December 1/17. After many failed attempts over the last 2 years to get back to Iran, I was finally able to put together a trip with Iman Najmeddin owner of Nature Explorer. This was my third trip to Iran and I was finally able to get an Esfahan Mouflon permit. As of today the only permits available are for Esfahan and Kerman Sheep and Persian Desert Ibex on privately leased land. None of the government run reserves have reopened yet, but it is looking good for 2018. The area we hunted was north east of Yazd City in area they call Zard Kooh which means " Yellow Mountains ". According to Iman there has always been Sheep there, but the numbers were very low due to no management, after lots of work on the part of local businessman and conservationist Abbas Sharfi and people like Iman they were able to significantly increase the number of Sheep over the past 7 years to allow a couple hunters per year. On the first day we found a group of 20 sheep with one good ram in it, but from the distance it didn't appear to be an old ram so we decided to keep hunting hoping we would find an older ram, as the rut was full on. We hunted hard for 3 days and covered lots of ground by Jeep, motorcycle and hiking, each day we would see in excess of 30 Sheep but no old Rams. At the end of day 3 after a long climb the guys were able to find the large group that we saw on day 1, after a hour long stock and 1 shot we had the ram. It turned out he was only 6 years old which came as a surprise being he was the dominant ram of the group of 17 ewes. Over the course of the hunt we saw many groups of Persian Desert Ibex also and a few huge Billy's.
Obtaining an Iranian VISA and firearm permit was very simple compared to most countries that I've been too. The only big hassle we had during the entire hunt was getting through the domestic airport with ammunition, my spotting scope and 1 can of deodorant in my luggage. But with Iman's patience and perseverance , he managed to get everything through.
Aside from what the western media reports about Iran, it is an extremely clean, safe place to travel through and all the people I met were very friendly. Back in Tehran after the hunt I would go for walks around the hotel by myself and everyone would smile and say hello. Myself and fellow Canadian sheep hunter Lyle Wood are booked for the fall of 2018, so I hope Iran can keep moving forward with re-establishing the old traditional hunting reserves.
By Daryll Hosker