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GSCO Hunt Report May 2014

Alfred L Wynn
1426 Crosswind
Blanco, TX 78606 USA
[email protected]

Hunt Details:
Species: Mid -Asian ibex
Date taken: 11/29/2013
Location: Kyrgyzstan, Tian Shan Mountains near Engilchek River in Issyk Kul province
Outfitter: Stalker Group
Guide: Evgeniy Kharitonov

Highlights: This hunt was a last minute replacement for my September Gobi ibex hunt that was cancelled by the Mongolian government. It turned out to be the best hunt of my six trips to Asia---not the largest trophy but, the best mountains, guides, camp, stalking---an unforgettable horseback adventure! I am getting ahead of myself. It started in Houston where I met for the first time my world-famous hunting companion, Bob Speegle. We would be hunting out of the same base camp in Kyrgyzstan and were travelling on the same flights to Istanbul and Bishkek. I heard many of his stories over the next ten days that are so colorfully captured in his book, A Hunting Life. I feel very fortunate to have shared so much time with a living legend from our sport.

We were met at the Bishkek airport by our two Stalker Group guides/translators Evgeniy and Vadim and by our local outfitter Tatyana of Tour Khan Tengri. Her son would be our driver for the next 8 hours as we made our way by van along the northern shores of Lake Issyk Kul to the resort city of Karakol. There we obtained our hunting license and special security permit to hunt along the Chinese border. We changed drivers and vehicles for the next leg of the journey---another six hours via a 4 wheel drive Russian-jeep type van into the Tian Shan Mountains. The van was slow and underpowered but highly capable off-road. We traversed narrow side hill cuts and almost a lunar landscape near an abandoned Soviet granite mine and factory. We arrived at the resort Jay Loo which would serve as our base camp at around 10 PM.

Bob and I would be the only hunters in camp and we were treated royally by the entire camp staff throughout our visit.

We sighted in our rifles the next day and then saddled up for a short spot and stalk ride in the afternoon. I made one short stalk after a good ibex but could not close the distance for a shot. We awoke early the next morning and split into two groups. Bob would hunt with Evgeniy and 2 local guides. I would hunt with Vadim(Russian guide) and 2 brothers Jeidar and Jergal(local Kyrgyz guides). It was minus 10 degrees F when we set out on horseback for a 5 mile ride up the Engilchek River . We were dressed for the occasion. Bob’s group split off after 2 miles and we went on upstream for another 1 ½ hours. My fly camp was an old abandoned hut that had been built by a field team of geologists decades before. The hut had a stove that burned cow chips for warmth and for making tea and soup. After unpacking the horses and setting up camp, we spent the afternoon glassing for ibex. We saw hundreds of animals but no trophies on the first day. It was a very cold night and we started the hunt early the next day. We saw several trophy animals this day but were unable to close for a kill. On the following day we spotted the huge herd of ibex from the day before, but, this time there were shooters with the group and so a stalk began. Jeidar and I put on snow camo to climb down thru a snow field along a frozen river bed. Footing was treacherous especially on the frozen stream bed where I fell and slid downstream but was unhurt. We spent 3 hours on the stalk and by the end of the stalk our bedded billies were headed upslope. We had hoped to close on them before they left their beds but the stalk took too long. Our first shot opportunity was at 350 yards with the animals moving up and away from our river bed hiding spot. The best trophy was the darkest one and easy to pick out. I had the 300 Weatherby zeroed at 300 yards so I held about six inches high. I had a good solid prone uphill rest. I squeezed off a shot. The whack of the bullet was clear and the animal went down but got right back up and took off running. I fired a second shot at 400 yards at the running animal and he rolled over and over down a steep hillside. Everyone cheered and celebrated---I thought I had just made the most fantastic running shot of my 50+ years of hunting. We climbed up the mountain thru the rocks to the kill. It took a long time to get there. By the time we got to the kill, Vadim and Jergal had brought the horses down the mountain. We took photos, caped and butchered the animal, but, there was only shot in the ibex. The first shot had been a good one and the animal happened to expire just as I fired the second shot. What looked like a great running shot was not that at all. I was thrilled with the trophy and the hunt. The ibex scored 105 1/8 SCI with a 41 inch longest horn.

We loaded the horses and made our way back to the fly camp where we had dinner and drank our last bottle of vodka. A real adventurous horseback ride ensued. We rode down river for 5 miles in the dark. We led our horses across the frozen river several times. We rode with no flashlights to keep from blinding our horses---you could barely see the shadowy figure of the rider ahead of you as you moved thru the darkness. We arrived at base camp at about 10 PM and the celebration began again. Bob had also killed an ibex despite taking a bad fall on the ice. The next day was spent preparing capes and skulls. We then took two days to get back to Karakol and Bishkek. The scenery along the way was goregeous as before. In Bishkek, we put Bob on the plane to Budapest to begin a chamois hunt in Slovakia. I returned to Texas with my trophy via Istanbul.

This was my favorite hunt in Asia. I liked the style of the hunt, the horses, the guides, the people, and the beautiful Tian Shan Mountains. My thanks to Stalker Group for my third fantastic hunt with their team. I hope to hunt with them again someday for a Marco Polo in Kyrgyzstan.

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Rating Stalker Group 5.0
based on 142 reviews

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