Most hunters who travel to the Caucasus Mountains seek the three subspecies of tur found there. I already have the eastern and western varieties of these unique wild goats, but I was so intrigued by the steepness and difficulty of hunting the Caucasus that I wanted to return there. I did so this past October; instead of hunting tur, however, I wanted to take the Caucasian chamois, the Mid-eastern red stag and a feral yak. Following this experience, I planned to take an Afghan urial in nearby Tajikistan, one of the few places where this species can be taken at present.
I booked the hunts through Bob Kern of The Hunting Consortium (540-955-0090; www.huntcon.com), who arranged for me to have my favorite guide when hunting in Russian-speaking countries, Sergei Tishkovich. Tishkovich has guided me a half-dozen times throughout this region. We enjoy one another’s company, and it’s always good to meet up with an old friend whose dogged determination is to help you get a good trophy.
I flew via Delta Airlines direct from Atlanta to Moscow, and on arrival I took Aeroflot to Mineralnye Vady, near the Russian border with Georgia. I hunted in Karachayevo-Cherkesiya, a Russian republic at the western end of the Caucasus. Despite the recent armed conflict in this region, I saw only occasional checkpoints and some troops, but I did not experience any real obstacles during my entire hunt.
Hunting a feral yak in the Caucasus is a little bit of an unusual request, since most are taken in the Himalayas. However, because wild yaks are completely protected under CITES Appendix I, it becomes problematic to secure permits in destinations where wild yak populations exist, such as Tajikistan or China. I had seen many of these animals in the Caucasus on previous hunts, so my thinking was that it would be a good place to get this species, since yaks are not known to be native to the Caucasus and therefore there are no truly wild yaks there to confuse the issue.....