My first trip outside the U. S. I learned some lessons too late to help myself but thought I'd share with those contemplating their first trip. A 50"+ bezoar ibex roams the mountains of Turkey because of what transpired on my just completed trip.
#1 GET USCBP PAPERWORK. US Customs and Border Protection at JFK was very reasonable in letting me bring my rifle back into the U. S. without having the right paperwork. BUT THAT IS NOT THE PROBLEM. The Turkish Police in Istanbul would not let me take my rifle out of the airport without the USCBP paperwork.
#2 Using an outfitter rifle: a. When sighting-in, handling, etc. do everything just like it is your rifle. It is an almost 100% guarantee (esp in Turkey) that you have more firearms experience than your foreign guide and/or interpreter; b. Be always alert to shells in chamber and/or magazine and unload when not hunting and especially when traveling in a vehicle; c. Adjust reticles if needed when test firing as where bullets hit for your guide and/or interpreter are not relevant to your firing rifle; d. Insist on firing minimum of 10-20 rounds AFTER FINAL SIGHT ADJUSTMENTS so you are minimally comfortable with rifle; e. Do not go into mountains with less than 20 rounds (i.e., this should be more a psychological than actual issue if you have already fired rifle 10-20 times); f. Clean barrel after last test firing; g. Examine rifle completely for lack of reasonable and appropriate maintenance (i.e. esp. things like difficult to work bolt because rifle has not been properly maintained for years) and insist that minimal maintenance be performed after firing.
#3 Be very careful about joking with your interpreter and/or guide. The nuances and subtleties of the English language are often well beyond the comprehension of most interpreters assisting on hunts. Significant and serious misunderstandings can occur, and will be communicated by guide and/or interpreter back to the outfitter, who will be getting erroneous feedback that can only negatively affect your hunt. You will meet some extraordinary people on your hunts overseas ... but be cautious about assuming that they have understood you when they laugh with you.
#4 When your interpreter does not have binoculars, be cautious about lending your binoculars to him too much. Without your binoculars, you will ALWAYS be late in the game on locating animal and setting up for your shot.
#5 Take a rangefinder. What we have learned for visually judging distance on mule deer in the Western US does not 'fit' in Asia.
#5. If like me you are partially red-green color deficient, hammer that reality into your interpreter and guide over and over and over again. What you have to deal with is often beyond their understanding. Literally get them to acknowledge what you are telling them. And repeat it every time the issue comes up .. like when they can't seem to understand why you don't immediately locate a bezoar ibex lying in the shrubs at 300 meters.
#6 The foreign 'cuisine' will be a new and exciting experience. Such things as home made goat cheese in a goat-herder's cardboard and plastic home may be an especially exciting laxativish experience. Be prepared for and expect such surprises.
#7 Decide beforehand your trophy goal under your hunt agreement and do not let the interpreter and guide make that decision for you. Their pay may well depend on your getting an animal. In such cases, their interests conflict with yours. My first guide ... an extraordinary fellow ... offered a guarantee of a 115 cm bezoar if I would hunt in a particular area. I passed on that chance as my contract called for a chance at a bigger bezoar ibex.
And I close with the above for now ... any thoughts and/or experiences to share, I would like to hear from you ....
Carl D. Phillips
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