When my friend, Clay Lancaster, asked me to join him on a spur-of-the-moment trip to Turkey to hunt bezoar ibex at a never-to-be-repeated price, I was completely unprepared but just couldn’t say no.
I arrived in Turkey a couple of hours ahead of Clay and his friend, Dave, who flew in from Canada. After a quick lunch, we were off to Akseki, a town and district in the Antalya Province in the east of the Mediter- ranean country, where we were to stay in a small hotel. Hunting in Turkey is very regulated to benefit its communities, and quite often hunters won’t stay in the same area they hunt. This is to share the benefits of the industry among struggling villages.
At 4am the next day, I awoke to the call of the muezzin at the local mosque. We departed for a nearby village to meet the game scouts and the local guide for our hunt. Once all assembled − quite a large party that included my guide, interpreter, two local guides and two game wardens – we drove down to the valley where our hunt would begin.
Turkey had experienced the heaviest snowfalls in a decade. Unfortunately, we would not be able to hunt the prime area which, with snow two metres deep, was simply inaccessible on foot. Luckily, most of the north-facing slopes which still held patches of deep snow were access- ible, though somewhat treacherous. We drove through the valley bottoms and glassed the surrounding mountain slopes until we spotted a suitable herd of ibex. Then it was time to shoulder our backpacks and rifles and start the long and arduous climb, hopefully to get within shooting distance.
The mountains in Antalya are the steepest and most boulder-strewn I have ever encountered. Climbing them constitutes a feat of mountaineering skill and grit, and we had to steel our nerve to begin the ascent. Mingled with the constant sense of danger was the supreme sense of awe evoked by some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable.
However, we were in for a nasty surprise when we neared the summit of the range, for we discovered that the path to the peaks was impassable due to deep snow. In order to access new areas we would have to continually descend and ascend barriers of mountains.
Read the full article in the November 2017 issue of Magnum.