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Experiencing culture and traditions of other nations is always exciting and even challenging. To get closer, to feel the heartbeat one should come and meet common people with their everyday life, their needs, difficulties, habits… Being a hunter, whether you hunt with a rifle or bow, you have a splendid opportunity to experience all of this in any country you go. Let’s say you plan your hunting trip to Russia. Climbing the Russian Caucasus chasing Western tur or Chamois, forging through a dense forest hoping to get an excellent Siberian brown bear, or stalking the gorgeous Kamchatka Moose or kinglike Altai Maral trophy, a hunter becomes a “native”, blends in the area, getting to know Russian hunting traditions and enjoying local food and hospitality traditions. This is an invaluable experience! But what comes next? Now you have to safely bring your trophy back home.

When the trophy is hunted it's a high time to think over its future trophy life. Some hunters prefer sending their trophies to their home countries dry salted, some others order to make shoulder/full size mounts in Russia by local trophy specialists. The advantage of a taxidermist who was born in Russia is knowing all native animals, their natural peculiarities and thus being able to make the trophies look authentically.

“Stalker Trophy” Taxidermy started its story more than 10 years ago. It was founded by a master mostly performing individual taxidermy orders. Gradually he gained a good reputation proved by high quality of his works. Then a small business grew into a taxidermy studio with a full cycle trophy preparation. Now “Stalker Trophy” offers a wide range of taxidermy services starting from dip and pack preparation for further exportation to making full mounts out of animals hunted both in Russia and abroad. Hides tanning, skulls bleaching, rug mounting are the most popular taxidermy works being ordered from “Stalker Trophy” by the hunters who harvest their trophies in Russia.

“Stalker Trophy” also provides trophy handling services. We monitor and take care of the trophies from the moment of harvesting and up to the delivery to a destination country and passing it to the broker. Combining exportation and taxidermy services, “Stalker Trophy” suggests two main options for a hunter:

1. Pack and ship option includes export documents preparation (CITES if needed), custom brokerage service, dip & pack and delivery to the destination airport. 

2. All inclusive option implies pack & ship and taxidermy service. Taxidermists complete a mount (or rug) in accordance with hunters’ instructions and then trophy is being exported and shipped.

The average exportation invoice totals around 1000 Euro when shipping from Russia to Europe and around 1600 USD when shipping to USA. It takes an average of 4-6 months to complete all works. Any hunter who comes to “Stalker Trophy” will find the best solution to suit the expectations. Contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive full info.

Each and every year, when the Bear hunting season begins and the hunters head off in search of the desired trophies, the bugbear season also starts for the taxidermy studios and outfitters. The problem is that the harvested trophy and a ready carpet are apples and oranges. Sometimes the hunters are very unhappy when they receive a ready item from the taxidermy studio. It is the size of the skin, that upsets the sportsmen. Let’s try to figure out what are the reasons of the event. The first – and the key factor is human. The harvested trophy is measured raw, right in the fields. This is the first mistake. Warm skin can easily stretch in all directions, like latex. As a rule, it is stretched lengthwise. During the measuring process, the skin fibers move causing width add up to length. For example, a bearskin can be stretched out for 2 additional meters; at the same time the width of the skin will be only 0.5 meters! Many people do not know the correct skin proportions length-to-width. This is true not only about the PHs and hunters, but also about some taxidermists, too – imagine how weird the ready item may look!

The second reason: one tends to forget that an animal has certain volume, just like every other thing in our world. However, the skins are measured flat. The difference between a flat skin and a ready item (for example, a carpet) can total up to 15-25 centimeters, depending on the skin size. This has nothing to do with shrinkage: these centimeters of length serve to provide the volume. The same is true for any other species trophy. The hunter has to know how to measure the trophy properly.

For example, the length of the lynx skin is 125 centimeters from the nasal root to the tail head. At the same time, the length of the cast body is only 106 centimeters. Extra length appears because the flat skin has no body volume.

The third and a very important reason is tanning. The whole look of the ready item depends very much on the tanning process. The specific characteristics of the skin lead to certain shrinkage of the trophy. The biological processes go on in the skin (corium) of the animal. Tanning is conservation of a living cell for future handling. No chemicals can substitute the biological processes and provide immortality of the cells. During the chemical tanning, the proteins of the derma shrink for 5-20%. The difference depends on the quality of the skin.

Most animals change their coat twice a year: in fall and in spring (actually, they shed the fur in spring only). We are now not talking about the African animals – those renew the hair coat during the whole year without appearing to do so, and keep the thickness of the skin the same all year round – in order to prevent dehydration. Therefore, here we refer to the carnivores of the moderate climate and of the northern regions.

Each species have the thinnest skin and the best strong hair prior to the shedding. At this point, the hair bulbs rise to the upper part of the derma, allowing currying the skin better and making the ready item thinner, softer, lighter and more flexible. In this case, the shrinkage will total up to 5-10%.

The animals usually shed for a long time. For example, when harvesting a brown bear in August, one can still see sparse long hairs among the short overhair. That is what is left of the winter coat. Same can be seen in wolf, fox and other carnivores. During this time of the year, the animals have the thickest skin, which hides the fur hair inside. In will grow prior to the cold season. This thick skin hides the new growing hair bulbs under the subcutaneous fat layer, and does not allow making the ready skin softer, lighter and thinner. Up to 20% of length can be lost to shrinkage. The skin thickness and the shedding highly depends on the weather. If the winter comes early, the skin might be fully mature and best for a trophy as early as October.

Every hunter needs to judge the harvested trophy correctly. It is better to properly measure the skin to avoid future disappointment when you receive a ready item from the taxidermy studio.

We are glad to share some comments from our client and friend, Mr.Randall Harley, who has recently returned from a successful Desert Bighorn hunt in Mexico:

“The hunt in Mexico went very well. The staff was very friendly, the food was delicious, and the guides were outstanding. I had no problems entering or exiting Mexico with my rifle and I was able to bring the horns and full skin back with me on the flight home. The border entry in Phoenix was very smooth since all of the required paperwork was in perfect order. I saw several groups of rams during the first three days. One group of 8 rams had some very impressive trophies, however, they were 800 yards away and going over the hill. Other groups were closer, but had smaller rams. On the third day, I shot my ram at 267 yards. He dropped down in his own shadow. The ram was judged to be 10 years old with 16+ inch bases and was heavily broomed to 33 inches long. He had a big chip out of the right horn that added some interesting character. I guess he was more of a fighter than a lover”.

   

It is held, that a Marco Polo trophy from Tajikistan is some kind of a carte de visite for any mountain hunter. I personally have rather conflicting emotions regarding this destination, however have to agree, that hunting in Pamiris are atrial involving complicated logistics activities, rough field conditions, long distance shooting and of course immense altitudes. The trophy harvested after fighting every hardship is surely well deserved. So what is the main attraction for the mountain hunters in Pamir? I doubt that it is moulding of character. Of course, the hunters crave beautiful trophies that they have heard a lot about and seen so many luring horn whorls in every hunting magazine of the world.

Most hunters think Tajikistan is about Marco Polo ram hunting only. However, that is not true; the country is rich in hunting species: Wildboar – the animal numbers are very high. The trophy quality is one of the best in the world.

Mid-Asian Ibex – often shot as additional trophy during the Marco Polo hunt. Nevertheless, not many hunters know that Tajikistan has several regions where you can harvest a high quality trophy of the Ibex with perfect horns. The local outfitters plan to separate the Tajikistan Ibex as an independent Pamir species in the trophy lists of Safari Club International and GSCO.

Socalled Tibetan Sheep. At this time, it is not a separate species from the scientific point of view. However, the morphological structure of its horns is very different from the Marco Polo argali. The Tibetan sheep has distinctive short horns: as a rule, they are no longer than one meter, with a very heavy base.

Urial–defined to be the Afghan species. However when it comes to registering the trophies, it would be fair to define two or three groups: Afghan, Bokharian, and Ladakh one. And finally Markhoor– majestic mountain animal, inhabiting rocky region of the Pyandj River. Bukharian markhoor species is the one living in Tajikistan. The hunt was prohibited for a long time, but starting with 2013, the licenses are issued again.

Pamir can frighten away a novice, but at the same time, it lures the daring big time hunters. Tajikistan mountains are cliffy, with a minimum of vegetation. The territory is very open, lacking any natural screen that would allow approaching the animals. Pamir literally holds the first place in long distance shooting among the hunting destinations. The hunter has to be ready for shots from 300-600 meters, quite often from an angle. The altitudes do not allow you to move quickly in case of wounding the animal: the human, residing at lower altitudes, is only able to make a couple dozen steps, and afterwards one will have to rest for quite a long time.

The weather during the hunting season in November-December some times can be rather warm, however evening comfortable temperatures of-5/-10 C and in bright sun, you’ll always have a cold biting wind. During the night, the temperature can go as low as– 25 C. The hunters start getting ready for high altitudes well in advance – it is best to take first Dimoxpills before even arriving to Tajikistan. Treatment course continues during the whole stay in the hunting region.

Nowadays many hunters decide to try to conquer Pamir after taking part in African safaris, hunting in Russian and European woods, and climbing the Caucasus Mountains. In November 2014 Russian hunters Sergey Nazarkin, Mikhail Rabinovich and Rafat Shaihutdinov decided to test themselves and complete their trophy collections with Marco Polo Argali and Mid-Asian Ibex.

Chronicle of events: a hearty welcome at the airport of Dushanbe awaited the hunters after the 4-hour flight from Russia. The custom formalities went smooth and quick thanks to the local outfitter. The transfer to the hunting region was planned for the next day. To save time and energy the hunters decided to rent a helicopter and fly to the base camp (the car transfer takes 2 days with an overnight in Khorog). The weather often fine-tunes the hunting process. This time the mountain pass was covered with clouds, and the departure was issued in two days only.

It didn’t go without “adventures”. During the helicopter transfer, after 30 minutes flight the pilot returned to the airport because of engine fault. Nevertheless, since Tajikistan region has challenging terrain, only two-engine helicopters are used, which allowed the hunters to get back to the airport safely. It took them about 3 hours to change the heli; and just several minutes before the flight cancellation due to late hour, they successfully left the airport and headed to the hunting region. The transfer is possible only during the daylight.

The flight took around 3 hours total. Our hunters had a unique opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views of Pamir at its finest: Sarez lake and amazing snowbound mountains. The helicopter landed in Rankgul village. After that,one-hour car transfer to the camp followed. The base camp is quite comfortable, keeping in mind that it is located at 4050 meters. There are two mud houses: one for the guides and the other one for the hunters. The house has a large hall way, three twin-bedded rooms, dining room and a kitchen, also a small sauna.

Next morning was spent checking the guns. The hunters had two.338 LapuaMag rifles and one .300 WinMag. In the second part of the day,our hunting team explored the hunting grounds. Russian 4x4 vehicles are used to drive around the territory. If a group of animals is located, the nitis fully examined with a spotting scope, and then the guides make a decision whether it is viable to approach the rams. The rutting time and lack of the snow added the adrenaline buzz: the sheep stayed at the tops of the small mountain groups. All trophies were well deserved with the muscle loading: long trudges up and walks of 1000-2000 meters, which is very demanding in Pamir altitudes. Sometimes the hunters had to climb up to the altitudes of 4500-4600 meters.

The prescouting made by local guides allowed one of the hunters to bag his dream trophy in the same first day. As a result, 3 fabulous Marco Polo rams were harvested in 4 days: 151 cm (59,5inches), 156cm(61 inches), 161 cm (63 inches). 3 more trophies of Mid-Asian Ibex with the biggest one of 121 cm were also shot by the group.

The results surely inspired for another trip to Tajikistan. And of course the hunters will return again and again – and amass a collection of Tajikistan species. The lessons are learned and foretaste is great!

Yury Morozov

Dear Hunters!

The Stalker Team would be very glad to meet you at the upcoming international conventions in USA. We are looking forward to talking to our old friends and making new ones in the resplendent Las Vegas. See us at the 12th Annual Hunter and Outfitter Convention of the Grand Slam Club/OVIS and at Annual Hunters’ Convention 2017 of the SCI.

The Grand Slam Club/OVIS Convention dates are January 25-28, our booth number is 306. The SCI Convention will be held on the February 1-4, booth number of Stalker Group is 6133. You are very welcome to come up and discuss the hunts, chat with our guides and enjoy the show time! And don’t forget that it is you, our favorite challenging routes and extreme trips enthusiast, the best and rear trophy collector, who shall find what you are looking for within our offers, whether Gorgeous Marco Polo Argali or Breathtaking Tur, Exciting Ibex or Graceful Chamois, Impressive Brown Bear or Awesome Moose.

Just turn the wheel and Stalker machine starts to work for you: visas, hotels, tickets, meeting at the airports, transfers on the earth, by water or by air, camps, professional field managers, interpreters, trophy field care, all necessary trophy export/import documentation. And when the hunt is finished and dream trophy is taken, Stalker takes the full responsibility for your trophy until it is shipped to its new home. We are proud to help you to conquer new continents and new countries, to expand your horizons and to get the invaluable experience.

Let’s meet in Vegas!