I wanted to pass along to you notes on my latest hunting adventure. I teamed up with Safari Outfitters this summer and enjoyed a Dagestan Tur excursion in Azerbaijan. Clark Jeffs coordinated the hunt from June 8th to June 15th and made all of the travel logistics and reservations, gun permits, visas, and needed documentation. Having his guidance helped me breeze through all of the entry points, passport control, customs, and security checkpoints. I met up with Paul Pare from Stuart, Florida and we flew from Miami to Istanbul, Turkey. We had a layover in Istanbul and flew to Baku, Azerbaijan and met up with Sasha Kiselev from Safari Outfitters. Having Sasha meet us after we cleared customs was a pleasure. Sasha was with Paul and I for the whole trip and until we boarded the plane back to Istanbul.
We checked into a hotel in Baku as we were really tired from the long flights from Miami to Baku and got some much needed rest. The city of Baku is a very modern beautiful place located on the Caspian Sea. The next morning we had a big breakfast and made our way through the city of Baku and then started off on our journey through the countryside, hills, and the mountains. We drove about 250 miles toward the village of Shaki. Once we arrived at the village, we changed our clothes, stored our gear, and set off on horseback traveling up the river basin. We rode horses for a half day going back and forth across the river. We finally made it to our base camp just before dark and the clouds decided to open up and rain. Our base camp consisted of three two man tents and one old stone building. The bottom of the old stone building was our cooking and dining area and the guides bunked above the dining area. The elevation of our base camp was not too high about 4,000 feet, and we were surrounded by mountains. After driving half the day and riding horses for the other half of the day, it was nice to have some dinner and get some rest. The next morning we started out on our way up to spike camp, high up on the peaks of the mountain tops. It was nice traveling up the steep mountains on the horses. When we arrived at spike camp, you could feel that we are on top of the world. Our spike camp elevation was about 6,000 feet. Once we got settled in we started glassing for Tur. Paul and his guides spotted a group of large Tur and headed out across the mountain range to get a closer look at the large Tur. I was the lucky one as my three guides and I headed out straight up the mountain towards the top. It was one of those steep mountain peaks that keep going and going. We finally take a break just below 9,000 feet. My guides hunker down behind some large rocks and we glass for a couple of hours. We start seeing sheep just before 3:00PM and we put the spotting scope on them. It turns out to be a group of about 20 Tur. We watch them for a while as they are bedded down in the high rocks. We wait for later in the day when the wind is right and the Tur will start to graze over to our advantage point. As we are waiting my two assistant guides break out a deck of cards and start having a card game high on the mountain. In all of my years of sheep hunting, I have never seen this on the mountain and I start laughing to myself as they are really having a competitive card game. About 4:45PM the clouds start rolling in and we make a move to get closer to the Tur. We go straight at them and we are side hilling and then find a game trail and start running to seek out rocks as cover. We cut off about 500 yards as we get closer to the Tur. We hunker down behind some rocks and are waiting for some more clouds to give us cover. We close the distance another 250-300 yards. We cross some snow packs and go by a glacier waterfall and set up on a grassy spot over some large rocks. The Tur are up and feeding our way and we are heading towards the group. We are in position and are waiting for the group of Tur to appear. As we are watching there are now 50 Tur in the group with some big males. I use my range finder and we are 207 yards away. I get set for a shot and my guide tells me to take the Tur with the big bases. The Tur shift to the right and I try to find the big Tur in my scope. I can’t locate him as many of the Tur are moving in and out. My guide is getting excited and the Tur move up the hill and go to the left and continue to graze. I range the Tur at 271 yards and my guide tells me the one with the big bases is the second Tur from the right. I quickly locate the Tur with the big bases and wait for him to move further to the right and I try to get set as it now is a steep uphill shot at 271 yards. I squeezed the trigger of my TIKKA T-3 Light 300 Winchester Magnum, with 180grain Nosler bullets, and all of the Tur explode and run everywhere and the big Tur drops and starts to roll down the hill. The Tur stops rolling when he hits a snow pack. I shot a nice 34″ Tur with thick bases and a wide frame at 271 yards at 5:15PM on the first day. We take some pictures and the two guides start to cape out the Tur with the big bases. We hustle so that we can get back to spike camp before dark. Everyone is carrying a full pack as we are side hilling and mainly going down the mountain to the high alpine spike camp. Our group makes it back to the high alpine spike camp a few minutes after dark. I am glad to be back at spike camp and off of the peaks in the dark with a loaded pack. Paul and his guides are back at the spike camp as he also connected on a nice Tur. We celebrate the success of the day with a nice dinner. I hit the hay after dinner in my tent as I am tired from all of the climbing. The stars are out tonight and we get a great view of the sky from our spike camp high on the peaks.
The next morning, we gather our gear and plan to head back down to our base camp. It is a beautiful day and Paul and I just take in the awesome view that we have this morning and take a number of pictures. The hike back to base camp is a joyous one as we are gleaming from our success. We finally arrive back at base camp and tell Sasha the news. We collect our gear as we will be heading back to the village tomorrow. We enjoy a great Tur dinner and share stories. The next morning the sun is shining and we ride our horses back down the valley crossing the river back and forth. I really like riding horses in the high alpine. As I sit back and take in all of the steep mountains, my mind just takes pictures of this beautiful country.
Once we make it back to the village, we change our gear, say our goodbyes to the guides and drive back to Baku. In Baku, we relax and enjoy the sites of the city and we have a great dinner. Tomorrow we will fly back to Istanbul and back to Miami. I am thankful for another great adventure that I traveled over multiple time zones to have the opportunity to take a nice Dagestan Tur in Azerbaijan.
Richard G, Orlando, FL