It is impossible to describe argali sheep without using superlatives.
Argali is the largest, the most magnificent and the most desirable sheep trophy. Argali inhabits the most remote parts of the world, making travel from North America to the mountain ranges populated by argali very long and tiresome. The mountains are spectacular, rich with wildlife, including ibex, wolves and snow leopards.
The larges, the best known and the most numerous among argali sheep is Marco Polo. There are seven subspecies of argali sheep, some isolated. Several subspecies of argali, including Littldale, Karaganda, and Karatau are very rare and are protected. Sergei Shushunov and Russian Hunting LLC. offer hunting expeditions to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for the Tian Shan and Marco polo argali.
Tian Shan argali
Ovis ammon karelini
(Argali del Tian Shan, Karelini Argali, Argali du Tian Shan, Tien Shan argali)
DESCRIPTION & TAXONOMY
Tian Shan argali category is divided into two races: heinsii and karelini. The karelini was described from the Ala Tau range north of Lake Issyk Kul in northeastern Kyrgyzstan and southeastern Kazakhstan, and eastward in the Tian Shan range in Xinjiang, China.
It is similar to the Marco Polo, but it’s horns have a tighter curl and are generally thicker. The winter coat has light brown upper parts that lighten gradually to the diffuse, grayish-brown rump patch. The yellowish-white belly is separated from the flanks by a wide dark line. A dark dorsal line runs from shoulders to loins. The neck mane is white, shaded with grayish-brown. The record head was reported as picked up (1921) in the valley of the Yuldaz. Its longest horn measured 70-3/4 x 15-1/2 inches (179.7 x 39.4 cm), which is much larger than any other karelini of record.
The Tian Shan range, from southeastern Kazakhstan and eastern Kyrgyzstan eastward to about Urumqi in Xinjiang. Boundaries with the Marco Polo argali to the south and west are unclear.
This hunt is offered in Kyrgyzstan. The hunter has to be in reasonably good physical condition. Horse riding skills are important, since riding a horse can greatly improve mobility. The hunt takes place at the altitudes of 3,000 meters (10,000 ft.) and higher. Any flat shooting cartridge in 7 mm Mag. to 300 Mag. Range is fine. Shots are expected at 250-500 meters (270-550 yards). It is necessary to bring good quality mountain boots, warm clothing, and a sleeping bag. Later in the season hunters should use white camo cover. The sual duration of the hunt is 10 days. As a rule, the trophy is obtained on the first 5-7 days of hunting.
August 15 — December 3
Marco Polo argali
Ovis ammon polii
(Argali de Marco Polo, Marco Polo Argali, Pamir argali)
DESCRIPTION & TAXONOMY
Marco Polo subspecies consists of two races, polii and humei. Humei is similar to polii in body size and coloration, but its horns are shorter, heavier, and have less flare. Humei is found to the north of polii in southeastern Kyrgyzstan and far western China. Marco Polo argali is a large, long-legged, light-boned argali with the most spectacular horns of all the world’s sheep. The summer coat is light, speckled brown, with the face, chest, underparts, rump patch and legs white. In winter, the upper parts are somewhat darker brown and there is a full white neck ruff extending to the brisket. The winter hair is much longer, making the animal appear larger and heavier than it is. The long, slender horns are homonymous, forming 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 open spirals, and triangular in cross-section. The longest sheep horn ever recorded is 75 inches or 190.5 cm
The eastern part of the Vakhan (or Wakhan) Corridor in Afghanistan; the Pamir Plateau in eastern Tajikistan; extending north into southeastern Kyrgyzstan south of the Naryn River; and the adjacent Pamir (Tagdumbash) region of far western China. The northern limit for the Marco Polo argali is the Naryn river.
This hunt is offered in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. There are substantial differences between hunts in these countries. Kyrgyzstan: trophies are on average smaller by 5 to 6 inches, hunts take place at elevations of 10,000 to 12,000 ft., horses are used 100% of the times, hunts are much less expensive. Tajikistan: larger trophies, elevations are between 13,000 and over 15,000 ft., horses are rarely used, hunts are expensive. Very high elevations in Tajikistan at which the best trophies are found make it hard for the majority of hunters to place good shots. The hunter has to be in reasonably good physical condition to hunt in Kyrgyzstan and in top shape to successfully hunt in Tajikistan. Any flat shooting cartridge in 7 mm Mag. to 300 Mag. Range is fine. Shots are expected at 250-500 meters (270-550 yards). It is necessary to bring good quality mountain boots, warm clothing, and a sleeping bag. The duration of the tour is 10 days. As a rule, the trophy is obtained during the first 5-7 days of hunting, leaving an opportunity to hunt ibex or wolves.
August 15 — December 3
Visit Sergei Shushunov Russian Hunting Agency site for more information on hunting argali sheep