates are generally higher. Here, the harder you work, the luckier you get. There are language, cultural and travel challenges, but when the hunts are organized properly and hunters are well prepared for what to expect and what equipment to bring, they are memorable and exciting adventures.
While on a training hike with one of my friends three + weeks ago, I almost stepped on this baby Mule Deer fawn. I took a couple photos and left him alone so that he could rejoin his twin and mother.
Hunting is one of the few things I’ve found which keeps many busy people motivated to stay in shape and eating more healthy than they would if they didn’t have this passion. If you are having trouble finding time to stay in shape, take it from someone who has slacked in this category the last 3 years; don’t let yourself get out of shape as it takes too much time to recover from our post season slow down as we age. Fitness and healthy eating….it needs to be a year round habit. It’s good for both physical and mental health and your hunts will be much more enjoyable and successful. If you need help with fitness and nutrition or are “too busy”, hire a personal trainer or consultant. While on a training hike with one of my friends three + weeks ago, I almost stepped on this baby Mule Deer fawn. I took a couple photos and left him alone so that he could rejoin his twin and mother. Hunting is one of the few things I’ve found which keeps many busy people motivated to stay in shape and eating more healthy than they would if they didn’t have this passion. If you are having trouble finding time to stay in shape, take it from someone who has slacked in this category the last 3 years; don’t let yourself get out of shape as it takes too much time to recover from our post season slow down as we age. Fitness and healthy eating….it needs to be a year round habit. It’s good for both physical and mental health and your hunts will be much more enjoyable and successful. If you need help with fitness and nutrition or are “too busy”, hire a personal trainer or consultant.
I’ve said it many times before, but marksmanship skills are lacking in most hunters. Please practice and shoot more often. You can’t buy trigger time. How many people run the Boston Marathon without training? For sure, a Marco Polo or Ibex hunt is to hunting as the Boston Marathon or an Ironman Triathlon is to sports. You need to shoot at both the range and also in the field, without bench rests. Three weeks ago, I spent a lot of time at the range, shooting my 300 Borden Caribou, 22-250 and a 6.5-284 Shehane on several occasions. It was the first time I’ve done any serious reloading in several years and it was good to get back into custom load development. Taking 3 rifles to the range is a good number, as it gives the rifles time to cool between shooting 3 or 5 shot groups. Attached is a photo I took at the range in Kamloops, BC. A small buck walked across the range as we shot and never even flinched. He drank water from a rain puddle and then fed, 40-100 yards from us for 30 + minutes. If you don’t have a range of 400+ yards near you, do a search for shooting ranges within a few hours, or better yet, sign up for a long-range shooting course.
Last fall I took my first reloading course from Darrell Holland (www.hollandguns.com) and it was excellent. His reloading/shooting combo courses are completed for the year, but consider taking one next April/May or he can do special groups of 3-4 hunters, on request, and where his allows. Check out Darrell’s website as he sells many good reloading and shooting tools. I also shot with Ward Brien last June at his high altitude course in UT (www.snipertools.com). He teaches custom long range and extreme range courses for high level shooters, and he also designed and sells the ACI (angle cosine indicator) plus a few other useful shooting tools. The folks at Best of the West and Huskemaw hunted with us in October/November for Kyrgyzstan Ibex and Marco Polo and I took one of their shooting courses (http://www.thebestofthewest.net/#!shooting-courses/c23ox) last summer. Their website shows their class schedule and they offer courses throughout the year. Their guns and scopes are easy to use and one of our clients made the longest kill of the season using their system. Their school is taught on a local ranch outside Cody, WY, plus they also travel to different parts of the country, where shooters can shoot their systems. Watch for 2 upcoming Best of the West TV shows with these Marco Polo and Ibex hunts being featured. In late July, I’ll take a 4 day course with two of our clients, at SAAM in TX (www.ftwoutfitters.com). I’ve heard many good things about this course. If anyone is interested in attending, there were 1 or 2 spots open on their July 31-August 4th precision rifle course; the cost is $3,900 USD and all food, lodging, etc. are included. They have over 150 targets designed for hunters. A group of our Marco Polo clients took this course last year and were quite impressed.
Other courses which I’ve never taken, but which come recommended are the ones put on by:
Magpul (WA): http://www.magpulcore.com/training,
Gunwerks (WY): http://www.gunwerks.com/Long-Range-University/long-range-training-courses;
Gunsite (AZ): www.gunsite.com
Defensive Edge (ID): http://www.defensiveedge.net/index.php/classes
Please also look at a site I’ve started with my friend, Jeff Jamison (www.cullhunt.com) as we will be updating it with cull hunting opportunities and shooting courses in addition to the ones listed here. My advice is to take at least 2-3 courses as each course and instructor has their own specialty and focus. Some are designed to sell guns/scopes and they don’t teach shooting fundamentals as much. Others are very military oriented and are taught using MIL line systems. Some are extreme range and some are more mid-range. The “best” courses are 3-4 days in length and students shoot 150-300 rounds of ammo in the course. I recommend taking 2 rifles and for sure, both should not be 300 and 338 magnums as the recoil and muzzle blast is too much when shooting this type of volume. Consider using a 6.5, 270 or 7mm caliber for at least one of your rifles. For serious and ethical mountain hunters, being able to make precise, first shot hits up to 700 yds is critical. Shooting longer than this is seldom needed and there are too many variables, mostly wind, imperfect rests and angle shooting, which makes it very difficult for even the most experienced shooters to hit where they desire. Ideal ranges for mountain shooting is between 200-450 yards. I’m all for hunters getting closer, but at under 200 yards, many of the sheep and goats spook very easily and at over 450 yards requires very good knowledge of ballistics and shooting, which few hunters possess in field shooting conditions. Also, practice a lot of shooting from field positions: bipods, packs, tripods, shooting sticks, stones/boulders, etc. Just shooting off of a bench will tell you what your rifle is capable of, not what the shooter is capable of. The real art in long range shooting is judging wind and also shooting quickly, accurately and consistently from field positions.
African Management (Cull) Hunt in July 2015:
Ten days ago, one of our South African outfitting partners wrote me; he has 100 antelope males and wart hogs to shoot for his meat export business. He needs 2 hunters, 2 x 1, for 5-7 days of shooting, mid to late July 2015. Hunters will each shoot about 10 animals per day and a few trophy animals can be organized at the hunter’s request. Write or call me for pricing, as its very affordable and I’ll put you in touch with the outfitter. He has rifles and ammo that can be leased/purchased so hunters don’t have to travel with their rifles. We have another outfitter in S.A. who also offers excellent Cull hunts. Meat and breeding prices are strong right now, and in general Cull hunts are more expensive than a couple years ago, but operators who export their own meat can offer more affordable rates. If they do live export and breeding, then Cull hunts are not affordable in general, and why you don’t see them advertised so often. We are also working on arranging affordable cull/management hunts in Australia for 2016. For anyone interested, we can add you to our list of interested hunters who wish to do this type of shooting. If you are a hunter who would like to hone your shooting skills, a management hunt is the best way to do this, in addition to taking a shooting course. Another great option for shooting is to go Prairie Dog or Rock/Woodchuck hunting with your hunting rifles and also some light recoiling rifles. It’s great practice and farmers/ranchers will appreciate it.
Mid-Asian Ibex in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan:
I’ve said it many times, but Mid-Asian Ibex is one of the best hunting values in the world. When looking online, you can find them advertised, from local operators to the biggest international agencies, ranging from $5,500 to over $12,000, depending on services offered, sizes, camps, etc. Our goal is not to be the most expensive or the cheapest. Our hunts range from $8,000 to $9,000 USD, which we feel is fair and everyone can make some profit while providing accurate information, quality animals and professional experiences to our clients. Because our partners have a greater supply of Ibex licenses then there is demand, we are offering a Summer Ibex Special. I’ve personally been to and guided in most all of the camps and hunting areas where we send clients; we are always looking at new areas to increase trophy quality and to provide more options. In Kyrgyzstan we have over 5 hunting areas/locations we can send hunters and we are still expanding. In Tajikistan, we can send Ibex hunters to an Ibex only area near Dushanbe for hunters looking at shorter hunts and less travel time or to our Marco Polo area in the Southern part of Tajik which requires a lot of travel time. Unlike Canada and the USA, all license fees are included in the hunt price. Also, there are no bush flights, which can be costly to hunters. For example, most Mountain Goat hunts in AK or BC are $9,000-$14,000 before licenses, taxes and flights. These animals are fabulous, but an Ibex is more cunning and has horns that are many, many times bigger. Plus, you will get to appreciate the odor of an Ibex for many years, once he is mounted in your house or office…☺
We currently are offering the following Summer Specials (over $1500 off normal price) on Mid-Asian Ibex. Ibex is the best entry -level animal in Asia due to availability and cost.
Tajikistan Ibex – 5 day hunt: $6,650/hunter if two hunters book.
$7,000/hunter if one hunter books.
Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan – 8 day hunt: $7,150/hunter if two hunters book.
$7,500/hunter if one hunter books.
Marco Polo Tajikistan:
We have one Tajik hunter, Oct. 5-19th (arrival and departure dates into Tajik) who needs someone to travel with. This area produced a 58” ram in October 2014 and many in the mid 50” range. We organize two hunters per hunt date with each hunter getting a driver, two local guides and either the English speaking owner or his brother accompanying you. No other hunting companies in Tajik provide this level of service or length of hunt. Hunters need to be fit due to the high elevation and hiking required. This hunt includes 8-10 days of hunting. We also can take one group of 2 hunters in mid-November, which takes in the first part of the rut. Time is limited to get USA hunters on the US CITES Import list, but for non-Americans, it is not an issue as permits are under prescribed each year.
$39,500 for Polo and $4,000 for Ibex – which is a $3,000 discount.
Marco Polo (Hume Argali) Kyrgyzstan: We have a couple of late October and November dates. We are splitting up our hunters into groups of two, just like Tajikistan, because that way all of our hunters get the best guides, more personal attention and plenty of horses. We believe in providing a quality experience and when we have tried to accommodate too many hunters on one date, there has been a lack of horses and the best guides. This is a horseback hunt and most hunters will spike out in a tent – Ibex are also plentiful. There are 2 guides and 1 packhorse per client. Each hunter goes in a separate direction so they aren’t competing with each other. Each year we learn from past experiences and are always trying to improve our level of service and hunt quality and have decided this is the best method.
$24,500 for M. Polo and $4,500 for Ibex on trophy fee. This is a $2,000 discount over our standard price.
Marco Polo/Ibex 2016, 2017:
I am planning our 2016 further out and trying to book hunts now for 2016 and 2017 instead of waiting for the shows as in years past. We’ll lock in 2015 pricing for 2016 hunts with a $10,000 or larger deposit. The only price increase a hunter would need to pay are Govt Fee increases, which are beyond our control. If you don’t have a friend to travel with, this gives us enough time to find another hunter who can travel with you. If bookings are done on shorter notice, then finding additional hunters with similar schedules is more difficult. Also, I try to go over on 4-5 hunts each year to help personally guide and to learn new areas. If I can plan my season out, further in advance, it will also help. Marco Polo/Ibex 2016, 2017: I am planning our 2016 further out and trying to book hunts now for 2016 and 2017 instead of waiting for the shows as in years past. We’ll lock in 2015 pricing for 2016 hunts with a $10,000 or larger deposit. The only price increase a hunter would need to pay are Govt Fee increases, which are beyond our control. If you don’t have a friend to travel with, this gives us enough time to find another hunter who can travel with you. If bookings are done on shorter notice, then finding additional hunters with similar schedules is more difficult. Also, I try to go over on 4-5 hunts each year to help personally guide and to learn new areas. If I can plan my season out, further in advance, it will also help.
One of our 2015 hunters recently twisted his knee and just completed surgery for a torn LCL and a partially torn MCL. He told me that if we can find a replacement hunter, it might be better for him to come in 2016. Dates are Oct. 2-16th in the Kakwa area of Northern Alberta. Call for details and pricing. There will be one other hunter in camp and 3 guides, with one guide always scouting or assisting the client with the most needs. We hunt with quads and backpacks and hunters need to be fit; I’ll be one of the guides on this hunt. We like the October hunts as there is a better likelihood for snow and the sheep will come out of the timber and brushy areas.
Dall and Stone Sheep:
The AK Dall Sheep outfitter I mentioned in my last newsletter has an opening still on his second hunt in August. It is a backpack hunt in the Brooks Range of AK with the option to add Grizzly on trophy fee. This is a great hunt and when I talked to him a couple days ago, he was nearly booked for 2015 and taking deposits for 2016. Also, if anyone is looking for a backpack Stone Sheep, the owners of the BC area that I leased for many years have 2 openings in August. They have been taking only a few hunters each year, so there will be good rams, as the area is under hunted and with almost no resident pressure. I guided a 43 ¾” ram here in 2011. This area is especially good for seasoned hunters who want to have a real hunt with no pressure and a true wilderness experience. Also, they have a Super-cub on wheels and one on floats, so accessing all parts of the area is possible; they can hunt areas that were too difficult for us when I leased the area.
In our July newsletter, look for more details on Ibex in Spain, Turkey, Russia, Mongolia and Tur in Azerbaijan. If anyone is interested in these hunts, please call and I will explain the opportunities there for this year. The USD is strong and prices are reasonable. If you are looking for something exciting to do this fall, there are many opportunities available. I’ll also finish my Travel tips section on checked baggage tricks. Thanks for reading!
Asian & Canadian Mountain Outfitters
(250) 317-5525 (cell/wk)
(604) 648-9412 (fax)