Notes from the Top of the World

by Dan Simmons

We are starting off the year with remarkable exploits, stories, and adventures. The Story continues….

My good friend Larry Strickland just returned from Tajikistan where he shot a remarkable Marco Polo sheep on his December birthday.

It all started at the OVIS wild sheep convention in Las Vegas where Larry & wife Debra met with the folks from the Hunting Consortium and booked their trip. It ended with Larry dropping his sheep at 590 yards on top of a 14,000 ft mountain, halfway around the world.

A lot happened between the two events including a forty- one hour flight from Las Vegas, NV through Istanbul, Turkey to the Pamir mountain range of the Himalayas at Dushanbe, Tajikistan, which is far west of Mongolia and China. This was followed by a forty-four hour rough road trip to their camp and a welcomed cabin heated solely by a local hot spring. This is obviously not hunting over the hill from home.

The camp was operated by Elgin Beck outfitters, who have owned the camp for over 30 years. Here they met their 50-year-old, 6ft.1in. guide named “Shorty” who had guided this area for his entire adult life, in spite of him only having one eye.

As Larry & Shorty left camp in their Toyota Land Cruiser they were headed to an even more isolated area with daily temperatures ranging from negative 5 deg. F to 50 deg. above, due to the extreme elevation and thin air. As they gained elevation “One-eyed Shorty” spotted sheep, two and a half miles away; his one eye was pretty good.

Suddenly the truck fell through the ice on a creek and was firmly stuck. The hunters continued on foot, trekking up the mountain gaining an additional thousand feet of thin air, lung-breaking elevation. They spotted a group of thirty sheep at 300 yards, but were busted by a large group that was out of their sight, and they all began moving away.

Finally stopping at 590 yards, Larry had an uphill shot with his lungs heaving and the adrenalin pumping. He elevated his 338 cal. Whitfield custom rifle, feeling confident in the shot and his rifle. He took the shot, the Marco Polo was down and it was high fives all around and pictures were taken.

Larry’s sheep measured sixty-inches on one side and sixty-two on the other. It was “caped-out,” and the truck was able to recover. The hunters ate well while giving hundreds of pounds of fresh meat to the local people.

The next day it was a search for the Mid-Asian Ibex, but as they drove to their location, gunfire was heard in the distance. The area was near the Tajikistan/Afghanistan border where warring soldiers took a series of daily complimentary shots at each other across the river.

Following a long day of searching the hunters spotted an Ibex lying in a cave. They stalked closer, came around a hill and over the top. As the Ibex stood, it was “put to bed” with a 520-yard shot.

This remarkable hunt was topped off with a full-bodied Yak at 500 yards and will make a great rug addition to the Strickland’s den, and the village ate well again that evening.

The bottom line is, a long trip with great guides and a once in a lifetime adventure, visiting new places & People.

Now it is Debra’s turn as they add to the family legacy of hunting & conservation achievements.

If you have a story or comment about this or other articles, please contact me at sportsmansquest.dan@gmail.com

Dan’s Spicy Rum Sheep Steaks

Here is one of my favorite wild sheep recipes, but if you have trouble finding Marco Polo in your hunting area it works equally well with domestic lamb.

Ingredients:

  • Four 6-oz sheep steaks
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 Anaheim chili, seeded and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup lime juice

Directions:

  • In a large skillet heat oil and add onion, peppers, and spices;
  • cook until onions are translucent;
  • stir in rum and lime juice;
  • cook until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated,
  • cool mixture — place sheep steaks in zip-top bag, add marinade and place in refrigerator for three to six hours;
  • heat grill to medium heat. grill steaks five to six minutes per side or to desired doneness.

“Notes from the Top of the World” first appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal’s Pahrump Valley Times