Hunting in Turkey
Turkey represents a cultural mixture of the east and west while it geographically bridges Europe and Asia. The country combines natural beauty with its 10,000 years-old heritage. It’s inhabited by many game species such as Anatolian Ibex, which is indigenous to Turkey; Anatolian chamois, Anatolian (Konya) sheep, East Anatolian (Armenian) sheep, mid-Asian brown bear, Anatolian boar, red deer, roe deer, wolf, and lynx.
Turkey is situated in a Mediterranean geographical location that enjoys a temperate climate. However, the diverse landscape and the hills and mountains result in different climactic conditions. Temperatures can vary from a low of 5 degrees F to a high of 95-100 degrees F. Even though the official language is Turkish, English is widely spoken.
Turkey is growing in importance for hunting. Not only its unique species of game and the top quality of its trophies, but also its special hospitality, friendly service, and great holiday opportunities make it a popular destination. The most desired trophies are the Bezoar ibex and the Anatolian chamois. Some of the largest wild boars are found in Turkey.
Population – 78 million
Neighboring countries – Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Greece
Climate – Varies from cool and wet during the winter in the northeast to mild in the coastal areas
Airports – Istanbul (most important for hunters), Ankara, Antalya, Izmir
Vaccinations – none required
Entry requirements – Valid passport with 90 days minimum before expiration, US citizens will need a visa. A valid firearms certificate is required.
Electricity – 220v; 50 Hertz, European receptacle
American residents need visas. They are usually good for three months. The visa fees must be paid to the Turkish Consulate General and are less than $50. Most hunters can purchase a visa at any port of entry, but cash is required. Visas can also be purchased online. You will have to bring a voltage converter or bring multiple-voltage appliances as the country runs on 220-240 volts, with a continental two-pin receptacle in use.
Hunting season runs from September 15 to December 1, and August 1 to March 31 for Armenian sheep, Bezoar ibex, and chamois. The best dates for hunting ibex are at the end of December as the males are in the rut and exhibit a special color coat.
Red deer and roe deer are best hunted from mid-September to mid-October when the bulls come into the rut. Any time of the year is good for hunting boar. Driven hunts are particularly successful from October through March. May to October are the best months for stand hunting. Stalking works well from the end of December to March 31.
Due to the varying terrain, hunting methods tend to vary. In general, mountain hunts are done on foot. The hunter and the guide drive the roads while glassing. When the desired animal is spotted, a stalk is made. Wild boar hunts can be either night hunts from a high stand during a full moon or driven using hounds.
Many airlines fly to Turkey, including Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Air Berlin, Condor, and others. You will arrive at the International Airport in Istanbul or Antalya International Airport where transportation to the hunting camps will be provided. An English-speaking guide will assist you with Customs and Immigration. Seven days should be planned for the trip, with five days devoted to hunting.
Different hunting areas will have different accommodations. Some hunts (ibex, sheep) will have either nearby hotels or village homes, while other areas will use tented camps or small hunting cabins.
The firearm import process begins at your port of entry, usually Istanbul; your outfitter will provide a guide to aid with the paperwork and act as translator. Some documents will have to be provided in advance. You must bring your own firearm as there are serious laws in Turkey against using borrowed firearms. You really, really don’t want to end up in a Turkish jail! Make sure that tip money is available. Local currency is the New Turkish Lira. Your local bank can provide whatever amount you feel you will need.
Trophy export requires a fee and is done through a local outfitter who can responsibly transact the shipment.
Turkish cuisine is quite good. You will be able to sample traditional Turkish meals along with European flavors.
Bezoar ibex are one of the most sought-after trophies in the world. The number of ibexes has radically increased over the past two decades. Finding a trophy Bezoar ibex has never been easier. Ibex inhabit an area stretching from the southeast point of the Aegean region in Western Turkey to the Mediterranean region to the south. This includes the entire Taurus mountain chain.
Bezoar Ibex live in forest regions made up of pines, oaks and brush. They prefer steep slopes at altitudes ranging up to 10,000 feet. The male weighs around 140 pounds; the female smaller. They are known for the size of their horns. They possess the world’s longest horns in relation to their body size. Horn length can reach 55 inches. They curve up, backward, and down. The males have dark brown fur in the summer and gray fur in the winter. Because of their preference for high, rocky, almost inaccessible habitats, they are hunted by spot and stalk, usually over a multi-day period. The Bezoar ibex is regarded as one of the unique Ibex of the world.
Stalking under a full moon in the snow presents the best opportunity for wild boar hunters. During the day the baits are checked prior to setting up for the night’s hunting. Compared to other hunting destinations, Turkey has a great advantage in wild boar hunting due to its geographical location. There are many uninhabited, empty areas where the boars can reach maturity. This makes for some very large pigs.
Turkish wild boars can reach weights in excess of 650 pounds, and sport 7-inch tusks. Due to their religious convictions, Turks do not hunt wild boar. Nor do they have domesticated pigs. The low hunting pressure results in a dense population of boar leading to the possibility of hunting some really large pigs.
There are driven hunts available for boar. Usually, these take place over four days. The driven hunts, two in the morning and two in the afternoon start with strategy planning and rifle sight verification. An average day’s hunt will see 15-20 boar per drive. That’s 80 animals a day. That’s a whole lot different from your average pig hunt.
Hunting licenses for chamois are restricted. The animal is a species of antelope goat native to the mountains in Europe. In Turkey, they live in the northern mountains. They are small animals, seldom weighing more than 130 pounds. The average height is 30 inches. The horns are straight with a slight hook at the end. Chamois can be found up to 11,500 feet elevation, so it behooves a hunter to be in excellent condition.
Anatolian red deer
The Anatolian red deer is a large animal as far as deer go. They can weigh in excess of 650 pounds. They can be found close to the black sea north of Ankara, in the Marmara region, in central Anatolia, and in the Taurus Mountains. Due to heavy hunting over the last 200 years, the red deer was threatened with extinction, but strict rules were enforced 70 years ago, and now there are a limited number of animals available on license.
Anatolian roe deer
The Anatolian roe deer is one of the most popular hunts in Turkey. The west, middle, and east Black Sea regions as well as the eastern Mediterranean region are the habitats of the deer. The best hunting areas are Bolu, Karabuk, Kastamonu, and Bartin Provinces. The animal is not very large; weighing roughly 40-45 pounds. The hunting season is from May to November.
Konya sheep have suffered the same overhunting as the Anatolian red deer. Only careful development projects instituted in the 1930s have allowed its numbers to increase to a huntable level. The prairie of central Anatolia in Konya is the only habitat of Konya sheep in the world.
Licenses for the Konya sheep are very limited and the hunt is expensive (starting at $85,000). The season is open from the beginning of October to the end of December. These sheep are most active in the morning and early evening. They are located by using high-power optics to scan the mountains. The hunter should be prepared to do a lot of climbing at the high altitudes necessary to get above the sheep. Rams usually expect trouble from below and don’t watch above very closely. Good optics and a flat-shooting rifle are necessities.
Licenses for the Anatolian gazelle are restricted. The hunting area is in the sand and gravel plains and limestone plateaus of southeastern Turkey. The closest large city is Sanliurfa in southeastern Turkey. Hunting has only been recently opened after having been protected for the last 40 years. The hunt is rated moderately difficult, but the large population makes finding a trophy a distinct possibility. The hunting style is spot and stalk. And just like most of the Turkish animal hunts, an accurate, long-range rifle is required.
The Anatolian hybrid ibex is a cross between wild Bezoar ibex and domestic goats. It shares the same habitat as the Bezoar ibex. The hybrid ibex differs from the Bezoar ibex in that it has longer, floppier ears, and its horns flair out significantly in comparison to a true wild ibex. As with some other Turkish animals, hunting licenses are restricted.