Marco Polo Sheep, the Grandest of the Grand
If you’re thinking about a Marco Polo Sheep hunt of your own, this article is for you.
Marco Polo Sheep hunting is something I find myself dreaming of quite often. I have a totally unrealistic dream of pursuing these incredible sheep with archery gear, which I know if I ever get the chance, will probably result in one of the toughest hunts of my life. But hey, a guy can dream right?
There are two primary places to hunt Marco Polo rams, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan. On average Tajikistan produces bigger rams, but is also more expensive (on average about $10,000 more), but if you are looking to take a trophy ram, then look no further as Tajikistan is where you want to hunt. If you are more interested in just having a great hunt for a good representative ram and trophy class Ibex then Kyrgyzstan is the place for you. This article will focus on Kyrgyzstan with Tajikistan to follow.
Kyrgyzstan is located in Central Asia and the entire country is about the size of Nebraska, but almost the entire country is covered in Mountains. It is because of the meeting of the Tian Shan and Pamirs Mountains that Kyrgyzstan has such great habitat for Marco Polo sheep and Ibex. Over half of the country is located at elevations greater than 8,000ft, so you need to be physically and mentally prepared for high elevation hunting in steep terrain. If you book a Marco Polo or Ibex hunt in Kyrgyzstan, you will fly into the capital city of Bishkek where you will be met by an interpreter and camp management staff.
TIP: One thing that makes the entire process much smoother is to pay the extra fees for a VIP transfer as there are fewer hassles and the services are much better. U.S. and Canadian citizens do not need an entry visa. One other key thing to remember is to get a firearms declaration from US customs prior to leaving the US so you can prove your firearms are truly yours upon return to the states.
Once you have cleared customs, you will travel several hundred miles by 4×4 vehicle (most are Toyota Land Cruisers) to reach the hunting area. Depending on which camp you hunt out of, you may be staying in a well equipped base camp with permanent buildings, Yurts, outhouses and even generators, while other camps are going to be temporary spike camps that may be made up of Yurts, portable trailers and/or light weight Hilleberg tents. Food is very basic, but filling, however we strongly recommend you bring your own snacks and a good number of freeze dried meals to give you some variety as well as to have available for when you spike out.
The hunt itself is physically demanding and hunters really should be experienced mountain hunters, as this is not the hunt you want to cut your mountain hunting teeth on. The outfitter we work with provides an English speaking Canadian or American Guide on all hunts to help make your hunt as successful and enjoyable as possible. Your base camp will be between 10-12,000 feet and you will hunt up as high as 13,500. Most people do not get altitude sickness, but we recommend you plan for that possibility and get a prescription for Diamox from your physician prior to departure. The first couple of days you will take it kind of easy to give you a chance to acclimate. The best time to hunt is late October, November and January due to the rutting period and overall concentrations of sheep. Be prepared to ride horses, as they will be one of your main transportation methods on this hunt and you will find that the locals are exceptional horsemen. You can expect to harvest a ram in the 44-52” range on average, if you are looking for 54” plus give us a call and we can talk about Tajikistan. I highly recommend that you also add an ibex to your hunt as there are good numbers of mid-40” Ibex in the Marco Polo areas.
If you want to talk about Marco Polo or any other Mid-Asia hunts give me a call as I work with one of the best North America based outfitters in the business. He hands down spends more time on the ground in Mid-Asia than any other outfitter in the business and has guided the likes of Jim Shockey, Colorado Buck and others to their dream rams.