If you were in Botswana in early July you would have felt a dip in "the force". Yoda felt it anyway.
Very nice Blue Wildebeest Brick congrats, sounds like a hell-uv-a time.
Since I am not in South Africa it took me a while to quit calling them Gemsbok here and start calling these beautiful animals Oryx.
At some point before I arrived here I knew I was to be let loose on the "Cull Oryx".
So they are on the list for meat gathering and I am more than willing to participate in the gathering process.
I brought 130 rounds of ammunition and thought it would actually be over kill. I was to find out near the end of the trip that this was barely going to take me to the end, even with excellent marksmanship. How is that for scary?
I now knew the rifles were on and carried both of them with me in the baakie. Upon each departure from the lodge I load each clip and have them ready to go. I could grab whichever rifle I fancied for the size of game I spotted.
As we are making our way through the near western end of the property (this is the only way I can describe it and keep it straight in my head where I am), all the while I am trophy hunting I am keeping my eye out for "Culls". Now what exactly is a Cull animal? My PH is not really certain of this concept. It is a newer idea here and I did not really think to work this out with the entire team beforehand. My fault.
So, I decide anything with a broken horn near the base that looks mature and has zero hope of ever being a trophy will make its way on to the hit list. Also, very old infirm or injured animals will join the broken horned ones. I'll make certain of this definition later on when I meet with the head PH.
I spot a likely candidate and I leap from the vehicle. We are still working out this tapping, slowing, leaping thing with our driver. We start a stalk on this Oryx and we cannot get position, although we try for 20 minutes. I am on the sticks several times and just as I am set, he moves again. For some reason he does not want to participate in my plan and it is almost like he knows because his timing is uncanny.
He started out slowly walking and serpentining through the cover until finally an outright bolt occurred when he got tired of playing with us.
After he leaves and I know we will see each other again. He will head toward the water at some point and I will have an opportunity to intercept him. It is dry in Namibia this year and that does provide an advantage.
My PH wants to suggests sitting at a blind to finish off the morning. We do not have enough time now to reach any other "leaping off point"? The Mountain Zebra are most likely caught in the mornings heading back to cover. They are not wandering around during the day time. The Moon is full and they are most certainly drinking at night. Not the best choice of timing for hunting these guys.
As we approach the blind I watch a incredible host disappear from this huge clearing; Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Oryx, Baboon, Steenbok, and Warthogs.
This clearing is short grass and extends at least four hundred meters east and west of the blind and at least three hundred to the north and south, plenty of room to see things approaching.
Baboons leave shrieking when we approach the blind. I had never seen a Baboon when I had a firearm before. Suddenly, I was considering whether one might make the list.
Slowly they are surrounding the opening we are in. It has now been 1.5 hours since we entered the blind. I can see these small movements out at 400 metres. One, then another. Different sizes. They are coming.
I am watching now watching Steenbok, Blue Wildebeest, Warthog, Oryx etc all coming and going. Fighting, jostling for position, sometimes within species sometimes not.
If you look way in the background of this picture you can see the end of the circle of Baboons back at the tree line.
One Oryx decides its time to start a fight with a short scrubby bush. Up and down on his knees horns lashing at this innocent bush.
I have not really considered what I am doing here in the blind yet. Finally, I decide that I will take a Cull animal if one shows up.
I am pointing out the huge troop of Baboons that have surrounded the clearing now. 35 of them in sight. Finally one brash fellow starts his way into the middle and sits by a tree. Another climbs onto a broken log, yet another onto a stump. I have ranged them out to 320 yards.
One walks in to the water and sits on the opposite side from his entrance. He sees movement in the blind and shreaks and runs into a tree. Still well within range.
I have the range finder out for just such an occasion as this.
When you do not know the size of the quarry you are after it is the only way to properly ascertain distance. Since most African PH's try to get you well within 200 yards of everything and most of the time well within 100 yards. This open country blind is a bit bizarre from anything else I have done before.
Just as I am really starting to size this one male Baboon up for a shot,
guess who walks in to the clearing. My buddy from earlier this morning. Here he comes.
Now I have a dilemma. A, is actively questioning if you can shoot that far. Really? The distance of about 275 yards to the Baboon. I tell him without doubt it is something we do routinely. You can tell he does not really believe me.
That Oryx is opposite the Baboon and I am thinking about a double. There is no rush. Nothing is moving fast or cares about us, excepting the one Baboon that squawked before and he is still here.
With A's reticence I finally decide to leave the Baboon alone and take the Oryx.
I wait until he is clear and walking away at about 150 yards. I do not want anything behind an animal while I am using these TTSX. They do not stop. I do not need that kind of double.
He finally clears, bang and maybe thirty yards he's down.
Want to see how fast Baboons can run. Discharge a firearm.
The clearing is empty in seconds and the dust has not even begun to settle yet.
I decide I want to do an experiment with the guts from the Oryx.
We checked Leopard bait and it was hit so hard it is gone and the wire is broken. That is a big cat. I have tested these wires.
Seeing cat tracks at the baits and we find one on the road in the sand that is amazing.
I have been dropping 300WM cartridges beside any track I take a picture of. Glad I have digital because there are more damn Leopards here than you can believe. I have never encountered this many tracks before anywhere I have walked, hiked or hunted in Africa.
Not just at bait sites, all over the place. Roads, cut lines. Reading the books you understand they like to use roads. I now have rock solid personal proof this is true. It is like a highway. Look hard enough on any road here and you will find a Leopard track. I am starting to feel like a scientist collecting data on the local Leopard population.
Check another bait east of the house/Lodge.
There are small tracks at it and it has been hit. Not as hard as the grass blind bait. But its hit. I am hoping a male comes in to visit this young lady.
See my first group of Ostrich. More Giraffe, Blue Wiledebeest, etc.
In for lunch and back out asap.
We rebait the site that has had the wire broken and scrape the ground clean so we can get an absolutely clear track. Oryx guts used for a drag.
We choose one of the blinds to sit at and leave the trail camera to do the honors at the other. Set up trail cams, at two sights, reset bait, and reset one camera properly.
The guts for dragging.
We decide to sit the other Leopard blind and see what will come in before the day ends.
It feels like seconds and forever after you are dropped off. Four hours and nothing but Impala ram bleats and bird calls.
It's ok, for the first time sitting for Leopard. It cannot come that easy.
Sore and stiff from sitting like a statue and waiting. This kind of hunting takes more patience that I thought I would ever have.
But you are constantly searching the cover for any type of movement. When you are working that hard it is like everything comes alive. The wind moving small blades of grass, birds flitting, mongoose, etc.
Its pitch black when we arrive back at the lodge for dinner. I am done. It has been a long day.
I just learned a very valuable lesson.
Do not rearrange your Photobucket filing system after you have already uploaded pictures and linked them
It breaks the link. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
It took me two hours to fix all the links in this thread. Hard lesson learned.
It is dark until the moon rises.
Taking the tripod out it is time to try and get some pictures.
Palm trees and the Moon rising.
The Full Moon. It was so crystal clear that I was able to take the picture and you can actually zoom in and see the impact craters.
You have to travel a long way to get this little light pollution at home.
With the sun going down relatively early in the winter you do end up with some time after dinner. I had some great company.
The best card playing coaches you can imagine.
They helped teach me how to play UNO.
I managed to win one game. It was time to run while I was ahead.
The whole process around Leopard hunting in this part of Namibia is not like the large concessions that many of the books are written about. There are no lions here and there are few Hyena, so they behave differently. They are the top of the heap here.
There are a lot of opinions about Leopard hunting I am finding as I go through this learning process.
A visting PH showed up at lunch and immediately pulls out pictures of his recent successes and enters the discussion although he has never been on this property before.
I think the more the merrier. I am not an expert.
The motive for all this discussion: When we checked the road that leads to one of the bait sights we found a large males tracks (again) walking toward the bait. We see this as we are driving and do not bother to look more closely, we had assumed that it would be seen at the bait. It was not that far.
No sign at the bait!
When we did not see him at the bait we walked back down the road and found where he left the road moving to the west. It leaves us wondering.
We do not follow further into the bush but go back to the blind to check the ground.
Incredible. There is a track within 6 inches of the blinds door. It is the same big cat.
Damn, he knows exactly what is going on. You do not get big by being stupid.
He checks the blind before he goes near the bait. In this case, he did not go to the bait. After he went past the blind he jumped back on the road and carried on.
I have read about this one. I can say that I never considered that I would encounter it.
All of these alternatives to deal with this issue start to be thrown out as part of the lunch discussion.
Build another blind opposite to the current one. Build one further back.
Sit in the tree.
Sit along the track where you think he will come from.
My conclusion. There is not enough time to build another blind and I feel it will scare him off. No way to build it without making a racket.
That damn tree is no where near big enough for me to sit in. I am also just a little leery of sitting beside the meat with thick bush all around me.
This is a dilemma we will have to resolve. It just goes to show exactly how smart these cats are. It creates a great admiration and respect for this big guy.
Check the cameras do some dragging with the new guts and see where that leads us.
New plan to sit the bait earlier in the day and see what comes.
If you can win a game of UNO from teenage girls you are more of a man than me! If there is such a thing as a world champion at that game I am sure it is a teenage girl.
This is an awesome thread. As someone who is trying to decide, Zim vs. Namibia for Leopard, you are giving me plenty to digest. I have to ask, what camera/lens are you shooting your pictures are phenomenal.
For this excursion I used my iPhone for a bunch of the pictures when I am out running around.
But the bulk of the grunt work was done with a
Canon 6D - Does a great job with low light.
L Series 70-200 2.8 IS USM
EF 24-70mm 4.0 IS USM - for those close shots.
Someone suggested a later breakfast before we went off to bed last night.
Ha! I woke up at 0400 and was ready to go.
I decided just then that there would be no more coffee or coke after dinner.
I read Chui some more this morning. All about dragging, etc.
This was the morning of "forever on the computer". I must have been caught up in the reading and trying to upload photos onto the net, thus nearly making me late. Up two hours early and I'm going to be late.
I moved fast and got into the kitchen and headed the staff off from serving me at the table this morning. How well do you think you are taken care of when three staff are serving you breakfast because you are the first up in the morning.
I asked France to cook two eggs over easy, Pauline to make some toast and two egg sandwiches were born and 鍍ake away was had.
France asked about butter, I pointed to my stomach and said I did not need it.
Pauline pointed to her very pregnant stomach and said maybe I am pregnant.
We all howled. They have a great sense of humour.
Egg sandwiches in the baakie at 0630 and on the road. Perfect. Made it.
I asked for some assistance in buying tobacco for the boys. Thanks for the job well done thus far.
Always better to keep the good Karma rolling. The happier your team is the better off the hunt goes, as far as I am concerned.
Tried to get rolling papers but there are none. So newsprint and white pages it is, as usual.
Each has a personal preference for the paper of choice and you know who is up wind of you by the smell of the paper.
We were not going to sit for the Leopard this morning. The wind was wrong for the most likely blind and I am not interested in teaching this Leopard any more tricks than I already have or he has acquired before my attendance.
We cross the highway and head south.
Steenbok female right off the bat. I still can't get a Steenbok to stand still. No horns so it does not matter really.
As we head onto some trails in very thick cover I see a small group of Eland Bulls for the first time, blowing past in cover, and I mean blowing past. They did not even slow down. They are not huge so I am not too distressed.
At least I have seen some living Bulls now. Amazing how a sighting lifts your energy level.
This morning was interesting as we headed over to the south side to look for Eland and anything else that happened to come by.
A is looking for something and he has something specific in mind. I can tell he knows exactly where the animals are on this property, or rather where they typically hang out.
We are going down various cross roads looking, really searching. I start to really pay attention and an actual search pattern is exposed.
We see Oryx, Kudu, Impala, Giraffe, etc and it is all dismissed out of hand. The only thing I can conclude is that it is "Not the big one".
Ok, now I know we are looking for some very specific animal and we are on a mission.
Finally, we come across the right Tower and A indicates "he's the one".
We drive right up beside them. They are not disturbed by the vehicle in the least. They are within 40 yards of the vehicle.
You need to understand that it is legal to shoot from the vehicle and it appears that is expected. You should have seen the look on A & M's face when I jump off with my camera to take some pictures. It was not positive I can tell you.
He tells me "they will run away if we are on foot". Perfect!, in my mind. I am out with the camera instantly.
I get a few pictures and they start running for cover. Glad I was fast with the camera.
I never pulled the camera out again a few times when we made sightings throughout this excursion. I was not carrying the big white gun while tracking Giraffe.
I climb back in to the Baakie and we head out to try and cut them off. Actually, get out in front and intercept is a more appropriate description. You can not "cut" these guys off.
We head to the next cross road and the Tower has slowed down a bit and we pass them on our left.
Move off out of sight and I get the rifle out and start the stalk. These animals are having nothing to do with it. The game is afoot now. They are off like they have seen a ghost.
It does not bother me that they have spooked. It turns it into a tracking game. I'm in for it.
The tracking starts and we differentiate the Bull from the crowd. I start to learn about tracking these beasts.
I have water and we start to get close again as the tracks move to a walk and as we get close, not close enough to shoot, they are off. Now the frustration with the A&M has really set in.
We are done and head back to the Baakie. This is communicated by the flicking of the upraised hand with all fingers flicking forward accompanied by the sound "pfft". It means "gone"
It's a fairly long walk back. Plenty of time to think.
It has settled in that I will not be shooting from the truck and this will be tougher than first anticipated.
It is decided, put in the form of suggestion, that we wait for them to calm down and they will head for water and we can take up the track from there.
That works for me.
We head off on a tangent and start looking for other game in the general area, assuring we do not go along the line the Tower has taken.
At this point we run into some Hartebeest in the thick stuff. Came around a corner and there was a good bull standing on the edge of a clearing. I looked at him, say he was a good one and Augustinus confirmed it. Off the Baakie, to stalk closer.
I move within 90 yards and lay down with the bipod and pick a hole through cover. Just as I get down the beest started to trot off. A little rushed but I put one in the high shoulder through cover and it was all over.
It turned out to be a high spine and lung shot and he dropped like a stone.
What mass! Damn it sounds like a US Whitetail hunting video. Has it all the way to the top. Really good wings too and not likely going to be beaten by me any time soon.
We take pictures and load the RHB into the truck.
This is all so early enough we have time to hunt and to get back to the Tower.
A calls his son, who also works as a PH on the property. He has seen the Tower go by toward a particular water point. It just confirmed what A was already thinking. Good use of a scouting tool as far as I am concerned.
We find them again, drive past and start to stalk back.
The tower has grown in number. More females and young have joined together.
The youngsters bolt and the females follow. The big guy follows without question, all the while keeping his vitals behind cover. How can an animal that large keep his vitals hidden. Damn is he good at it.
Back to the truck and another intercept is planned. We head off and cut back on another road.
This time as we are passing I do not say a word and just jump out the back and hunch down behind a bush. Perfect. I am hoping they will just keep driving and distract the big guy.
I start the stalk on my own and the attention is off me. This may work.
He still manages to keep his vitals covered. I stalk in closer and closer. I am within 40 yards and can not see vitals. I will not take a shot with anything in the way, as this shot will need to be accurate and requires deep penetration.
Why is the Tower heading out??? The wind is perfect, nothing has seen me.
The Baakie stopped to close and they are spooking from the proximity.
I look over at A, who has followed me and sure enough the sign for spooked is given. I am in such thick stuff I can not see they are gone.
The slow return to the Baakie.
We turn around and head back to where we had last stalked him. The Tower had crossed the road and were in the middle of the low stuff 400 yards out where they could watch any approach.
Three blown stalks. I am starting to wonder about this.
Hunting these big animals is a timed event. It is thus because of the hide and skinning.
Taxidermy has to come get it etc. 12:00 is the deadline.
I can see the deadline in the offing. It is now 10:30. A says one last chance and I agree.
The plan: Get let off on a parallel trail and tell the truck to move on and do not stop. It worked well this time.
On our way to the drop point I saw a monster Steenbok.
After the drop off and while we were stalking the Tower I also ran into a cull Oryx at twelve yards in the thick stuff. That is the way of hunting.
I know where that Steenbok is though. I'll be back.
A is trusting me to see things and we worked well together on this stalk.
I was also confident enough to start telling him what I needed. Sticks, Run, etc.
There is a Tower of 12 to 15 animals. Just what we needed more eyes and lower cover.
As A and I start stalking in we are pinned several times by females and young. Who knew the young ones were the real problem. It makes sense really, they are the ones most likely to be eaten.
After a half hour of attempts, hiding, circling, staying bent over under cover the females have had enough and move off. A thinks we are done.
I swing a little wide of the cover, being stubborn and see the Bull still standing in cover. He let the ladies leave. What??
This is really good luck. I can not believe it. I communicate this to A and the game is back on.
"A" told me earlier that I must keep shooting until it is down. I tell him I understand completely. I do not want to be tracking a wounded Giraffe either. I can bet that it would be a sad week long ordeal.
After using every bit if stalking skill we can muster we finally run out of cover. There is nothing between him and us that will hide us, nothing.
There is enough cover to sneak on a Steenbok, sure, these long necked behemoths, no way.
I decide it was time to be a bit bolder. We are screwed anyway. I am hoping the Bull will rely on his ability to see us and feel safe with the distance and not bolt until we get much closer.
I step out from cover and start angling closer. Moving at an angle appearing to be moving away, I hope. My delusion that I hope he buys into.
Of course he has us pinned as soon as we are in the open, but he stands there watching and waiting.
When I get to about 180 yards he decides its time to move. He starts to follow the females in their retreat to the east.
I decide its time for the sticks. A can not believe it. I say "Sticks" more urgently. He sets them up. Obviously, people do not shoot animals at any distance here.
I bend over get set on the sticks. Amazing I was watching for little sticks in the way of the shot the entire distance and made sure there was no possibility of wounding and losing this animal. The big bull will come into a shooting lane I have chosen soon enough. He has managed to keep the only tree available in front of his vitals during his slow egress.
For those of you that think Giraffe hunting would be easy, and they just stand around. Look again. The only thing you keep seeing is the head and neck, not the vitals. They keep that part of them behind cover at every opportunity. Way smarter than you have concluded.
He stops for one last look as he passes the tree and his vitals are in full view. Not a good choice.
180 yards off the sticks. Steady as a rock. Perfect. Bang. I know the shot is perfect. I know I will not see a reaction. A does not.
The Bull starts to immediately circle back where he came from and is now running in what appears to be a slow gallop at 200 hundred broadside to me. I shoot off hand and drop one in the vitals from the opposite side. Still no reaction. I know it is another good shot.
You can see A is worried now. The look on his face says it all.
The bull is now heading away at speed and we are in full pursuit.
Do you want to find out how fast you can run. Hunt a Giraffe.
I trot, jog and run as fast as I can to get another shot.
We get clear of the last tree where the Bull had been standing, he is heading away. Time to try an Elephant shot. Spine, hip area to drop him.
Following A's instruction, I am not going to stop until he is down or out of range. I get on the sticks. He is now closing on 400. I catch my breath and steady myself and I shoot and here the hit and see the reaction this time but he did not drop.
I later found that it had just missed the spine to the left.
It did not matter. He started to founder within 100 yards of that shot and was down.
When I came up to him I put in a finishing shot (for insurance).
Down within 600 yards.
My heart was pounding. What an amazing animal. I felt very sad and remorseful on one level while also feeling a sense of awe and respect.
These are an incredible game species to hunt.
Great job done by the team this time.
It was quite funny to see my other rifle show up on the scene. I had left it in the Baakie and up it came with one of the workers. He obviously had a very high esteem for a .270 to have brought it along for back up. :rolleyes:
It was considerate but kind of funny. That is how I ended up with two rifles resting on the sticks beside the Bull.
I want to collect all my brass on this trip. Manuel and I tracked back to find the first brass with Manuel offered 100R per casing found. I showed him my boot print and I used the GPS.
We got them. Great motivator for the driver to enhance those tracking skills.
The Skinning team showed up and were told 100R per bullet found in Giraffe. I want to see the bullet performance of these Barnes TTSX on something big.
I refuse to get all the typical posed photos of the Bull. It does not feel respectful for some reason and is a complete waste of time.
I take pictures where he died and am quite satisfied.
We head back in for lunch.
During this stalk Francois had called and said he heard a Leopard calling this morning while we were hunting. I told A that I would just wait to sit instead of trying to find him. It sounded like a sighting versus a suggestion or request for attendance.
Francois chatted with me at lunch and said that when he calls about a Leopard 的 must come if he hears a Leopard roaring. I felt it was like a sighting; "There痴 a Leopard". So what can I do from miles away?
Apparently, when a Leopard is roaring you can stalk in on them.
Walk parallel and move in as they roar.
Walk and stalk Leopard. Never heard of it. Another lesson learned.
This afternoon, drag the hartebeest guts and sit for the cat.
Here we go.
Bryce, a hunter from Pennsylvania, commented that I am the most meticulous hunter he has ever met.
Trail cams, print pictures, etc.
I had to agree. How else are you going to get Leopard. Be serious or stay home.
I found out from A why I have a permit and it turns out the unfortunate hunter before me missed a cat. Francois confirmed the details. On the first day the hunter missed and then never had another chance.
Left at three and dragged the Hartebeest guts down the road. Way to far, but hey,
tomorrow we do it differently.
Sat the Leopard at Gemsbok blind for five hours. Two duiker came in.
Wildebeest, Gemsbok and Three Giraffe.
A very cold wind blew the whole time.
Checked two other trail cams and nothing but Mongoose posing on the bait.
Went for a drive tonight to see what was out in the short grass field.
11 Steenbok. Wow.
Tomorrow list: Eland, Steenbok, Warthog, Oryx
Mountain Zebra if we happen to go near the Mountains to chase one.
Nice old black bull. Real nice "Harley" too!
Doing Great so far wayne keep it coming fantastic read and awesome pictures.
We are up and out early, heading south again and looking for Eland.
The plan is to hit repeated water holes to find tracks.
Older tracks earlier in the night and nothing big enough to follow at the first stop.
We stalk in on a dam then walk the perimeter searching for sign.
Impala leave water when they see us.
They have been here, Eland tracks at water. They are watering at night and leaving very early.
That moon is sure doing a number.
When nothing is found that warrants further attention A calls the driver and we are off to the next spot.
We work through some longer grass on some higher ground and see all kinds of Gemsbok. No monsters but plenty of good specimens.
They move off slowly and we head back lower into the thicker cover.
We wind our way by another water hole, we pass a dam and a Jackal thought he was hiding. He stood like statue and that decision was not a good one.
I took him straight on. Finally.
As we came back from the track search I lifted the Jackals front leg for A to view the damage. The bullet blew him up literally.
A's only response was: " No Taxidermy" --- No kidding!!!!!!!!
This is a very very heavily edited photo to meet PG.
The track search reveals plenty of Oryx, Impala, Hartabeest, Warthogs and some "Eland Females" This is what A calls them; not cows, females.
Manuel discovers a Leopard track and a kill sight. We jump on that news with gusto.
It is incredible to see where the Leopard snuck in close to the quarry, waited behind a log until it was time to pounce.
The marks of the battle in the soft sandy soil tell it all. The quarry struggles within a remarkably small area and is finally dragged off to a pile of toppled trees. It provides cover while the Leopard makes sure the job was done and probably started its meal.
Not really a lot of blood.
The Leopard was not satisfied with this location and starts dragging its prize from the ambush area to some thicker cover further up hill.
The hind legs of the quarry are dragging and the marks are obvious, as long as the sandy soil is present. As we track this cat further from the water, it switches back and forth through a drainage all the while using any cover it can to move to its goal.
I am expecting to look up in a tree and see the quarry half eaten and have an incredible opportunity to set up a blind and sit for this cat.
The tracks are a reasonable size, not a monster, but certainly good enough to get my attention.
Another four legged omnivore who left some sign behind.
We work the trail and move to quickly and lose it on the very hard dirt. The drag marks are not there anymore (read, not discernable enough for my eyes) and the ground just gets harder and rockier as you move up the slope.
We circle back and get to the last point of positive contact.
We fan out and try to find where this cat has gone.
Again, I do not have my rifle with me. I do not expect this cat to be close. I don稚 know why I am thinking that, but I am.
Perhaps, its this cats desire to get away from the water very shortly after making a kill. It is not interested in being exposed at all.
After half and hour trying to find some small sign on very hard ground we all look at each other and decide it is fruitless.
Slightly frustrated but there is a blind with bait waiting on the north portion of the property for later today.
As I think about it, I am not really too concerned. I have seen so many tracks all around this large property and have had reports of cats moving in day light, some roaring during mid day and that leaves me less than panicked about being successful. Perhaps I should be more panicked, but I am not.
We head along looking for Eland in the heavy cover, probably a mile from where we jumped back into the truck, when the incredible occurs.
I am hardly ever looking down the road in front of the Baakie. I am peering into the heavy cover as far as I can, trying to see any glimpse of a part of an Eland or anything else for that matter.
Manuel exclaims that he saw a Leopard cross the road. No way! Mid-morning, broad daylight, really? We move forward to the point he thinks it crossed the road and stop.
We get out and sure enough, Leopard tracks crossing the road west to east. Amazing!
It is not a huge track, so we leave it be.
I am being picky on Leopard. As I write this I have to wonder if I am nuts. How many people get to hunt Leopard and see this much sign and pass on Leopards in the day light?
Those trail cam pictures of the Big male have me focused on what I want. The trail camera lets you know without doubt what is in the area. No guarantees, just certain knowledge that there is an incredible specimen in the area.
I am content to wait. I may not get him but I am going to try my best.
We do not bump into any Eland and the hunt turns to Warthogs when I see one on the road. With the naked eye he looks pretty good, but one tusk is broken.
That throws him into the category of a Cull in my books.
He is walking toward a couple of females along the edge of the road and is about 100 yards out. He finally quits walking away and present a shot that appears to be quartering away.
I pick the 270 up and send a bullet straight through, behind the ribs and into the opposite shoulder.
There is a minor reaction and I am pretty certain of the shot.
The boar ran off. When we arrive on the spot there is no blood, none, not a drop!
I am now wondering if I missed. I was steady as a rock, squeezed the trigger. I am now concerned and doubt is creeping in.
Did we actually find the proper point of entry in to the bush?
Manuel is doing some tracking into the bush. We start following the track and I am looking ahead to see if there is a pig running about in the bush.
Finally, found him thirty yards into bush. There is blood, it's all underneath the boar. Not one drop on the trail.
The shot placement was perfect for the way he was standing. Just did not make a big enough hole to provide a blood trail. Perhaps a bullet with something softer in front would be better on these smaller animals. You do not need the incredible penetration that Barnes provides on such small game.
We drag the boar out to the road and set up for pictures with the boys.
We jump back in and start hunting again.
We are heading along in some thicker cover hoping to see Eland.
I am watching slightly ahead and right and watch two very good Warthogs make a hasty retreat into the thicker cover and they are gone. Perfect.
The tracking job was on the menu.
We all jump out and head after them. We find a good track and get about 400 yards onto it when the boys decide we are not going to catch up to them and call off the hunt.
At this point I am surprised that we find a snare. Being private property with game guards prowling the property all the time I was a little surprised.
I think it was a bit older snare. It gets snapped off and the wire will make its way with us back to the truck. Thankfully nothing was in it.
We start the return trip and begin to make a large circle deeper into the bush.
Apparently one of the big guys wanted water bad enough that he was willing to try sneaking around us. He does not see us at all.
He got far enough ahead that he made it to the water hole and we watched him drink from a long distance. I waited till he moved from the water and we moved to intercept him.
I got up to a tree to lean on that made excellent cover. He had no idea I was there and he was passing ahead to my right.
I thought he was a good one, which A confirms. I decide to take him while he is walking in the bush.
A quartering away shot that dropped him on the spot. I thought it broke the offside front leg and that made him fall. I am shocked when he gets back up and start to leave with haste. I see the entrance wound is farther back and combined with the miraculous recovery I am freaked out, so I rush a shot. Having immediately forgotten I took my first shot at a hard quartering angle.
My second shot missed clean and motivates the boar to use high gear. I am thinking about another shot when I watch him topple at 80 yards.
He is a great trophy.
We get the pictures and load him up. It has obviously turned into Warthog day.
Hip Hop PH!!
Good enough for me.
We are heading back toward the lodge for lunch. We spot a Jackal and I take a shot. Clean miss. For some reason I manage to rush shots at Jackals and there is no way I will ever take one if I keep this up. After the fact I realized it is close to where the Giraffe gut pile should be.
We drop the hogs off at the skinning shed and I walk over to the salt shed and have a look at what is in storage. There are some nice trophies in here. Some happy hunters here for sure.
We checked all the trail cams and found that a decent male came and hit the grass blind bait. That will decide this afternoons activities.
We picked up warthogs guts in the PM to drag.
One of the farm workers has let us know that there is a dead Kudu that he thinks Leopard have been feeding on at the south end of the mountain range. We will have to decide which is the most likely spot to sit for Leopard.
We have to see about this Kudu carcass. A fresh kill might just be the ticket.
Immediately beside the carcass we run into some of my favorite little residents. Time to use the Big White gun again.
The Kudu on the mountain had been fed upon, but the Leopard tracks were much smaller than the big guy. That made the decision, off to Gemsbok Blind.
Pass by the Grass Blind and I changed the card on the camera on the way by. Find yet another track along the way.
A sat with me for the rest of the day in the blind.
Waiting and watching in the blind: Eland came by; Zebra ran around the pan. The Stallion was really aggressive, galloping around chasing a lesser male. They used up a huge amount of energy in this display.
Blue Wildebeest wander around, Warthog and Giraffe all attend.
Then A heard a Leopard roaring. I did not catch it the first time. I hear the repeat very shortly and get to conclude for a certainty that's what a Leopard roar sounds like.
This goes on for twenty five to thirty minutes. Roaring sporadically, as he slowly moved in a 120 degree arch on the other side of the pan just out of sight. For most of the time he was moving inexorably closer. The only way you can draw that conclusion is the volume of the roar.
All the while I was hoping that big guy would decide to come into view.
The roaring slows and then as we silently strain to hear it again we hear it roaring.
Damn, it is further away and he was obviously headed around the back of the mountain.
Cheeky bugger let us know where he was the whole time as he went by.
It was very exciting stuff. Leaves me wondering how it could have been done better.
There is a very big Male Leopard in this picture. He is just very hard to pick out.
Another good day of hunting ends and we head to the lodge.
All I can say is WOW. Sounds like a great time. Wish I was there with you. Great narrative and pics. Thanbs Bruce