I was back on track for my third try, this time in mid-December, well past the November rutting season when the large rams suddenly appear out of the hills looking for mates. The rut is typically the best time for a large and mature ram to be spotted, but in mid-December, one could still find some of the rams hanging out with the ewes.
Five years later, as soon as the ban was lifted, it was time for a second shot! This time around, Mr. Mostofi had secured a permit for another mountain range much further to the Northeast within three hours drive from the city of Mashhad. This area is world-famous amongst sheep hunters for producing some of the largest horns in the past 25 years.
I still remember the day I saw the picture. It was in an old copy of a hunting magazine. I was 12, and the instant I saw it, I was fascinated by the curve of the ram’s horn. There was Mr. Riahi, the head of the Iranian game department posing next to a giant Urial ram.
The temperature had dropped and there was a layer of frost coating the top of the bag. I crawled out under my bivy tarp and stepped into the night, struck by the magical mountain scene before me. The full moon was shining over an ocean of clouds. Mountain peaks emerging through the gleaming white clouds like hundreds of little islands.
It’s early September and the deer hunting season has just opened in Ireland. I eagerly await to be joined by my hunting colleagues at the entrance to the forest. Light coloured fumes from the Landrover Defender are billowing into the night sky. In the distance, I hear the faint whistle of a Sika stag.
Cover and water and Chukars are found in deep canyons and mountainsides but where valley bottoms flatten into rich grasslands, the leg-weary hunter’s game eye switches to California quail, Ring-necked Pheasants and Hungarian Partridge. Just when the tired hunter seeks the shade of willows or spruce trees, they may flush Ruffed and Blue Grouse.
The yearly ritual of receiving “unsuccessful” notifications from various states’ draw systems is not something I look forward to, but to a certain level, it is something I have come to expect. This year after receiving the familiar news, my good friend asked if I wanted to join him for a fall moose hunt in Alaska.
The weather was forecasting for six days of West Coast downpour, estimating approximately 500mm over the course of our ten-day trip. Despite this, we were still keen to take the 20km hike up to the valley hut in anticipation of a few breaks that were sure to promise phenomenal hunting opportunities.
The year was 1973. At the age of 12, I accompanied my late dad and uncle to the newly opened wildlife museum in Tehran to see the mountain sheep collection. Amongst the many mounts of Transcaspian Urials, Bezoar Ibex, and other native species, there were two large-bodied rams with extraordinarily massive heads that resembled mules. These were the Argali rams of Mongolia and Tajikistan.