Kazakhstan’s Big Five Game

In Kazakhstan, you can set a personal record by bagging a Caspian red deer, an elk, a bear, a roe deer and an ibex, all in one superb hunting trip.

Kazakhstan has a diverse array of animal species, but only five of them are of interest to trophy hunters. Caspian red deer, Alpine ibex and roe deer are on the top of the list, with bear and elk coming in second. The most popular hunting grounds are located in the Almaty and East Kazakhstan Regions.

Trophy hunting in Kazakhstan means heading to distant wild areas, which has both good and bad aspects. The good include: the experience of hunting in a real wilderness, in unspoiled nature, with no active pastures in sight. The complicated travel logistics and the lack of normal comforts are the downside. However, trophy hunters are a sportsmanlike crowd and do not mind living in tents or yurts with minimal comfort. To them, game is what matters most.

There are over 600 hunting ranches in Kazakhstan, and 15 of them cater to foreign tourists who come to Kazakhstan for trophy hunting.

Demand for hunting depends on a multitude of factors. The decisive ones are game population, average trophy size, the condition of the hunting grounds and the logistics of hunting. These factors also determine the price tag for what is usually an eight- to ten-day tour package.

The Caspian red deer tours are concentrated in the East Kazakhstan and Almaty Regions. The West Altai  regions of East Kazakhstan have large red deer populations, but the game size rarely exceeds 10 kilograms. The average price of a tour is 2,000 euros. Further south, in Saur, red deer live in more mountainous areas. The trophies from this region are known to exceed 20 kilograms, which is why the price tag rises to 6,000-8,000euros.

Saur, especially the Zaysan hunting ranch, is a great place for red deer hunting, but you will have much less luck with bear, doe or elk. In a rare occurrence in 2015, the Black Uba game ranch recorded a bear trophy that measured 2.45 meters from head to tail.

The price range for an ibex deer hunting tour is within 4,000-5,000 euros. Ibex deer hunting is among the country’s most popular adventures, since the South Kazakhstani population of ibex deer is among the largest in the world. An ibex deer can weigh up to 120 kilograms, with the horn length reaching 150 centimeters across. A Siberian ibex is among the most coveted trophies for mountain hunting lovers. Ibex hunting is a ‘specialty’ adventure in Almaty and South Kazakhstan.

Mountain hunters usually see roe deer as second-tier game, but in North Kazakhstan a group of hunters can get several deer each during one hunting trip. The trophies are better and the population is denser in the lowland areas to the north. The hunting ranches in Kostanay, Kokshetau and Pavlodar organize roe deer tours for 1,200-2,000 euros.

These combined package tours are popular all over the world. The Ibex and red deer tour is a prime example of a hunting tour that may get you great trophies. An ibex, red deer and roe deer tour is an even more popular (and more expensive) option, but again, much depends on how big the trophies are.

Several years ago, ranchers in Kazakhstan had the idea of creating a unique hunting package for Kazakhstan’s big five game. This super tour combines ibex hunting in the Almaty region (as the ibex is a protected species in East Kazakhstan) with an extended hunting trip tothe Altai Mountains, in East Kazakhstan, for four other types of game.

Kazakhstan’s section of the Altai Mountains runs along the border with Russia, China and Mongolia. It also has a zoogeographical border, where the Siberian taiga meets the great mountain belts of Central Asia. Here the ibex deer lives alongside the elk, the brown bear beside the Himalayan snowcock, and roe deer, red deer and wild boars share territory with musk deer and wolverines. Biodiversity in itself does not guarantee trophy-hunting success, but the combined package can provide great results.

The West Altai taiga is home to the country’s largest species of roe deer, bears and elk. You can get sizeable roe trophies in this area, with antlers measuring up to 1,400 grams. The local bear is smaller than in East Siberia, but it is not unusual to get a trophy with a length of 2.5 meters. Elk here are not as big as they are in Kamchatka, but they have spade-like antlers that are much more impressive than those of European trophies. There is a nice range of game, including well-sized roe deer, bears and elk, plus medium-sized red deer. All of this, available in some of the most beautiful hunting locations in the world. Should you want to hunt a red deer with bigger horns, you can travel further south to the Zaysan hunting ranch.

Does the combined five-game package entail a more valuable trophy nomination than five separate trips for red deer, elk, bear, ibex and roe deer? Most outfitters believe it does. This is a very prestigious trophy set to have. The only problem: as of now, nobody has managed to claim all five trophies! Kazakhstan’s big five game proves to be a challenge for foreigners and local hunters alike. The hunter who collects the full set first will make history.

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