Hunting in Pakistan
The landscape of Pakistan ranges from lofty mountains in the north, the Karakoram and the Himalayas, through dissected plateaus to the rich alluvial plains of the Punjab. Then follows desolate barrenness of Balochistan and the hot dry deserts of Sindh blending into miles and miles of golden beaches of Mekran coast. The country borders Iran on the West, India on the East, Afghanistan in the North-West, China in the North and the Arabian Sea in the South.
Nowhere in the world there is such a great concentration of high mountains, peaks, glaciers and passes except Pakistan. It features 5 out of the 14 summits that soar above 24000 feets on the face of the earth. 40 of the world’s 50 highest mountains occupy the northern part of the country, where three of the mightiest mountain systems meet: The Hindu Kush, the Karakorams and the Himalayas. This land of geographical splendors is also endowed with the rarest animals in creation, some of which are indigenous specifically to its spectacular mountains. Here live three different species of Markhor, four separate types of Urial, as well as two subspecies of Ibex, Marco Polo Argali and Blue Sheep. Markhor hunts can legally be done only in Pakistan, as it is the only country for which the CITES agency has legalized importation of trophies into the EU states and US.
The region was a crossroads of historic trade routes, including the Silk Road, and was settled over thousands of years by many groups, it is often referred to as “a museum of races.” The people with typical costumes, folk dances, music and sports like polo and buzkashi provide the traveller an unforgettable experience.
We recommend to get vaccination against poliomyelitis prior to your arrival to Pakistan.
Large Markhor. The coat is long and coarse in winter, though with very little underwool, and is much shorter in summer. The male’s ruff is long and flowing. Typically, the horns of Astor Markhor flare very widely just above the base and have one to 1-1/2 twists, with the first turn being very large. They are massive and spectacular, though usually not as long as those of Kashmir Markhor. Most horns within the distribution range of Astor Markhor are of this type; however, horns of Kashmir type with less flare and more twists are also seen. Heads from Baltistan, for example, are of a type between Astor and Kashmir. The best horns of record were taken in Gilgit in 1907 and measured 60-3/4 inches (154.3 cm) (Rowland Ward).
Overall color varies from reddish-buff to yellowish-brown. Rump patch and underparts are white, the face a bluish-gray. Rams have a white bib, long black neck ruff and a small black saddle spot in the winter coat. The horns are homonymous, triangular in cross section, and strongly wrinkled. The longest recorded horns measured 41-1/2 inches (105 cm) (1909). Amongst countries which allow hunting, this is the region which has the finest trophies.
Shoulder height up to 30 inches (76 cm). Weight up to 80-90 pounds (36-41 kg). Similar to the Afghan Urial, but smaller, with a lesser bib and neck ruff and no distinct saddle patch.
A big male will stand 40 inches (102 cm) at the shoulder and weigh 200 pounds (91 kg). Coat is thick and woolly in winter, being shed in early summer. Color is very variable, ranging from pale brown to dark brown, with a darker dorsal stripe and often a lighter saddle patch and whitish neck patch. Generally darker in summer than in winter. When compared to other subspecies of Ibex – Himalayan Ibex appears stockier and sturdier. It is generally agreed that a bull with over 40 inches of horn length is a good trophy and that anything over 43 or 44 inches is excellent.
Himalayan Blue Sheep
Himalayan Blue Sheep
Adult males are strikingly handsome animals with a slate blue coat in winter. It is offset by white legs and belly with conspicuous blue-black stripe down the forepart of the shanks and another horizontal stripe dividing the white belly from the grey flanks. In summer the under wool is shed and the fur becomes reddish-grey in color. Compared with Chinese Blue Sheep, the body size is 10-20 percent bigger and the color is darker. Facial mask is a darker brown. There is much black on front of neck and chest, and the black lateral band is wider and almost joining the dark chest patch. Horns grow outward horizontally, with little downward curve, then turn backward with the tips inclined upward. In cross section they are rounded throughout their length, with only the frontal-nuchal edge sharply defined.
Large Markhor with massive horns that usually are the longest of the species. Shoulder height up to 40 inches (102 cm). Weight as much as 225 pounds (102 kg). The coat and ruff are similar to those of the Astor race. Typically, Kashmir Markhor horns have slight to moderate flare with 2-3 spiral twists. Most horns within its distribution range are of this type. Trophies average between 38 and 42 and fine ones of up to 45 can be found.
Handsome sheep, with a redder coat than other urials. Males have a white bib and a long black neck ruff in the winter coat. Most Punjab Urials have a narrow, two-colored saddle patch (black in front, white behind), but in some individuals it may be all white or absent entirely. The rump patch, belly and lower legs are white and there is a dark, narrow stripe between belly and upper body. The horns are cervical, curving tightly in some animals and less so in others.
Smaller Markhor with a comparatively short body. The coat is short, coarse and thick in winter, short and smooth in summer. The male’s ruff is much shorter and less conspicuous than in the northern races. The horns are straight, forming two to three complete spiral turns that can have either a tight twist resembling a corkscrew or a more open twist of the Kabul type. The average size expectation should be around 70-75 cm (28″-30″) for Markhor and thanks to good number of population and excellent management, trophies up to 85-90 cm (32″-35″) can definitely be expected.
Shoulder height 29-37 inches (74-95 cm). Weight 100-200 pounds (45-90 kg). Differs from the typical Bezoar by being paler in color and somewhat smaller in size, and in having horns that are closer together at the tips and either without knobs on the front keel or with only a few small ones.
The animals are found in sugarcane plantations and areas of grassland along the River Indus in the State of Punjab and the Northwest Frontier Province. For European boar hunters Pakistan is a paradise for their sport.
Balochistan Province in west central Pakistan
Balochistan Province in west central Pakistan (Torghar Hills)
The trophies are Suleiman Markhor and Afghan Urial. The climate of the area compared to some other areas in Pakistan is drier and clearer. During December and January the temperature is around +6 to +12 C (46-54 F) at day time and a bit cooler at night. Snow fall is a rare occasion but when it happens the temperature may fall below zero. All Suleiman Markhor hunters should be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions.
Northern areas (Gilgit, Skardu and Astor regions)
Here you can hunt for Himalayan Ibex, Astor Markhor, Himalayan Blue Sheep. Altitude: 3000-3500 meters (10000–11 000 ft.) During December and January the weather may be around +2 to +5 C (35 to 40 F) on a sunny day. When windy it may go down below zero C (32 F). Therefore a late season hunt for this specie may be advisable as the weather will warm up a bit and become more favorable by early spring.
Northwestern mountains of the Hindu Kush
Northwestern mountains of the Hindu Kush (Chitral Valley)
Kashmir Markhor is hunted here.
Altitude: 2745-3050 meters (9000–10 000 ft.). In winter temperatures in the area will be as low as –10 to –15 C (5-14 F) with possibility of snow and rain. You need to be well equipped.
Provinces of Punjab and Sindh
Provinces of Punjab and Sindh (valleys of Indus river)
Hunting for Wild Boar is organized in these regions.
Depending on the terrain of your hunting grounds, your hunts could be on grassy plains, along the rivers, irrigated plantations, block forests, thorn bush forests, cane grass, crop fields, small hills, moorlands, river islands, sugar cane fields, wild canyons, foothills and mixed good lands.
The hills of Dureji
The hills of Dureji
Here one can bag Blanford Urial and Sind Ibex.
Сlose to the Indian Ocean at an altitude of between 200–1800 meters (1500-3000 feet). Temperature can be 5-10 C (41-50 F).
Markhor is a comparatively low altitude animal and is known for its intolerance of snow & cold and its habit of migrating in the mid-winter to lower elevations. So its living range at that time of year varies between the altitudes of 2500-3000 meters (8200-9850 feet). In order to have a good hunt and to obtain a respectable size trophy, one needs to be in good physical shape. Be prepared for long hikes starting with the first light until a Billy with desired horn length is spotted. Suleiman Markhor and Afghan Urial hunt is organized between the altitudes of 2300-2800 m (7500-9000 feet). Area can be hunted directly from the very well situated hunting lodges. Sometimes a short drive (30-45 min) to the heart of the area might be needed.
Blanford Urial and Sind Ibex
Blanford Urial and Sind Ibex
The hunter takes a short ride of about 30-40 minutes in comfortable 4×4 trucks every morning to get to the hunting area. Since the animals are in good numbers, it does not take long before the first bands of rams or billies are spotted. It is possible to harvest both trophies within a few days while staying in a very comfortable camp.
This hunt will not require a lot of climbing. From November to end of January Ibex are within relatively easy reach. A good quality sleeping bag is recommended.
Himalayan Blue Sheep
Himalayan Blue Sheep
Himalayan Blue Sheep hunt is done by stalking. This mountain hunt demands gameness and stamina. Trucks are used for transportation to remote hunting areas.
In order to have a good hunt for Kashmir Markhor and to obtain a respectable size trophy, one needs to be in good physical shape. Be prepared for long hikes starting with the first light.
At times short walks to the individual shooting position have to be undertaken, however, in most cases the hunters are driven by cars or jeeps quite closer to their assigned shooting positions. This permits even the older hunters to participate easily. Since boars are reckoned as pests in Pakistan & their population is plentiful, there is no maximum bag limit set by the government.
You will need to arrive at Islamabad International airport.
- Himalayan Ibex, Astor Markhor: Once the rifle handling is done in Islamabad airport, hunters need to fly from Islamabad to up north to the town of Gilgit (app. 45 min flight). We usually book this domestic flight for the hunter. Sometimes, when the flights do not operate due to bad weather conditions, then there is no way but to take a long ride (14-16 hours) up to the Northern Areas of Pakistan. Expect 9 day trip and 5 day hunt.
- Suleiman Markhor, Afghan Urial: After landing in Islamabad airport and finishing all the formalities, hunters need to fly from Islamabad down to Quetta. The area is approximately 6 hours drive away from the Quetta airport.
- Blandford Urial & Sind Ibex: After landing in Islamabad airport and finishing all the formalities, hunters need to fly from Islamabad down to Karachi (1 hour flight). We book this domestic flight for the hunter. The hunting area is only 3-4 hours drive away from the Karachi airport. Expect 6 days trip and 3 days hunt.
- Kashmir Markhor: Upon arrival to Islamabad hunters have evening drive to Peshwar and stay overnight there. The flights from Peshwar to and from Chitral are subject to weather conditions and therefore we advise to allow 3–4 days as buffer in the event of flight cancellation. Unfortunately the road to Chitral is snow bound in winters. Plan 9-12 days trip and 4 days hunt. There is also an option of nonstop flight from Islamabad to Chitra.
- Punjab Urial: While hunting Punjab Urial, from Islamabad you are transferred to Kalabagh. Overnight at the Rest House and start your hunt. Plan 7 days trip and 4 days hunt.
- Blue Sheep: After finishing all customs formalities in Islamabad, hunters are transferred to the hotel and stay overnight there. Next morning they fly to Gilgit. In case of flight cancellation they drive to Chilas, then to Gilgit. After that two day of stalking to Shimshal Village. Plan 10-12 days trip and 5 days hunt.
- Wild Boar: After landing in Islamabad you fly to Dera Ismail Khan, Dera Ghaza Khan or Rahimiar Khan and drive to camp and begin your hunt. Plan 7 days trip and 4 days hunt.
Depending on the species you hunt and the hunting region the accommodation may vary from the superb guest houses and best hotels to comfortable camps and to the simple shepherd huts or even caves. At any case we strive to make your hunting comfortable.