Marco Polo Sheep Facts
Hunting Marco Polo sheep is a very high altitude endeavor.
Generally hunting camps are located around 10,000 feet above sea level, with the actual hunting taking place at elevations up to 15,000 feet or more. Acclimatization, or adjusting to altitude, requires special techniques and medication. Experts recommend really taking it easy the first few days at altitude, and for the duration of the hunt, drink plenty of liquids and take prescription medication Diamox or generic form Acetazolamide, 250 mg tablet each morning and each evening. And a couple 200 mg Ibuprofen tablets each morning and evening as needed will help with headaches and sore muscles.
Marco Polo sheep are usually hunted using small, sturdy, surefooted horses, especially in Kyrgyzstan. Be sure that you pack a rifle scabbard in your hunting gear, else you will spend many days bouncing around in the saddle with your rifle slung on your back, and this is definitely not comfortable. Hunting in Tajikistan is done a using Russian jeep called Bigfoot so no scabbard is needed there. It is recommended for hunts in both countries that you pack a white camo outer garment as most, if not all, of your hunting will be done in snow.
Experts recommend calibers of .270 Winchester or higher, with some of the belted cartridges such as 300 and 338 magnums being ideal. Only rifles capable of good long range accuracy should ever be considered for this hunt. Hunting terrain in Kyrgyzstan, and especially in Tajikistan, consists of very high and wide alpine valleys separated by mountain ridges. Rams are often spotted in locations where it is impossible to get real close, forcing the hunter to make shots of 300 to 500 yards or more. Considering that a wounded and lost ram ends the hunt, practice as much long range shooting as possible before leaving home.
Permits and Licenses
Marco Polo sheep are CITES trophies, requiring a great deal of permit and license preparation be done before a Marco Polo hunt can actually take place. Kyrgyz and Tajik guides must purchase a hunting licence for every individual hunter they take afield, and they must insure that every US hunter’s name is on the Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan List of Official Hunters which is sent to US Fish & Wildlife each spring. Each US hunter must then apply for an Argali Import Permit costing $100 from US Fish & Wildlife Permitting Office. Finally, after a ram is actually taken, the Kyrgyz or Tajik guide must secure a CITES Export Document and a Veterinary Certificate.
In order to harvest and import a Marco Polo trophy into the United States, four different licenses or permits are required:
- Hunting License
- Cites Export Permit
- Argali Import Permit
- Veterinary Certificate.
Where to Hunt, and Who to Hunt With?
Marco Polo sheep are found in Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The war in Afghanistan precludes hunting there at present, and China closed all hunting to foreigners several years ago. Now only Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are viable choices for this hunt. Kyrgyz Marco Polo hunts are cheaper than Tajik hunts, done at slightly lower elevations, and result in somewhat smaller trophies as a rule.
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