First time tur hunting: What to expect?

According to the classification of the international hunting clubs, three different species of Tur inhabit Russian Federation: Kuban or Western Tur in Karachaevo-Cherkessiya, Mid-Caucasian Tur in Kabardino-Balkariya and Dagestan or Eastern Tur in Northern Ossetia. For the hunter planning to get his first Tur, the question might be where to start. The answer is simple: start from wherever you like and get the species you like most. All of the Tur hunts and of these hunting regions are equally demanding and tough. Let’s discuss what makes the Tur hunt in Russia so special. The hunting itself is basically a classical mountain hunt with all its pros and cons. In this regard, the Tur is not much different from other mountain ibex and sheep species. Now, the level of physical demand highly depends on the exact area where you plan to hunt. In Russia, the horses are rarely used for mountain hunts. When getting ready for the Tur hunt, it is better not calculate on having a horse for transportation around the area – be prepared to walk your miles. Mostly, the horses are used only for a short distance transfer through the valleys, and then you have to climb up the mountain, using small paths. Only in some areas, the terrain allows to ride up the slopes on the horseback. In the large majority of the hunting areas you will have to climb yourself and carry your belongings up to the camp. The mountains here are bare cliffs, and it is simply hard to feed and water the animals, and nowhere to hide them to avoid scaring away the wild ungulates. Therefore, here comes the first hardship: get ready for long walks and carrying your riffle and your bags. In order to prepare your body for this type of hunting, do not oversell your physical condition. You need to start to workout purposefully at least 10-14 days prior to arrival. The workouts need to include intense running and climbing with a backpack of 10-15 kilo (20-35 pound) weight. The hunter needs to get the legs and lungs fit for the monotonous trudges up in the mountains. The early workouts also allow you to get used to the mountain boots in case you’ve got a new pair. Your boots must be well broken in; otherwise, there is no use at all to come for this hunt.

While getting physically fit, you also have to think about your equipment. We have already started to discuss the boots. Well, they need to be the real mountain boots, high enough and suitable for long trekking. Your footwear needs to protect your feet from the sharp rocks and snake bites up in the mountains, hold well onto wet grass after the rain and stay dry in the morning dew. Gore Tex technology sure works well.

It is quite warm in the region during the most part of the hunting season: August and September. In sunny days the temperature can rise up to 30 C (86 F). However, during the night it can drop below zero (30 F). That is why we highly recommend you to dress in layers and take moisture wicking underwear with you. A warm sleeping bag for -5 -10 C (14-23 F) will be useful. Don’t forget that a lightweight packable Gore Tex rainwear is a must. Heavy showers lasting for 1-2 hours are highly unpredictable and can happen at any moment. That is why it is important to have easy rainwear in your backpack. After the rain stops, the mountains dry very fast.

Remember that you will carry all your belongings set for 3 days on your own back. Choose an appropriate backpack. You might want to bring your own lightweight tent for the flycamp overnights. It is advantageous to take 8x30 or 10x40 binoculars with you. A spotting scope will be of great help, also, allowing saving time when judging the trophy size of the animals. The locals rarely have good optics with them – do not disregard this point and make sure you know what you aim at. A headlight and an extra pack of batteries is a must. The hunt itself starts before the sunrise. You start trekking well before the light and return to the camp in the darkness. It is very dangerous to walk in the mountains without your personal light.

Food on camp is rather primitive – due to the fact that everything has to be carried to the mountains, no fine cuisine to be expected. So, please consider bringing some sport snacks or energy aid drinks with vitamins and balance electrolytes if you like those. The water in the mountains lacks many minerals and doesn’t satisfy thirst.

The altitudes of hunting areas are no more than 3,500 meters (11.500 feet). If you are prone to the mountain disease, do not forget your Diamox pills. Again, keep on drinking water and sport drinks – dehydration is one of the reasons of heavy mountain sickness. Keep your eye on snakes – check with your stick before you sit on the stones. GPS device can sometimes be helpful in the mountain fogs – you might even sometimes help your guide to find the way.

Don’t forget your sun hat and sunglasses at home. The insolation level is very high. Sun block cream will save your skin.

Now, to the hunt itself. The fly camp is usually located in a recess. In the evening, your guide will prepare the route ensuring that by 5-6 am you get near the grassing turs. If for some reason it proves impossible to get close while the animals are grassing, then your main goal is to spot the place where the turs go for the daily rest, at about 9-10 am, in order not to lose the animals. It is basically impossible to approach turs on rest. You will have to wait until the evening comes to try your chances once again. After it gets cooler, the turs will return to the feeding spot. Another important factor is the wind, which changes all the time in the mountains. So do not allow your trophy to smell you. After the afternoon, the wind direction can change and the air will move downwards from the mountains.

Remember: you need to listen to your guide and be ready to shoot. Be ready for the long distance shots. If the terrain allows to hide using stones and accidents of the ground, you can get as close as 150-200 meters. Do not rush! It is also important to avoid talking, as the sound of human speech can be well heard from a long distance in the mountains. Prior to your hunt, discuss your own interaction system with your guide. Maybe you will prefer to use your own fingers or small stones on the ground, to point out which of the animals in a best trophy. Try to think about different situations. For example, how would you understand that a third Tur to the left is the oldest billy? The tur is a tough animal; however, the .300 Win Mag works great with a good shot. Get ready to shoot to kill. After falling down at first, the tur can easily jump up and disappear in the mountains, loosing you a great trophy. They tend to hide in the tiny cracks in the mountains, and it is very hard to track them by blood. There is no need to place brain shots; a shoulder shot will work well enough. What you need to do is to surely immobilize the desired trophy.

Other important thing to discuss with your guides is your safety in the mountains. Watch your step and always follow your guides. These people were raised in the mountains and they know each pathway here. Sometimes they will tell you to step on the exact same stone – do not neglect their advice. Caucasus Mountains have plenty zones with rockslides and loose rocks. Make sure you don’t twist your ankle.

Also, think about your trophy. It is essential to tell your guide in advance how you want your trophy to be treated – whether you want a shoulder mount or a full mount – your guide needs to know that before skinning the animal. While down in the valleys, remind your guide to take enough salt with you to treat the skin. In the hot weather, the skin is ruined within just several hours. Keeping all the above said in mind, take your time to prepare for the hunt and do not hesitate to ask the Stalker Team for advice in case you need any kind of additional information. We will gladly provide it for you, and do our best to make sure your hunt goes smooth and pays off with a great Tur trophy.