Snow Sheep hunting in Russia

 

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Introduction

The largest country in the world, Russia constitutes one-seventh of the world’s landmass and spans eight time zones. This expansive area allows it to neighbour more countries than anywhere else on earth, as well as touch twenty-two bodies of water and hold twelve seas within its borders. Its vast and complicated array of landscapes has created a diverse blend of forty national parks alongside its forty UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. Here you can find the oldest mountains in the world, the Urals, and the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal. Travel from the tundra to the steppes, from the desert to the glaciers, from the valleys to the volcanoes without ever needing a new visa.  Because of its size, Russia presents a drastically different atmosphere depending on your location. Most of the country has a continental climate with distinct periods of warm and cold weather that increases as you travel east. Temperatures for Moscow and St. Petersburg range from highs of 32 C in summer to lows of -25 C in winter.

320 mammal species and about 730 bird species inhabit Russia. Hunting is allowed for about 60 mammal species and 70 bird species. It is this country where you can find the fabulous Snow Sheep, also called Siberian Bighorn. 5 different species of Snow Sheep can be hunted in Russia.

A visa is required to visit Russia. It can be obtained at the nearest Embassy or Consulate.

Hunting season


Okhotsk Snow Sheep: August
Kamchatka Snow Sheep, Koryak Snow Sheep: August-September
Kolyma Snow Sheep, Yakutia Snow Sheep: August-October

Trophy

Kamchatka Snow Sheep

Kamchatka Snow Sheep

Color is grayish-brown or grizzled. The white rump patch is rather small and is divided by a dark stripe that continues down the tail. Muzzle is white, but the brown facial band, which so strongly characterizes the Verkhoyansk population to the west, is almost lost. Head and neck may show a varying degree of grayish-white. The horns protrude outward, around and down in almost 1-1/2 curls to perfect, unbroomed tips. The two longest-horned snow sheep of record are from Kamchatka, one with horns measuring 41.7 and 40.9 inches (105.9 and 103.9 cm), the other with horns of 41.7 and 39.5 inches (105.9 and 100.3 cm). These heads are superb, with the horns pinching close to the face, then sweeping outward, around and down in almost 1-1/2 curls to perfect, unbroomed tips.

Kolyma Snow Sheep

Kolyma Snow Sheep

Shoulder height 36-39 inches (91-99 cm). Weight 180-230 pounds (82-104 kg). About the same size as Dall Sheep and Stone Sheep. Snow Sheep have compact, muscular bodies and relatively short legs (compared with other Asian sheep) that are adapted to climbing precipitous terrain. The hoofs have cushiony pads that act as shock absorbers and grip on slippery rock. The coat is coarse and brittle, with each hair containing a sealed air pocket that serves as insulation. Hair texture is said to be quite different from that of North American Sheep, being thick and woollike and becoming very long and shaggy in winter. Snow Sheep have distinct rump patches, but do not have saddle patches, bibs or neck ruffs. The horns are homonymous, with the right horn growing in a right-handed spiral and left horn in a left-handed spiral, forming a tight curl of relatively small diameter. The horns are similar to those of the Dall and Stone Sheep of North America, being brown or dark amber in color, fairly heavy and quite smooth, and with the frontal-orbital edge forming a prominent keel.

Koryak Snow Sheep

Koryak Snow Sheep

Alike form of Kamchatka Snow Sheep, found further North in the Koryak Mountainsin mainland Siberia, above Kamchatka Peninsula. Very similar in coloration to Kamchatka Snow Sheep, the white muzzle and rump patch are not as pronounced. This sheep has shorter legs in proportion to the body than its southern cousin. Individuals found at the northern extremity of the Koryak Range, exhibit characteristics of Chukotsk Snow Sheep, which has a heavier, lighter coat, of soft, wooly hair.

Okhotsk Snow Sheep

Okhotsk Snow Sheep

There is a good deal of geographic variation in coloration and pattern, but essentially the summer coat is a light yellowish-gray that turns a grizzled grayish-brown in winter. Front of neck, shoulders and legs, dorsal stripe and tail are brown. Rump patch, belly and back of legs are whitish. Face, crown and back of neck are white, and a distinctive brown band crosses the face between eyes and nose. Soviet biologists report that typical horns measure 35 x 13 inches (89 x 33 cm). This race of snow sheep has the largest white area on the forehead of all snow sheep, as well as the largest body size – identical to Kamchatka Snow Sheep.

Yakutia Snow Sheep

Yakutia Snow Sheep

Same as Okhotsk Snow Sheep, although slightly smaller through most of its range, this sheep has less white on the forehead that Okhotsk race. This snow sheep is the most widely distributed. The horns are 33-36 inches (85-91 cm) long, sometimes more. The horns are a bit shorter and less heavy compared to Kamchatka Snow Sheep.

Hunting Territory

Kamchatka

Kamchatka

Trophy: Kamchatka Snow Sheep, Kolyma Snow Sheep, Koryak Snow Sheep

Kamchatka is located at the north-east of Russia. It is bounded by the Bering Sea of the Pacific Ocean from the east and by the Okhotsk Sea from the west. The nature of the region is very varied: snow-covered mountains with glaciers, sugar loaf mountains by the sea, softwood forests and leafy forests, large forest tundra and tundra areas and deep-frozen soil to the north. There are thousands of rivers and lakes. Kamchatka is the region of volcanic action and has about 300 different volcanoes, 29 of which are active. Consequently there are a lot of geysers and hot springs etc. The climate is harsh. Kamchatka has long showy winter and short cool summer.  Fall is considered to be the best time to visit Kamchatka, it lasts from August to October. It is a short period mostly without winds and rains. The average temperatures are 46-50 F (8–10 °С).

Magadan region

Magadan region

Trophy: Kolyma Snow Sheep

The Magadan region is located at the north-east of Russia. It is bounded by the Okhotsk Sea and Pacific Ocean. The territory is covered with tundra and forest tundra. Mostly all area is within the deep-frozen soil zone. Kolyma Range makes up a big part of the territory. The highest peaks are about 7500 feet (7300 m). The climate is harsh with long frosty winter and cool summer. August is the warmest month with the temperature of about 60 F (15 C), it goes as low as 26 F (-3 C) by October.

Khabarovsk region

Khabarovsk region

Trophy: Okhotsk Snow Sheep

Khabarovsk region is located at the Far East of Russia. The area is mostly covered with mountain ranges. It is bounded by Okhotsk and Japan Seas. There are a lot of rivers and lakes in the region. The forests make up to 1/2 of the territory. The climate is moderately monsoonal with cold winter and warm humid summer.

Yakutia

Yakutia

Trophy: Yakutia Snow Sheep

The Yakutia Republicis is located at the north of the Eastern Siberia. Over 1/3 of its territory is situated within the Polar Circle. Mountains make up over 2/3 of the area. It is bounded by the Laptev and East Siberian Seas. There are large rivers and over 700 lakes in the region. The climate is extremely continental. Winter is long and harsh, summer is short and warm. The forests cover about 4/5 of the territory.

Hunting

Kamchatka Snow Sheep

Kamchatka Snow Sheep

Horses are used for transportation around the hunting area. Once the trophy animal is located you continue your stalk on foot. The hunter should be fit because this is a demanding hunt. Snow sheep inhabit hard-to-reach areas and old trophy rams prefer the most secluded places. Good weather is a very important factor.

Kolyma Snow Sheep

Kolyma Snow Sheep

Mostly you hunt by stalking, searching the animal in the mountains. You will be transferred by the helicopter to the mountains from the base camp. Accompanied by professional guide you will look for your desired trophy.

Koryak Snow Sheep

Koryak Snow Sheep

Hunting is by spot-and-stalk at about 1950-2950 feet (600-900 m). The hunter needs to be fit. You might need to walk up to 6 miles (10 km) per day. The mountains though are not as steep as in Central Kamchatka.

Okhotsk Snow Sheep

Okhotsk Snow Sheep

As with other snow sheep, the hunter needs to be prepared for the real mountain hunt. The helicopter will transfer you to the hunting area from the base camp. Sometimes the motorboat can be used for transportation around the area.

Yakutia Snow Sheep

Yakutia Snow Sheep

The hunter accompanied by the guides is transferred to the mountains by the helicopter. As a rule 3-4 days of good weather allow to bag the desired trophy. Hunting is by foot, spot-and-stalk.

Route

First you will need to arrive to the capital of Russia – Moscow. After finishing all custom formalities you will proceed by domestic flight to the hunting region.

  • Kamchatka Snow Sheep: Domestic flight from Moscow to Petropavlovsk (9-10 hours), then short flight to Palana (2,5 hours). Then you will be transferred to the hunting area by a cross-country vehicle. Plan to spend 15 days in Russia with 9 day hunt.
  • Koryak Snow Sheep: Domestic flight from Moscow to Petropavlovsk (9-10 hours), then short flight to Tilichiki and helicopter transfer to the camp. Plan to spend 13-15 days with 10 day hunt.
  • Kolyma Snow Sheep: Domestic flight from Moscow to Magadan (about 8 hours), then helicopter transfer to the camp. Or domestic flight from Moscow to Petropavlovsk (9-10 hours), then short flight to Palana (2,5 hours). Then you will be transferred to the hunting area by a helicopter. Plan to spend 15 days in Russia with 9 day hunt.
  • Okhotsk Snow Sheep: Domestic flight from Moscow to Khabarovsk (about 8 hours), then short flight to Okhotsk, then helicopter transfer to the camp. Plan to spend 10-12 days.
  • Yakutia Snow Sheep: Domestic flight from Moscow to Yakutsk (about 7 hours), then helicopter transfer to the base camp.  Plan to spend 11 days with 8 days hunt.

Accommodation

  • Kamchatka Snow Sheep, Koryak Snow Sheep, Kolyma Snow Sheep, Okhotsk Snow Sheep: Tented camp with separate tents for shower and dining. There is an electric generator in the camp.
  • Kolyma Snow Sheep in Magadan region: Base camps are wooden houses. Tents are used in the mountains.
  • Yakutia Snow Sheep: Tented camp. Also spike camps can be used.

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