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Trail Cams for Leopard Hunting

This is a discussion on Trail Cams for Leopard Hunting within the Hunting Africa forums, part of the HUNT AFRICA category; I'm heading to Zimbabwe in April for a 14 day Buffalo/Leopard hunt. The outfitters told me that "it would be ...

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    gxsr-sarge's Avatar
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    Default Trail Cams for Leopard Hunting

    I'm heading to Zimbabwe in April for a 14 day Buffalo/Leopard hunt. The outfitters told me that "it would be nice" if I could bring a few trail cams for the Leopard hunt (that I could leave at the end of my hunt).

    My questions are:

    1. How much do trail cams really improve your chances of success ? I've used them in the US for deer hunting near feeds, licks, crops, etc. and it is obviously a great tool.

    2. If I do take a few, should I take the basic NV/still photo variety or ones with more bells and whistles?

    My hesitation is that it's more gear to take (I'm already tight for space/weight as I'm going sans-spouse this time and only have one bag to check in aside from my rifle case) AND that it's more $$$$.

    Any advice or experience out there?

    Many thanks in advance.

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    Trailcams are really a big help ! My only concern is that he needs that before you get there. 95 % of the success of a leopard over bait is determined before the client arrives at the airport. Trailcams tell many tails. It gives you the times , routine , how big , how many leopards feed on the bait. I use Bushnell 119477C and online on ebay they run roughly 220 USD.

    It is sad if he expects you to do that out of your own pocket. I have asked some clients to bring equipment before too if hey have space but that is seen as credit towards their bill !

    ood luck on your hunt ! It is in my opinion the most beautiful trophy you can get. The trailcams have video and sound capabiliyies and have infra red flash.


    Happy Hunting !!!!
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    I honestly think any outfitter offering leopard hunts should have the leopard prescouted with trailcams otherwise they would be crossed off my list in 2 milliseconds.

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    This is my first Leopard hunt and will be very early in the season (late March). Based upon my understanding, the PH's should be observing where they find spoor so that when I get there, we can shoot/hang bait AND THEN install the trail cams - I suppose on the more promising baits. How do they pre-scout with trail cams without bait?

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    I would have them pre-bait the area, otherwise you are spending time looking for leopards and not really hunting them. It's only hunting if you know they are using the bait and have a reasonable chance at getting him in during shooting light or in the spot light in some cases. Again I would not want to spend $7000 in daily fees and trophy fees just to bait and get ready for having a leopard come to a bait.
    In Zambia they don't allow prebaiting and all bait has to removed if you are successful. I read that years ago, another money grab on the visiting hunter.

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    Pre baiting is essential to have success. In some instances it might take you 7 days to two weeks to get something on bait. It all depnds on the area. I am not sure if they may not pre bait . I do baits year round as I have meat available . This will be done randomly to assess what moves around in the area.

    Sometimes you will hve baits in areas where it is difficult or impossible to determine what leopard were on bait without pictures or video. Many years ago we would get to the bait and see alot of meat gone. We figured the cat must be huge and ate a lot. Trailcams tell many different tails. I have had 7 different cats on the same bait in one night !!!!

    Happy Hunting !!!
    Richard Lemmer - Safari Afrika - Accept the Challenge !
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    You have to bring trailcams for the hunt ??????

    Sorry, but that doesn t sound very professional to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nyati View Post
    You have to bring trailcams for the hunt ??????

    Sorry, but that doesn t sound very professional to me.
    I agree 100 percent.

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    My questions are:

    1. How much do trail cams really improve your chances of success ? I've used them in the US for deer hunting near feeds, licks, crops, etc. and it is obviously a great tool.

    2. If I do take a few, should I take the basic NV/still photo variety or ones with more bells and whistles?

    I feel the trail cameras help in that you can see exactly what is on the bait. Without it you are going by track size as to whether or not to sit on the bait.

    Leopards were hunted without cameras quite successfully for years.

    In regards to bells and whistles, simple and dependable is better IMO. Prefer infrared. Two gigabyte cards are cheap, bring extra so you can swap them out at the bait and view the pictures in the truck.

    I did not pre-bait on my leopard hunt nor will I ever do it. For me being involved in the baiting, deciding where to hang them, understanding why we put them in certain areas, knowing the direction of the prevailing wind, etc, etc was a very important part of the hunt. Pre-baiting is not essential to success, a good area with a PH that is devoted to leopard is essential for success.

    MarchApril can be difficult for leopard. Bait can be hard to come by early season because everything is so green and there is plenty of water. Another thing to keep in mind is your baits will not last long because of the heat and humidity.

    Where are you hunting? Who will be your PH?

    Good luck!!!!!!!!

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    Mike,

    Your post is sort of relief. That is my understanding of how the hunt goes. I certainly want to be part of the baiting and decision making process (as to where to hang, etc.) and not be told on Day 1 that we need to sit in a blind that afternoon b/c a Tom has been hitting a particular bait. I think that certainly detracts from the build up and ultimate crescendo when you pop that cat.

    I need to circle back with the local folks who told me about the trail cams. Perhaps it was my misunderstanding. I wouldn't want to suggest that they are asking me to bring a few trail cams at my expense for their trail cam collection. If it benefits me and my hunt, by all means then I should take one or two.

    Also, this is one of the big boys of the Zambezi area of Zimbabwe. I would certainly think that they know what they are doing.

    With respect to the season. I've been told that "early" season is preferred for Leopard for the same reasons: Leopard have to work harder for food since the animals are very dispersed and that a "kill" in a tree would be very attractive to them. Due to their larger "circuit", however, getting them on bait may take a bit longer. I'll be there for 14 days so I hope that's enough. I hope that finding the bait may not be an issue. That is where, perhaps, they can help in advance - i.e., if they see that bait is harder to come by, they can shoot an impala or two the days before I get there and "save" them for when I get there.

    Thanks to all for your input thus far.

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    I think your outfitter would like some trail cameras to help you on your hunt and to have some for future hunts. They are incredibly expensive in South Africa vs US so I buy all mine through friends at Cabelas. I'll usually give a friend who would do something like that a discount or an animal worth the money and trouble he spent. I like the small camo Moultrie 5MP-8MP with infrared video. Take a laptop or USB so you can bring the footage of your leopard back home with you! Just talk to the outfitter over his intentions with the cameras because they really take a lot of space in your luggage!

    Good Luck and post some pics when you get him.

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    Default hi gxsr-sarge

    The foundation of your success on a leopard hunt is the prebaiting and knowing the patern and habits of a certain leopard.
    If he does not do dat and requires you to bring the trailcam , you might as well bring your own leopard too.
    to go there and set up shop and start from scratch is like poking in the dark with a stick, in the end you might hit something but chances are slim.
    The guy that got me my leopard last november did prebaiting for free and had all the gear, sent me the pictures of the kitty before I left for Africa, and even then it might be hard, I got mine on the very last day.

    So either sent the stuff ahead but what I would recommend is to do business with a guy that has all the equipment and knows all the tricks of the trade.
    You are the one thats paying so he should at least try to maximize your chances.
    Hope you have a great hunt,

    bwana ndege

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    I am going to bring two along for plains game hunting this trip.
    More for entertainment and learning than increasing my success.

    If you have the room I'd bring them. The more baits, the more cameras the better.


    As Mike said
    "...a good area with a PH that is devoted to leopard is essential for success."

    Part of that dedication may be evidenced by pre-baiting, or scouting or doing area inventory or just being bloody skilled, tenacious and lucky.

    The fact that many may not want to reduce the chance of being skunked is not a bad thing, just a choice of methods.

    Sounds like you signed up for the type of hunt you want to do and are about to get it. Good luck.

    Take pictures of this whole process and please share the hunt report.
    Practice whispering before you leave for Africa!
    A Legend in my own mind!

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    They are very handy, the key is to hang your bait as close to the area of the leopards home range he spend the most time at!!! cameras can help to do this but it will have to start months before the hunt!!!

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    Hi Guy's

    I my book leopard hunting come down to 3 things:

    1 Preparation

    2 Attention to detail

    3 Teamwork

    One has to have a check list that you trough before attempting a leopard hunt not just equipment like chains for hanging bait, shuffles to clear grass below bait. You have to first off all make sure that there is a lot of leopard movement in the area your hunting, tracks, fresh kills (they and few and far in between) a low pressured area and then trail cams and tracking can be useful to establish the leopards areas were they like to hide out in as well as were they drink water regulalry.

    I think most experienced Outfitters/PH's would agree first and foremost that having a an experienced team of Trackers, PH's behind you makes a BIG difference no one man can successfully hunt a leopard alone.Baits need to be checked daily on a large area, the very people who might hang the baits should have the experience to know a leopards basic needs a thick area to sleep, food and water if possible all in close proximity.

    I would simply not attempt a leopard hunt without a trail camera (not to say it is impossible but the technology is there so use it) since it gives you a lot of valuable information for example what time the cat likes to feed, how big the cat is (track helps but there is nothing like seeing a pictures of the cat), how many leopards are feeding on the bait, are there other animals like honey badgers feeding on the bait as well all of these small details play a role in choosing a particular bait to focus on?

    With leopard hunting being a considered the ultimate challenge by most experienced PH I would say that you need all the tools possible to your disposal and even then you might strike out!

    This is why it is important for the baiting and checking of baits and trail camera's to continue even if you think you have the particular cat in the bag excuse the pun LOL.

    All the best of luck on your upcoming hunt it is never easy but remember to stick to your PH and having trust in his abilities make can things easier there is enough if's and but's out there the last thing you need to do is start doubting yourself or your PH.

    Best Regards
    Louis van Bergen
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    i agree with mike about there were plenty of leopard shot before the introduction of trail cams. one thing i dont think i like is this use of technology in hunting, ok it makes it easier ( a ph friend i was discussing trail cams with grinned at me and said yeah but it makes it easier) to see what you have on bait, when its coming to the bait etc, just doesnt seem correct to me (prob too much of a technophobe ), kinda like cheating..... so if i was going to hunt leopard again i would do it without trail cams. as for the people saying prebaiting is "essential", sorry but i think that is rubbish . prebaiting is an option mostly only available on private ranches/reserves where you can take animals as and when you like. in most govnt hunting concessions you are limited by only being allowed to take the animals you have on licence for that hunt. as mike said the baiting process is part of the hunt, and the hanging of the bait, the dragging of guts etc is all interesting and part of it, especially if its the first time you have hunted the cats. the thing to remember is that it doesnt matter what you use or how good the ph is at leopard hunting there is no guarantee the leopard will play the game, unless of course a frozen one is stuck up in the tree for you.. have a great time and enjoy, and good luck

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    I'm definitely going to have a discussion with my outfitters about my expectations for the hunt. This thread, while making me realize that spending a few extra $$ is absolutely worthwhile in order to increase my odds, raised my awareness on the "pre-baiting" question.

    Thanks again for your collective input and good wishes for the hunt. This forum is excellent.

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    I would, like so many people have, advise you to ask your outfitter to pre bait if it isn't already part of their routine. And i would clarify for how long prior to your arrival in camp those baits are too be hung. See how long they expect it to take for the cat to find a bait and get into a pattern typically. If it is normally 3 days before they see any activity at a bait, i'd make sure they hang them 3-4 days prior to your arrival. Your not paying them to save a day or two of hunting time that you would be hanging baits, your paying them to maximize the opportunities for a cat you will have during your 14 days. When you arrive in the bush that 14 days will go by so fast it is hard to believe. When you find yourself 7 or 8 days into a hunt and haven't had a legitimate hit on a bait it's pretty frustrating.
    In regards to the cameras- it's a pretty new development and i'm sure alot of the operators don't have them, or probably don't have as many as they would like to have. If you researched your outfitter and were comfortable with your decision when you sent the deposit check, why should this change your opinion. I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. I would clarify how the expense of said cameras is to be handled. I personally would let him choose the models and have the actual cost credited to your bill. If you try to handle them as a tip- well, tips are for good service, and he may expect cash in additioon to any cameras that will probably still be in the bush when you depart.

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    gsxr-sarge, it seems your trailcam thread has been taken over a bit by a discussion of pre-baiting, so alow me to ask a question of the group.

    Have the rules changed in Zimbabwe recently? When I hunted leopard in Matetsi a few years ago, it was illegal to pre-bait in National Park safari areas. You didn't say if you were hunting in such an area, but they are some of the largest and best areas in Zimbabwe, so there's a chance you are.

    While it took me two tries to get a leopard, I sort of felt that was hunting. While I don't want to start an argument, it strikes me that to show up once the PH has a cat on a bait, identified on a trail cam (not likely in your case!), with a blind already built, seems to sound more like showing up to shoot an animal rather than to hunt ("fair chase"?).

    One last thought about baiting. Of all of the hunts I've taken, leopard hunting has been the most "intellectual". What I mean by that is that you have to use your brain - to figure out which is the best area and tree to bait, and how to get an animal that's essentialy a night-time feeder to feed during daylight (I assume you aren't hutning with spotlights - also illegal in parks areas) to feed before dark. I found a great part of the fun was to get involved in the process, learning why my PH was making one decision over another, as well as shooting the right kind of baits (on demand!).

    Just my two cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Safari Afrika View Post
    Pre baiting is essential to have success. In some instances it might take you 7 days to two weeks to get something on bait. It all depnds on the area. I am not sure if they may not pre bait . I do baits year round as I have meat available . This will be done randomly to assess what moves around in the area.


    Sometimes you will hve baits in areas where it is difficult or impossible to determine what leopard were on bait without pictures or video. Many years ago we would get to the bait and see alot of meat gone. We figured the cat must be huge and ate a lot. Trailcams tell many different tails. I have had 7 different cats on the same bait in one night !!!!

    Happy Hunting !!!
    Could not agree more..... Very true. I for one as your ph/outfitter undoubtedly will... Bait the exact same tree's year after year, certain spots/trees build up a reputation...... I firmly believe that once you have taken a Tom from a tree you'll take another...

    I like the pre baiting it just increases your odds, and truly believe that it should be part of every hunt... Trust me when I say it is not a matter of walking into a blind a squeezing the trigger, too many failed leopard SAFARI'S has proven this exact point.

    Don't worry you'll get to play with rotten meat and hang baits ....
    Good luck and have an awesome time...
    My best always
    Jaco Strauss
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