All hunts are good, but some are better than others. Some are just more rewarding in overall experience and more satisfying in the memories they yield. It isn’t just about the animals—it’s also the country you see and the people you meet that make certain hunts especially memorable. Sometimes, too, hunting memories are measured in volumes of sweat. Some of these hunts aren’t for everyone, and some should definitely not be left until the very last minute.
On the other hand, the good news is this: Hunting memories cannot be measured in dollars spent. Some of these hunts are a little pricey (which is why I’m driving a ’99 truck with 240,000 miles on it!), but others are not. This is a list of some of the best international hunts you should plan before you die—or get too old to go on such an adventure.
Africa: Cape Buffalo
For me this is Africa’s best, and if you shop wisely it's still a relative bargain. I’m often asked about my favorite game, and the answer lies somewhere between whitetail and buffalo. If the question is about my favorite African game, then the answer is easy—buffalo. There are lots of people who have no desire to hunt the great cats or elephant—and I understand that—but few hunters are resistant to the concept of hunting buffalo. They offer romance and a hint of danger.
Moreover, for me, the buffalo offers a chance to watch the great African trackers do their work. And then you get into the herds, you smell the cattle and you try to sort out the bull of your dreams. Nobody said it better than Robert Ruark when he wrote that the Cape buffalo “looks at you like you owe him money."
There are plenty of buffalo in today’s Africa, with opportunities in at least a dozen countries. Things can change quickly, but considering availability, affordability and opportunity for success, I think Mozambique and Zimbabwe are the two best bets.
Zimbabwe is more a traditional tracking hunt, while Mozambique offers a better opportunity to get into big herds and has a much greater selection of plains game. Either way, a buffalo safari costs considerably less than a guided moose hunt in Alaska or Yukon. If you’ve hunted buffalo, then you can properly say you have hunted Africa.
Central Asia: Marco Polo Argali
I’m thinking Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, and I’m thinking Marco Polo argali—one of the world’s most beautiful and most desirable animals. The Marco Polo hunt is a great adventure in the world of mountain hunting, and you will probably see more wild sheep here than anywhere else.
Go in November when it’s cold and miserable and you’ll catch the rut, as well as a major migration from China. On a slow day you might see 200 sheep, while on a great day you might see 1,000. Although seeing them through good optics and closing in for a shot aren’t exactly the same things.
The altitude is killer, most camps are a bit rough and food is just good enough not to kill you. But it’s worth it to see those marvelous creatures, and most hunts are successful.
This is not an inexpensive hunt, but we’re setting our sights high here. Costs are less than any Stone sheep hunt today. Tajikistan is costlier than Kyrgyzstan (and has more and bigger rams), but today’s prices are considerably lower than when Afghanistan was open in the late 1970s.
Not everybody can crack this nut. As an alternative, consider a hunt in the same area for the magnificent mid-Asian ibex, longest-horned of all the world’s wild goats. You’ll climb the same mountains, stay in the same camps and see the sheep along with the ibex—all at a cost somewhat less than a lot of guided deer hunts.
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Storm Hugo will barrel through the Iberian Peninsula, disrupting travel and creating hazards for residents into the first half of this weekend.
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