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Hunting for a Gissaro-Alai ibex in Tajikistan


Trophies Mid-Asian Ibex (Capra sibirica alaiana), taken in Tajikistan

Trophies Mid-Asian Ibex (Capra sibirica alaiana), taken in Tajikistan
Date of hunt 21.01.2021
Region of hunt
Place of hunt
Tandykul River Valley
Nasreddin Musoev
Hunt difficulty Very hard
I'd been planning to hunt for a long time for a second subspecies of ibex, habited in the Gissaro - Alai mountains of Tajikistan. They are located to the north-east from Dushanbe and separate Tajikistan from Kyrgyzstan. The hunt was organized not far from the town Jirgatal in 280km from Dushanbe. It took us about 4 hours’ drive. The hunter Nasridin Musoev and his son Sharofidin met us there. We accommodated in the home of his elder daughter. We didn’t have much time, as always. There was just one day of good weather and the forecast promised snow in a day. On Thursday at 7.30 am we left the house and moved to the gorge of the Tandykul river where we expected to find ibexes. A heavy snowfall had happened in the mountains in a day before our arrival. It modified the animals’ behavior and the hunting process. The mountains at that area were really steep more than 3000 m high, we could see lots of signs of snow avalanches. The animals prefer to stay in less snow-covered places where they can feed and there is not risk of avalanches. We went about 5-6 km along the gorge monitoring the slopes and looking for ibexes. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any ones except females. Nasridin told us that the ibex population wasn't high there because of the poacher's pressure. Coming back, we examined the gorge where the groups of ibexes with two good size males were detected few days ago. We were able to detect them in a deep and difficult-to-reach area. The day wore along, and the second one didn’t bode anything good. That's why we decided to climb and to hunt. Probably it was one of the most difficult and dangerous climbing in my life. Deep snow, steep slopes and tracks of snow avalanches made the ascend so dangerous. We were almost biting into the rocks in several places not to fall down into the snow abyss. There I understood, why all local hunters wore the rubber boots which almost flew around the rocks and provided the best grip on the surface. My mountains boots slid and didn't provide high-quality grip on the stones. The temperature, about -10 degrees added extreme to that adventure. It took us more than 2,5 hours to climb from 2200 m to 2700m. We reached the rock which separated one part of the gorge from another one where the ibexes could be. There was not another variant to approach animals, a deep canyon split us. The guides detected the group of females and two males. The shooting distance was 645 meters. One male stood at full height and sideways, what allowed me to make a good shot while I could see only the breast of the second one. I resolved to fire though my position wasn’t comfortable. There were no other variants because we knew about coming snowfall and my chances to find the new trophy was very low. I hit the ibex by the first shot and it fell down into the deep abyss after flying not less than hundred meters. Telling the truth, I didn’t believe that we’d pull it out but Sharofidin and his assistant assured me that they could descend to the bottom of the canyon. We had nothing to do but to go down and it wasn’t an easy matter.