For several years, I have been wanting to go and visit the country of Turkey, several friends of mine kept telling me that it was a fantastic place to visit, but it seemed that I would have another trip planned, so I kept postponing it. I have been attending the SCI convention for the last 16 years and finally in 2014 my wife and a group of friends met at the convention in Las Vegas, as we are walking around all the booths, finally my friend Miguel and I decided to book a hunt in Turkey, we talked to Volkan Gokalp from Safari Tours, it was our second time talking about the trip as last years convention we met him as he came highly recommended. We pretty much connected right away as he was very honest and fun to talk to.
As we are talking and told us about the dates that he thought were good for us to go, we realized that for both of us was our wedding anniversary, so he told us to bring our wives as it would be a nice experience for them. So, we decided to book. Our wives were pretty excited as we were going to make not just a hunting trip, but also touring around the country of Turkey. As we were in the convention I called another friend of mine, Moises and asked him if he would be interested to come along with us as we have been hunting together in several occasions. Right away he agreed to come with us, as he has also been wanting to go there and would make a great trip for his wife as well.
As time went on, we got closer to get all of our flights and itinerary put together, we got all our rifle permits, airline tickets, etc. pretty much a month before departure, my friend Miguel decides to cancel the trip due to work complication. I was a little disappointed, but we were still going no matter what.
The day finally came and left to Istanbul. We arrived on Saturday the 22nd of November. We spent the first three days visiting the city, it was amazing. I really think it is a very interesting city, the Bazaar, the Mosques, people, architecture, the history, etc… we had a great time. The plan was for the 4 of us to tour the city for the first 3 days, then Moises and I were going to leave to separate hunting areas for a 5 day hunt while our wives were going to travel to
Bulgaria. We left to the hunting areas early morning, Moises took a flight to Kayseri which it was about 1:30hrs flight from Istanbul and I took a flight to Erzurum,a 2:30hrs flight. Volkan the owner of Safari Tours met me at the airport as he was going to guide me during the hunt. We arrived to Erzurum, got our luggage and clear the rifles, so we were on our way to base camp, we drove about 3hrs to get it. Base camp was pretty nice, and the staff was very attentive and excited to have us there. We went to shot my rifle to make sure that everything was fine. I have been shooting the same rifle now for more than 10 years, Lex Webernick owner of Rifles Inc.
Built my light weight .300 RUM and I just can't say enough great things about it, it is just amazing. I just had Lex to change my scope couple of months before the trip for the new Z6 Swarovski with the custom turret that can be adjusted up to 1000 yards. Everything was fine, so went back to camp relax and got ready for the hunt. At camp we had wifi so Moises and I were able to communicate via Whatsapp, he got to his camp earlier than me, so he was able to go and hunt the same afternoon, he was really excited as he got to see some ibex, but somewhat far, that did not give him time to get to them.
Finally the first day of hunting, we left base camp and drove for about 45 minutes to the hunting area. We got to see a couple of ibex, it was pretty exciting, but they were not mature and also about a mile away, we spent all day glazing in hopes to see a good trophy, but did not happened. Drove back to base camp and Mosies and I started to chat and he tells me that they saw several groups of Ibex, but were not able to get close enough and that in most of the groups were at least one or two mature trophies. Where in my case, did not see pretty much anything but a couple of very young ibex.
Next morning, we drove to a different area also within 45 minutes from base camp, we spent several hours glazing and we got to see an Ibex at the top of the mountain across from the one we were, according to Volkan and the guide was about 105 cm, so they said it is not mature enough and that we can get something better, Weather was cold, windy and got some snow the night before, the whole day went by and got to see nothing else. Drove back to camp and was a little disappointed, but did not worry as we still had 3 full days left. When we arrived to camp, again start to chat with Moises and he is telling me all this amazing things, that they saw so many groups of Ibex with mature trophies, and in one of them got to see a really big trophy, he was so excited and I was not at all. I went to bed and just hoping to see more game the next day.
The next morning which it was Friday, drove to the areas we were the first day, weather was not good, again windy and some drizzling. My guide spotted some nannies and start looking around to see if we get to see the male as we were pretty close to the rut season, several hours went by and nothing, we moved to another area and hike for a while to the top of a mountain, we sat and start glazing on a valley, about an hour went by and Volkan moved me and tells me that there were three ibex about 450 yards, and to be quiet, finally got to spot them as they were coming out of the timber line, my heart beat just start rising and got so excited to see this magnificent creatures, as I am getting ready, Volkan tells me that they are not that big, maybe 100 cm, even smaller than the one we saw the day before. He tells me that on this area we can expect to see 115 to 120 cm and to just wait.
Thru my hunting career, traveling to 6 continents and harvest over 100 trophies of different species, never have cared about hunting for the biggest or looking for records, I just have been very fortunate and lucky to harvest great trophies. To me, the most important above all, is the experiences that you live on each one of this trips, in my opinion, very few people in the world get to experience what we, as hunters get to experience, the scenery, food, people and their culture, etc. I personally feel very blessed to be able to do all this.
So, we are heading back to camp and just thinking if I should have just taken the shot and try to get that 100cm ibex, but still we had 2 more full days. Once we got to camp, I am trying to contact Moises and did not hear back from him, so we had dinner, then I heard a message coming on my phone, and it was Moises, he sent me a picture with his Ibex, I was really happy for him, we started to chat and he tells me that they saw again several groups and that had a hard time to choose which one to go for, and all is going thru my head is that I couldn't believe we haven't seen anything that was worth going for. It was great timing for Moises as he would relax the following day and head back to Istanbul and wait for the wives to come back from Bulgaria. Our plan was to hunt the 5 days and be back on Monday December 1st, as we had planned to travel to the city of Efessos and on Wednesday December 3rd to Capadoccia, staying there for three nights and come back to Istanbul to catch our return flight home. So I asked Volkan if it was possible to move to the area were Moises was hunting and he tells me that he would try, the problem was that he needed to change the permit with the government officials and we had the weekend coming and they were closed as it was already Friday night. He spent hours trying to solve this with his office staff and finally he tells me that we can, but that we will hunt the following day which it was Saturday, if we did not get anything, we had to fly back to Istanbul on Sunday morning to catch the flight at mid day to Kayseri, which it was the area where Moises was hunting.
I was very excited about the whole thing, with the exception that I was going to miss part of the sightseeing and also to celebrate my wedding anniversary with my wife. I couldn't thank enough to Volkan about all he was trying to do, he even told me that I could extend my hunt as he did not have another group coming. This is when you can appreciate booking your hunts with very reputable outfitters as Safari Tours. Despite the fact that the hunt was not going as I wanted, we were making the best of what we had going on, I am a big believer that you have to have a positive attitude at all times regardless of what is going around you. We were having a lot of fun, laughing, joking all the time, we spent time with the local people that lived on the mountains, they were always so generous, they will bring us tea and some food from their homes, in one occasion, one of then brought us some kind of blue cheese that it was amazing, he had it on a clear plastic bag, it was so good, that we
exchanged it with some of our can goods. All we were missing was a good bottle of wine to go with the cheese and the amazing scenery of where we were. We went to bed and I felt good about the whole thing overall, mainly as I already had more days available if I had to take them. Got up early on Saturday and we head over to the hunting areas, the weather was not good at all, windy, cold and fog. We couldn't see much, so we had to wait on the car for a while, finally we got out and start hiking, time went by and got to see some nannies and that was pretty much it, later on that afternoon, we went back to base camp to get ready to leave the following morning to the other hunting area, I sent some messages to my wife and basically told her that I was not going to see her as the connection flight from Istanbul to
Kayseri was only couple of hours, she was a little sad, but she knew how important was to me, so she just wished me good luck and that hopefully I can meet up with her soon. We took off to Kayseri and arrived early afternoon, this time we stayed at a pretty nice hotel in town and we would drive back and forth to the hunting areas. Got all my stuff ready and next morning I was ready and excited to get things going. We got to the hunting area really early in the morning, left the car in the beginning of a valley and we started walking, about 45 minutes, we started to see some Ibex, I was so surprised to see them, as I did not get to see much at the other hunting area, I kept seeing quite a bit of groups of ibex and all of them had great mature trophies.
We kept walking thru the valley and we saw some really close maybe with in 600 yds and looked to me as they were really nice trophies, so I would tap on Volkan's shoulders and he was smiling and telling me "too small let's look for a really big one" and to me, all I wanted is to get a nice one and get out of there, so I can join my wife and friends on the trip. As we are glazing and looking for more, the guide stops and sees a nice group about a mile away with a couple of mature trophies, then we saw another group at about 1000 yds with mature trophies as well, all I was thinking at that time, it was what Moises kept telling me that they had so many options to choose from, honestly when he told me that, I really was thinking that he was just exaggerating, but now I knew that it was so true. We decided to go after the group that it was 1000 Yds away, as we are hiking up the mountain, we stopped and Volkan started glazing and all I heard was "ohh, Wooowh" repeatedly... He asked the guide for the spotting scope, to get a better look. He
was so excited and turns to me and tells me to look at it, he tells me that is the biggest Ibex he has seen in years, it is at the minimum 135 cm maybe 140 cm. the guide also was very excited, the only problem is that it was about 1.5 miles away and at the top of the mountain, so I pretty much told him, "that's great, beautiful trophy!!, now let's keep going for the one that we were going after" (by now 700 yds away) and to forget about that monster. Well, that did not work!!
Volkan looks at me and tells me, "let's try to get close to the big one, there are a couple of more groups on the way", so I agreed and here we go, walk for about an hour and half, we spotted more on the way, but we were just focused on that unbelievable trophy, as we were getting closer, we noticed that the big one started to move further towards another group, it did not stop, we kept going towards him, but we never got closer, so that was it, we decided to go back and hopes that we can get to see him again the next day. We had dinner and just kept looking at him on video and some pictures, and just by looking at Volkan's face I could tell he was completely amazed of what we saw.
Next morning (Tuesday) we went ahead and got ready, went to same valley where we spotted the huge ibex, weather was not good, it was drizzling and foggy, we kept walking thru the valley and spotted some groups far, couple of hours later, we spotted the big ibex, he was at the very top of one mountain, there was no way to get to it, it was so steep and so far, that we just waited and see if by any chance would come down, hours went by and nothing, we decided to go ahead and see if we could find another trophy, so we continue hiking and walking, weather got worst, and nothing, we were so disappointed and tired, we walked back to where we left the truck and went back to where we were staying, not much to say that night.
Volkan tells me that I was more than welcome to stay until Friday, but that he could only be with me until Wednesday, as he needed to go to town and buy some new boots as his boots where all teared up and also he needed to go back to Istanbul to get another group, but that he was going to leave me with an interpreter and the guide, I was fine with it. I called my wife and told her the news, she was
also disappointed and sad, we were supposed to meet on Thursday to go all together to the area of Capadoccia and it was one of the places I really wanted to visit, as we kept talking, she tells me that it will be perfectly fine if we just meet in Istanbul on Saturday and leave from there back home, But we agreed that Thursday will be the last day I would hunt, they will fly from Istanbul into Capadoccia mid day, and I would drive from the hunting area into Capadoccia, as it was only about 1.5 hrs away, so that was the plan.
Next morning (Wednesday) same routine, drove to the area where we have seen the big ibex, left the truck and start walking toward the valley, weather was at its worst, windy, snowing, foggy, etc. we walked for a while, but we could not see much, pretty much the whole day went like that, early afternoon finally cleared up some, but it was till raining, we looked for shelter under a huge rock and stay there for hours, it was pretty miserable, cold, wet, hungry and no signs of any ibex around us, later on Volkan spotted some ibex and he tells me that they were not big at all, they kept moving towards us, before you know they got to be within 350 yds, I asked Volkan how big was the biggest one on that group, he says maybe 105 cm, possibly 100 cm, I just looked at him and told him, "should I just take him?" And he tells me no, that he prefers for me to come back in January and hunt again, I told him that I appreciate that, but coming back was not that simple, it is not like me flying to New Mexico from Texas, so I was really tempted to just take that ibex, but I didn't.
So, we started heading back one more time, got on the truck and drove back, called my wife and same story. That night, Volkan had everything arranged for me, for the last day, he introduced me to my interpreter and we were going to go back to same area. This time we asked the staff at the hotel if we could take some white sheets, we were going to use them to walk thru the valley that was full of snow and see if we could get closer to any group of ibex. We all went to bed early so we can leave a little earlier than normal. Thursday morning, here we go one more time to the same area, the moment we pulled to the area where we have left the truck the last couple of days, we go out and it was not looking good, weather was not so good, again little snow but foggy.
We started walking, about an hour later, weather started to cleared up, we started to glass all over, and we spotted one more time the big ibex, it was just as far as we have seen it in the past days, we out the white hotel sheets over us and started walking to the valley, we were getting closer and close, hours past and the ibex moved higher and we kept walking further than any other day, we saw some groups here and there, but no trophies. It was pretty much noon and nothing, and all I kept remembering it's what Volkan told me " patience it's the mother of all science" by then I really ran out of patience, I was desperate, but suddenly my guide decides to start hiking a moments across to where we have seen the big trophy, as we are heading up the mountain, my guide turned around and gives me a thumbs up, I have not seen him doing that during the whole hunt, he indicated me to stay closer to the side of the mountain, we stopped and got my binoculars and there he was, the monster ibex we saw the very first day, I ranged it and it was 580 yds, basically right on the mountain across from us, the moment that I took my back pack off and put it as a rest on a rock, the monster ibex decides to bed down, I got my rifle and set it on the back pack, my guide tells me to wait until he gets up again, I was so excited.
I ranged him again and now it tells me that it was 535 yds, but it was in the same spot, so ranged him again and it shows 580 yds, kept doing it over and over as my range finder kept giving me different distances, so I figure that there was something in between, I ranged next to him and it showed 570yds, so I am really sure that there was something in between. I get my rifle and set up the distance on my turret, which by the way, it was my first hunt with that new scope from Swarovski that Lex Webernick from Rifles Inc, put on my .300 RUM that he custom built for me several years back. Once I had the right distance set on the turret, we just waited. I just kept looking at him thru my binoculars and admiring such magnificent animal and I just thank God to put me in front of him, now all was on me I just kept breathing softly to calm my excitement.
I was still worried about the distance, so I figure that I will range him again once he gets up and can see the whole body. We waited there for about an hour, all of sudden, he gets up and shakes up the snow and with no time for me to range him, suddenly he takes off running after the nannies, I was about to just cry, I did not have time to put him on my scope or nothing. My guide indicated me to move up more, so here we are, climbing more so we can get to see better to where he moved, we got to another peak and my guide spotted him running after the nannies, I saw him and ranged him, by then he was at 585 yds, put my back pack on a rock again and just followed him thru my scope, he would not stop, finally h stopped for a few seconds and I just pulled the trigger, my guide tells me to shoot again, I hit the first shot right on, as he kept moving with one hit, I shot again and put him down and laid behind a big rock, so I could not see him at all.
I asked my guide and all he says its "kapoot" meaning he is down, I was so incredibly excited, but still could not see him, he grabs my rifle and pointed at him, and showed me, I looked in the scope and could not identify it, but he tells me not to worry he is down. We waited a little and started to go down the mountain, as we are going down the mountain my interpreter tells me if I wanted to go with my guide to where the trophy was down and told him that I would wait as I was in pieces and also I was going to slow down my guide, so my interpreter and I waited on my guide, about 2 hours pass and finally we get to see him coming back with my trophy, so I started to hike until we met. What an amazing moment to live, finally got to see that magnificent animal close.
My guide just kept telling the interpreter that for sure it has been the biggest ibex he has ever seen, we did not have anything to measure him, but my guide kept saying that it was at least 140cm. After we finished taking pictures, we started to head back to the truck, we were so far and we needed to get going, as it will get dark on us, when we were already down on the valley, the game guards meet us, and it was funny just to see their smiles and trying to measure the trophy, my interpreter tells me that they indicated that it has been for sure the biggest trophy harvested in the area since they have been working for the government. They decided to buried the trophy on the snow as they will come back the following morning to get it as we were not going to have time to skin it and get back to the truck with any daylight.
There was no daylight by the time we got to the truck, it took as about 4hrs to get back. Finally made it. I was in pieces, but incredibly happy, we were going to drive back to the hotel, pick up all my stuff and they were going to drive me to Capadoccia to meet with my wife and friends. As we are driving back and got some signal, kept getting text messages from my wife and Moises asking me if I had any news, well I replied back to them that finally we got my trophy and that it was a really nice one. They were so happy and ready to celebrate, so they were going to wait for me and have dinner all together. Got to the hotel, got my things and depart to Capadocccia, I did not even change clothes or nothing, all I wanted is to get back and see my wife and tell her all my experience.
As we got to the hotel Argos in Capadoccia, the staff looked at me and asked me if I was ok, I told them that I was great but really tired, they looked at me funny as I was wearing my hunting gear, they directed me to the restaurant where my wife and friends were waiting for me and we celebrated big time. They could not believe all I went thru. Had a great dinner and drinks, took a shower and went to bed as next morning we were starting our tour thru Capadoccia. Next evening as we are having some drinks I get a text message from Volkan congratulating me on my trophy and also to tell me that it was very possible that I just got the new world record Bezoar Ibex, it measured 147cm on the length of the horns. I was in total shock!! Could not believe it, I mentioned that to my wife and friends and we celebrated again. We are still pending on that as we will be getting the SCI to measure the trophy