Matisoni Sheep: Thought to be a hybrid of a Tibetan Argali and a Marco Polo ?
I had heard about a different Sheep in Tajikistan from good friend and professional guide Dmitry Borisov, who works closely with Yuri Matison,but it wasn't until talking with Seth Campbell about Mark Hamptons hunt that I decided to go check it out for myself. Tajikistan is one of the easiest countries to enter as a hunter, very simple to arrange a tourist VISA, firearm permit, etc. and the best airport VIP arrival and departure service I've ever experienced. There were no hassles with anything.
The drive from Dushanbe to Khorog was 12 hours, with some of the nicest scenery there is running along the shared border with Afghanistan. After spending the night at Alex's house on the river in the city of Khorog , Dmitry and I travelled another 5 hours to Yuri's new camp at 3800m(12,200'). The first day of hunting we hiked up one end of the mountain range to an elevation close to 14,000' and then worked our way along the top to a pickup point that evening, we saw 2 different groups of Rams, but all of the Rams were Marco Polo. Day 2 we saw different groups, each had 1 or 2 of the Matison type of Sheep in them but was hard to put a stock on due to the huge basins and flat tops of the mountain. Day 3 we got to the top of the mountain only to hear a pack of wolves below us, the local guide called them up to within 300 yards of us, I missed one and wounded the second. This same routine continued until the end of day 6 when we finally got on what seemed to be a decent ram at 285 yds. After checking him out and trying to age him we decided he was a mature ram and after a couple shots we had him. Everyone agreed that the body size and colouring seemed the same as a Marco Polo, but the obvious difference was the way they are broomed off, the outer sheath of the horn is gone to approximately year 2 or 3 and then they rub the tips off. Our ram was only 7 years old and of all the Rams we saw over the 6 days, we never saw any older ones. This was the most high altitude climbing I've ever did, so by the end of the 6th day I felt like I'd hunted 12 hard days at home.
As all the other hunts that I've done with Dmitry over the years, he had everything as perfectly organized as possible. Yuri's new logistics is to have all his hunters go through Dushanbe and take there trophies home with them, so we toured Dushanbe for a couple days while the paper work got done. This definitely cuts out all the hassles and expenses of having them shipped as in past years.
By Daryll Hosker