If I were you I’d use BSC for something like that. Neil will definitely have good honest advice and guidance for you.
Talk about a cluster, mostly from my end.
First advice, book the direct flight through Alaska. When I did it I was pinching pennies due to some unforeseen personal expenses at the time, and flying direct through Alaska was like $1,000 more expensive than flying the long way around through Moscow. I don't know why. But I chose the cheap long way (also partially because I wanted to go through Moscow and see the old Red Menace from the air) and it ended up killing me. There were storms in NY, delayed my flight there, and I ended up missing my flight to Russia. Got that ironed out, but they lost my gear bag in NY. So I had the clothes on my back and a rifle. (fortunately I did plan for this, so my binos, a coat and very light raingear were in my carry on. And I was wearing Kuiu pants and my hunting boots. One pair of hunting gear and one pair of boots is NOT enough)
To top that all off, I didn't sleep much over there because of worry over flight rescheduling, and I didn't sleep for something like 36 straight hours. That ended up getting me sick, and I was sick for the first two days of the hunt. Which was great fun
I had to buy what was probably blackmarket .300 RUM shells in Russia. For $300 american for 12 rounds.
No one over there speaks English. And signs are not in English. So be prepared to be LOST.
My hunt was a raffle win.
THe hunt translator ended up hunting with another American, so I spent 10 straight days with 2 guys that had 30 English words between them. Take books!!!! I'm not the type to get lonely, but I got lonely :) I think I'd have been less lonely by myself to be honest. I also did not take a satellite phone, and I wish I had.
The guides did not have quality optics. Take your own!
Be prepared for weather. 10 days of hunting, we were completely weathered in for 6 of those days. Partially weathered in for an additional day.
I did not see a ram in 10 days. The other guy there killed a ram the first day in the fog at like 50 yards by luckily bumping into them. Then killed a brown bear from camp the second day.
I'm a picky eater. THe food was not great. I went off my feed and lost weight drastically. Some of the food was inedible from my standpoint. Like canned beef with clumps of congealed fat stirred into plain white rice. Sorry, I'm a wuss, couldn't do it. I did shoot a ewe sheep for meat. It would have been good with proper cooking and spices. One guide would cut a bite of rib meat with his knife, while chewing the meat he would lick the end of his knife and stick it into the shared bowl of salt, and lick that off. Then repeat. . . .
I had packed Mountain house and some energy bars and snacks in my gearbag. . . . which spent the whole trip in the NYC airport.
I never felt unsafe in the country. I felt unsafe on some of the terrain at times. Just lost because I couldn't communicate.
Time moves different there. Not a lot of urgency. I met American hunters while leaving at the hotel, that had been stuck in the hotel for 10 days waiting on a flight because they missed their flight home because they didn't come in from the field on time.
Horses. . . . I used to be a horse guy, the little russian ponies scared me spitless. Half broken. The saddle was a pack pannier with a thick coat strapped on top for a seat, and stirrups with stirrup leather that was made in the 50s and about to wear through. And the trails were some of the most technical trails I'd ever been on. And my horse was foundered and had sore feet and wasn't shod. We went places that if the horse had fallen I would have been a dead man. 4 horse rides totalling 28 miles and I was scared the whole time. Again, I'm a horse guy and love them and used to ride a lot on tough trails. Nothing like this. . . .
One guide before first horse ride points at me, and pantomines riding a horse with a question. I said yeah, I've ridden before. He says "Gud, zees horse. . .. ehhhhh, moostang" F'ing great
All that said. I'd book it again today if I could afford it :) It was an adventure
In the words of Sarah Palin about seeing Russia from her house would be close enough for me. Not interested in being with Russians on a space lab either. We should have listen to Patton !
Spiral Horn's Link
Send me a PM with your phone number and I’d be happy to discuss my hunt with you.
It’s a very important word for dealing with bureaucracy, difficulties and disappointment. It basically means “nothing” as in “it’s nothing” , “it is what it is”, “it doesn’t matter”.
If you can’t adopt a bit of fatalistic acceptance for inefficiency, lack of organization, crude amenities and questionable sanitation, you may want to look elsewhere.
And Bake’s knife-licker’s manners tend to slide further with the addition of vodka.
It’s a country of extremes. You also run the chance of encountering some of the most generous and genuine people you’ve ever met.
Russia is a brutal, romantic, philosophical contradiction wrapped in a dichotomy.
Regarding the vodka. . . . I don't drink. And in the high camps they didn't have water. They drank tea like it was water. Which was fine. I like sweet iced tea. I'd drink it hot, then I'd leave some out to cool and have sweet iced tea. Fine. If I went back, I'd take a water purifier. They didn't want me drinking straight from the streams. That's why they'd boil the water for tea
But I got back to low camp and found a case of water and downed like 12 bottles in 2 hours. I figured they got the hint when the head guide came in and handed me a water bottle with the seal broken and said "Waka" (or that's what it sounded like to me) which I took to mean water.
SO next time i was thirsty I uncapped that thing without thinking and took about 3 big slugs of pure vodka :) My cough went away that night though :)
Coming back through Moscow airport, I had the routine down. Pockets emptied, belt off, the whole deal. I walked through the metal detector and it went off. I gave a confused look, patted myself down, and shrugged melodramatically like I didn't know why. . . . the little Russian security lady just shrugged melodramatically back to me and waved me on through :) :)
One of the Druzhina, a Citizen Militia, stooped him, took his passport and wrote an essay inside, instructing any customs agent, upon his authority, to forever deny him entry to the Soviet Union because of his Western, wanton disregard for the wildlife of the people. It was chock full of insults and caught the eye of any Russian speaker that ever handled his passport. They almost all laughed heartily.
I still wish that I had that in my passport.
It is different you MUST look at the whole experience as an adventure and that you are dragging a bow around with with you for fun.
It will be a cluster, you probably will not hunt the days you think you will be hunting, you will pay bribes possibly for no good reason, if you are lucky you will have a translator that sort of understands english, no one will have a clue about bowhunting and will mess your hunt up BUT I assure you that you will laugh about the trip and the crazy BS that occurred on it for the rest of your life assuming you have a good sense of humor
While I agree that all who travel to Asia to hunt will witness stuff we westerners will have trouble wrapping our heads around, that just the way things are done there. Some of it is genuinely funny - for me it was the daily argument between the guides about what route to take on the mountain. Truly priceless, but I also left me having to decide to who to follow. Personally, I really liked my guides and they were fun to be with - only one spoke English but the others did there level best to communicate everything and they never stopped doing their best to get me on rams.
One thing is 100% certain. Anyone looking to hunt Asia needs to do their research and speak with other hunters who have gone exactly where they are going. There is a chasm of difference in the quality of operation between outfitters. One way to ensure a disaster is to find someone on the internet with the lowest price, or to take the advice from someone who reads a lot or has a friend of his favorite uncle who went 15 years ago.
I will note that if you have not gone to NZ for Tahr that should be your first destination, Everything about that hunt is amazing and you can do it relatively inexpensive.
If looking for a great initial hunt I’d seriously recommend Beceite Ibex in Spain. Still relatively affordable, a challenging but doable bowhunt, impressive trophy, other species available, great food and culture, and warm people. Neil at BSC offers this hunt and I know the outfitter he works with — top notch.
I expect Neil with Bowhunting Safari Consultants would know the particulars. If he doesn't try Clark or Sasha at Safari Outfitters in Cody, WY.