Although the designation of trophy types generally follows science-based taxonomy, trophy categories frequently deviate. Wild sheep and goats follow two different systems of classifications; the taxonomic classification used by scientists and the trophy type classification used by hunters.This usually occurs as a result of differences in size of animals among different populations of what are scientifically considered the same species and/or subspecies. Hangai argali category would make a good example for this practice.
Two putative subspecies of Mongolia argali are described in the literature, the Altai and Gobi argali. Safari Club International recognises only these two subspecies while GSCO includes Hangai argali too in their trophy animals list. So in general it would be safe to say, two argali subspecies are currently recognized in Mongolia and three argali trophy types are hunted.
Hangai argali is an intermediate between Altai and Gobi subspecies in terms of both horn measurments and body size. During late 70’s and early 80’s a good number of trophy hunters collected rams in the area which is known as Hangai mountains or central grassland of the country. These people were led to believe that they were hunting Altai argali with smaller horns. Surely this significant morphometric differences of the two argali from different goegraphic areas in the same country were reflected in the trophy hunting price structure so the hunters paid lower prices. The same fact is stil the norm today. Although a good size Hangai argali ram looks every bit as impressive as an average Altai argali does, the hunt stil costs considerably less compared to altai argali hunts.
The characteristic feature of the Hangai argali area is the gentle slopes and crests often covered with fine pastures which allows the use of four whell drive trucks extensively during the hunt. This gives the hunting party to cover more ground and check extended areas. This hunt can be classified as one of the less physical hunts when compared to most sheep hunting. Very little physicall activity is needed since the hunting is done by driving around in 4x4 wehicles and glassing occasionally to locate a desired size ram. For this reason comfortable Nissan and Toyota trucks are utilised extensively. Mountain basins are scanned for bands of sheep that are up and feeding or bedded down. Only the last stalk will be executed on foot.
“Vast” is a good place to start if only one adjective is needed to describe Mongolian wilderness. Our guides rely on their stalking ability and will try to get as close as close as to animals despite the vastness of the terrain. But in a terrain as wide open as Hangai mountains are, it may be a real challange at times. Then a barrel streching long shot may be in order.
Circular felt tents with a wooden frame which are called “yurts” or “ger” are utilised to accommodate hunters. These well insulated tents are the traditional home for the Mongolian nomads and even in extreme weather they prove to be very comfortable and serviable.
Most yurts are furnished with a wood-burning iron stove in the middle and a comfortable bed. Yurts are idellay suited to Mongolian steppe biomme. The circular shape of yurts makes them able to resist winds from any direction and also allows them to be easily and efficiently heated and cooled.
Argali hunting camps are normally consist of a number of these dome-shaped traditional gers. As a general rule, one is reserved for hunter’s use while another one is serviced as a kitchen. There is always a professional cook in the camp and in some cases they prove to be very good.
Almost all hunting camps across Mongolia are equipped with a small generator and electricy is produced by these devices. As most international hunters experiences it, the power supply and the types of power outlets differ between countries as there is no international standard. The power supply in Mongolia is 220 volt.
SEASON & WEATHER
The legal revisions made in 2012 significantly changed management of nearly all aspects of the trophy hunting system in Mongolia. With the new revisions, hunting season for argali was shifted to a time frame between July 1 – September 30. The revised 2012 system allows only 3 months of hunting which does not include the rutting period in November. On the other hand hunting season for ibex starts 15 days after the argali season kicks off and continius 2 more weeks after the sheep hunting season comes to an end.
The climate in Mongolia is unstable, so, from year to year, there may be significant variations in temperature and precipitation. The climate is strongly continental, with long, frigid winters and short, warm summers. The temperature range between winter and summer is definitely wide. Because the country is so far removed from the regulating influence of any oceans, the continental Mongolia climate brings great extremes in weather.
Warm and mostly dry weather can be expected in July with some thunderstorm. July is the hottest month of the year for Mongolians. The day temperature vary between 15°C to 22°C in the mountainous areas. Overall temperature in August is warm enough although later part of the month sees cooler temperatures and more rain or even snow.
By mid September the weather in Mongolia starts to cool but is far more predictable than in Spring time. Days can be sunny but the mountains start getting pretty chilly, even some snow fall can be observed.
AREA & ALTITUDE
The Hangai Mountains form a solid mountain mass in the central part of Mongolia and are the largest of the three major mountain ranges in Mongolia. It extends 800 kilometers from the west to the east. Characteristic feature of this area is the gentle rolling hills often covered with fine pastures. With this, the landscape in this part of the country differs greatly from the Altai Mountains that is home to the largest of the wild sheep, the Atai argali or Ovis ammon ammon. While high rocky clifs and deep basins are dominant in Mongol Altai, Hangai range is featured by broad, warped dome-shaped mountains covered with grass.
The area encompasses several natural zones including mountain and mountain steppe zone where the hunting for Hangai argali takes place. The peaks in the Hangai range reach some 12,000 feet (3,700 metres), with Otgontenger, the highest, rising to some 13,200 feet (4,025 metres) in the northwest although the average elevation is anywhere betwenn 8,000 – 10,000 feet (2500-3000 metres). Most hunts for Hangai argali are carried out at lower elevations at about 6,500 feet (2,000 metres). But one need to keep in mind that Mongolia is a high plateau in general with an average altitude of 1580m above sea level