As a big game animal, Bezoar ibex ( Capra Aegagrus Aegagrus ) rank up there with the best and is one of the most sought after trophy animals in the hunting world. Although Turkey is a host to a big variety of game animals, the biggest attraction of Turkey for a big game hunter has always been the Bezoar ibex.
For more than a period of three decades, Turkey has hosted trophy hunters from all over the world, who were in pursuit of this elusive animal and today is considered to be the number 1 destination available for Bezoar ibex hunting. Availability of Bezoar ibex hunting in Turkey for foreigners started with one single area back in 1981. Capra Aegagrus which had been safekeeping at the Antalya-Duzlercami protection area since 1964 reached a sufficient population to allow hunting tourism to be opened. Over the following years a few areas were added but the major changes came in recent years as some of the finest parts of the country that have never been hunted before was made available to trophy hunting.
Being spectacularly beautiful, with long sweeping scimitar shaped horns that grow up to 50’’ or even bigger in extreme cases, It is considered by many to be the best looking of all the ibex family. The current SCI world record for this species was collected by Caprinae Safaris client in 2007 which measured 57 3/8 inches (146cm) along the keel and scored 133 SCI points. 50 inch (127cm) horn length with most ibex has always been considered to be the magic number – an exceptional trophy. Although many of our Bezoar ibex clients collected 50 inch plus trophies over the years, ibex of this caliber is getting scarce and thus are hard to find these days. An ibex hunter’s realistic expectation for a good area should be 44 inches (112cm) and over. While many good, prime areas can produce Bezoar ibex in the 44 -50 inch range, the average size for most regular areas is around 40 inches (100cm).
Archaelogical eveidence show that Bezoar were the principal origin of almost all domestic goat breeds today. Another words Bezoar is the ancestor of all the domestic goat. In their stomach a hard dark-colored ball is found, bitter to taste, but of an agreeable smell. This is called Bezoar, and owes its formation to the fibrous nature of the substances on which the Bezoar ibex feeds.
By Turkish game regulations a legal Bezoar ibex can only be 8 years old and up. Any ibex smaller than this age limit is considered to be illegal to hunt and is subject to a penalty fee. This is a fully mature adult male although Bezoar ibex can live up to 14-15 years of age. The oldest Caprinae safaris ever collected was 13 years old.
SEASON & WEATHER
Hunting season for Bezoar ibex officially starts by early August and runs through the end of March the following year. However, as a general rule, we do not start hunting Bezoar before mid November since the temperatures will be high and the animals will stay high on mountain tops and/or in shaddy parts of the mountain. Most of the time in brush, in the woods or in caves where they can stay away from the bothering effects of sun. This cover also keeps them out of the sight of a glassing hunters. They will be hard to spot the only visible body parts of the ibex that is bedded down from long distances.
The rutting period for Bezoar ibex vary all depending on the lattitude and the altitude of the area. But in general, rutting season for the ibex starts by early to mid November in coastal areas and ends by mid December. In inner parts of the country this time frame is delayed by about two weeks time making it late November late December period.
The general opinion for the best time to hunt Bezoar ibex is to hunt them during rutting time in order to have a better opportunity on bigger trophies. Indeed, older animals come out of nowhere to join the female groups. Hunters may observe one of the most memorable sights of their hunting career during this period. Males fight to establish dominance and get opportunity to mate. They detect receptive females by the smell of their urine. Dominant male gathers harem composed of 5 to 15 females.
Adult males split into single-sex groups once the rut is over. Really old billies prefer to live solitary life while most of them gather in small bachelor groups. This also can be an advantage for the hunter since there is bound to be a desired size trophy Bezoar in the herd.
Weather conditions also vary greatly during the hunting season. In most areas the weather conditions can be quite nice until mid December. Although first snow may have fallen some time in November, this melts away quite fast. During the month of November, temperature can be in the 18-25C (65-77F) degrees range. Towards the end of December the weather conditions tend to change as the cold weather conditions can move in. Temperatures can drop down to anywhere around 10-0 (50-32F) Celcius. For the most Bezoar hunting areas, January and February can be considered to be the coldest time of the year. At times, temperatures can remain around and below zero Celcius during these months. By March day time temperatures start rising once again.
AREA & ALTITUDE
Bezoar ibex (Capra aegagrus aegagrus) is indigenous to a number of countries besides Turkey. It’s distribution includes Iran, Turkmenistan and Armenia as well. Some isolated pockets of Bezoar in the neighboring countries can also be observed. It is known that Chechnya (southern Russia), Georgia, Azerbaijan and northern Irak are known to hold some kind of Bezoar ibex population although current status of these populations remain unknown. Since Iran has not been stable as a hunting destination, Turkey has made a reputation to be the best hunting destination for Bezoar ibex. In Turkey, Bezoar widely spread along the Taurus range that extends from western Mediterranean all the way through east. Different populations are also found in almost all high mountain masses of eastern and northeastern Anatolia. There are over seventy different areas in Turkey where Bezoar ibex hunting is allowed for trophy hunting and the number can grow as the game department open up new areas at times.
Like any other wild goat, Bezoar ibex is a dweller of steep terrain and generally inhabits the alpine zone of the mountains. But since steepness has got nothing to do with the altitude, Bezoar also occurs even at low altitudes along the Mediterranean coast. It is possible to find them at any elevation between 5000 to 11,000 feet (1,500-3,300m).
ACCOMMODATIONS & HUNTING METHOD
Accommodations differ from one area to another. While in some areas it is possible for our hunters to be accommodated in the best nearby hotels or village houses, in others, it has to be roughed by staying in shepherd huts or small hunting cabins. But due to common interest or demand, we started to accommodate our Bezoar hunters mostly in local hotels in recent years that are available in the hunting area. These hotels can vary anywhere from four star to less. However we make sure that, we pick the best one available near the hunting area, and hunters stay in clean and comfortable environments.
The household supply of electricity is at 220 V in Turkey. Majority of the hotels have internet connection and wi-fi for their customers. Meals are served either at the hotel or can be taken in restaurants out of hotel.
As each area has its own characteristics, the ways the hunts are carried out also vary, but as a general rule, the hunts are almost always conducted on foot. 4-wheel drive trucks are used to transport the hunters to the hunting areas. These short trips between the hotel and the hunting areas can take as long as an hour or as short as 15 minutes. A regular hunting day starts at a very early hour of the morning, most of the time even before day break.
Any hunting activities in Turkey has to be observed by a game guard according to Turkish game regulations. So there is always a game guard to accompany the hunting party throughout the hunt. Their main purpose is to make sure that everything is done by the book. But some of these individuals know the areas and the animals so well that they can be realy asset to the hunt. In addition to a local company guide, we always provide one of our Professional Hunters as well who also act as the interpreter. Our PHs are reliable people with extensive hunting experience and they are good judge of trophy size. Our local guides as well can also help evaluating the trophy size. They have a good knowledge of the hunting area and the animals.