Otjandaue Leopard Hunt
On November 18th I was reading another Forum and came across a GREAT DEAL on a last minute leopard hunt in Namibia with Otjandaue Hunting Safaris. I discussed the hunt with my very understanding wife. She told me to go for it, in fact even offered to pay the airfare for the trip (Thank you). After exchanging a couple of e-mails and receiving trail cam photos of the leopard with the outfitter/PH Roy van de Merwe, I telephoned him on the 19th and further discussed the hunt. Roy explained that the big tom had been on bait for more than a month. The cat did not have a regular feeding time but would usually feed for one or two days then disappear for a day or two before returning to the bait. We came to an agreement and the deal was made. Then it was a mad scramble to book the flights, pack, notify work and make sure everything would be taken care of at home in my absence.
Less than 20 hours later, I was boarding the plane in Reno. I flew Reno Salt Lake City Atlanta Johannesburg on Delta. The economy comfort seats are well worth the extra cost for my long legs. After a relaxing night and a couple of delicious meals at the Tehillah Guest House in Johannesburg I was flying to Windhoek on Air Namibia. Roy, with my leopard permit in hand met me at the Windhoek airport and we were on our way to his farm located about two hours north west of Windhoek, near the town of Omarura. During the drive we drove through Erindi Game Reserve, a location I had spent a few nights at in 2008. Erindi is actually a neighbor of Otjandaue and driving through it brought back pleasant memories of the luxury, non-hunting reserve.
Upon our arrival at Otjandaue I met Roy's wife Janet and his two daughters Rune and Kaylin along with Janet'suncle, Kobus.
November 22nd - After settling into my room in the guest house and checking out the wonderful lodge, Roy and I sat down to decide if we would go out and sit in the blind that afternoon. Even though Roy believed the cat may come into bait that afternoon we decided to stay in camp to rest and to give me a chance the next day to shoot the rifle of Roy's, a Ruger Hawkeye .338 win mag and a Ziess scope, that I would be hunting with. Roy showed me a number of trail cam photos of 杜y leopard discussing shot placement for the different angles.
November 23rd We went out and checked the bait, blind and trail camera. Roy does not tie the bait to a tree limb but hangs it from the limb. His thoughts on this, is that it gives the hunter a better shot than a cat laying down on a limb. The trail cam photos showed the leopard had came in to feed on the bait that morning at 6:30am. I guess we should have been in the blind but it's OK, we値l get another chance. I shot the .338 and after a small adjustment it was dead on and ready. Roy took me for a drive to show me part of his 25,000 acre farm which is covered with lots of brush making any hunting on foot a challenge. Roy decided to see if we could shoot a warthog to freshen up the bait. We sat in a blind overlooking a large waterhole. We saw Gemsbuck, Kudu, Wildebeat, Implala, Zebra, Waterbuck, Baboons, Jackals and Steenbuck. We also saw pregnant females and small male warthogs, but not what we were looking for.
Even though Roy did not think the cat would return to the bait for a couple of days we crawled into the blind that afternoon and sat there until a little after 7:30pm.
November 24th No Thanksgiving turkey in Namibia! We went out looked over more of Roy's property and the numerous plains game animals he has. I also spent some time with Janet in her taxidermy shop, located on the farm. Roy and Janet had a taxidermist instructor from the US come to their farm for a number of weeks to teach Janet. Janet is new to taxidermy but her work is quite good and with experience I believe it will be excellent. From my observations she is meticulous in her work. Besides, everything must meet with Roy's approval before it is shipped out. Roy and Janet are government approved dip-n-pack facility and were just finishing their tanning drums which is going to allow them do the entire tanning process.
Again Roy did not believe the cat would come in this day but with only seven hunting days instead of the normal 12 we decided to sit in the blind again that afternoon. It's windy but at least it's blowing from the bait towards us. Once again no leopard but I'm really enjoying the sights and sounds we encounter while sitting in the blind.
November 25th Roy shot a large warthog and has Kobus take it to the bait site to hang it. Roy believes the leopard will come in either today or tomorrow to feed again. We decide to spend the entire night in the blind in order to hunt both the afternoon and morning. Even though you can not hunt at night in Namibia we wanted to spend the night so we wouldn't be disturbing the area with our scent and noises if we had to leave the blind or return the next morning. That night after shooting light we heard the leopard making his 都awing sound. On four different occasions that night we heard baboons in the area screaming and howling. This was probably due to the leopard trying to catch one of them. I had never heard baboons making so much noise and was fascinated as they are so loud and absolutely vicious sounding. About 6:00 that morning we again heard the leopard. With the sun coming up and shining into the blind we closed the front flap in order to hide us and our scent. We listened intensly hoping to hear the leopard feeding on the bait 65 meters away. But, it was not meant to be as no leopard appeared.
November 26th Roy decided to replace the existing blind with one that his friend, PH Nick Nolte has. The new one is closed in the back which will contain our scent better if the cat were to come in from behind us. We checked the trail cam and discovered that the leopard had walked directly past the bait at 6:30am without stopping to feed. We were in the blind with the flap closed at that time but did not see the cat. I don't believe there would have been time for a shot as the cat would have been past the shooting lane and into the bush before I had time to get on him.
Roy believes the tom will come in early today as he hasn't fed on the bait (hopefully he hasn't made a kill) in three nights. Just in case the leopard doesn't come in, Roy is thinking of moving the bait to a nearby waterhole with an elevated blind to further control our scent.
Ready for another full night we get to the blind at about 4pm and boy is it hot inside. As the time goes by I listen to the sounds and let my mind wander. About 7:30pm I notice everything get quiet. At the same time Roy, with a big smile taps me and points towards the bait. I look out and see the leopard standing on his hind legs behind the bait eating. I carefully get on the rifle which is already on the rest with the muzzle through the shooting flap. When I look through the scope the leopard is now on the bait, standing on his hind legs facing left, offering me a perfect side shot. I place the cross hairs just below the crease of his front leg and squeeze the shot. A moment later we hear the leopard make three growling sounds then all is quiet. Roy asked me about the shot and I tell him that I am confident in its placement. During the recoil I had lost sight of the cat but Roy says it ran into some brush.
After about 15 minutes we leave the blind and walk back to the truck we had parked some distance away as we planned to drive to the leopard instead of walking in on a possibly wounded leopard. By the time we got to the truck it was dark, boy does it get dark fast out there. We drove to the bait and the area around it looking for the cat with our flashlights. After a few minutes I'm starting to wonder if the cat is wounded even though I'm still confident about the shot. About that time Roy stops the vehicle and says the leopard is right outside his door and it is dead. What a relief. We get out and inspect the cat. What a beautiful animal, I am so happy with him. He is a large fully grown tom that Roy estimates to be 11 years old. We take the necessary photos for the Namibian government as well as some trophy photos. We load the cat and head back to the farm to wash him off and put him in the cooler.
November 27th After a celebratory drink and a pretty sleepless night (rethinking the hunt) we have breakfast and all of Roy's family took me and the leopard out to a scenic granite outcropping for more photos. Then took the cat back where we weighed it at 65 kilos and the team of skinners (Endrico, Gideon, Steven and Ben) took over.
The rest of the day was spent around camp relaxing. Janet's sister and her family came in and Roy cooked up a traditional, sheep Namibian BBQ.
November 28th Picked up the blind and trail camera. The camera showed a brown hyena came to the bait after the leopard was shot. We took the blind back to Nick Nolte. He is really a nice guy and has a beautiful hunting lodge. Later that afternoon we went out looking for an eland as this was the only plains game animal that I really wanted. It was quite windy and we saw no Eland as they were probably staying in the heavy brush. We got out and walked the bush but still no Eland.
November 29th Roy, his nephew Boetie and I went out and sat in the blind to cull some broken horn oryx. We saw lots of animals and got a couple of oryx. We went out looking for Eland again in the afternoon. Again it was windy and this time a brush fire started on a neighbor's property. I told Roy to go help on the fire and that we didn't need to hunt.
November 30th We went to town for breakfast and some souvenir shopping. When we got back we did some more oryx culling. That afternoon we went looking for Eland again, this time the wind was not blowing too hard. We see a big bull along the fence line. As we get off the truck the bull sees us and heads into the heavy bush. We slowly move towards where we last saw him. After a half an hour or so Roy sees the eland's legs walking towards us. We kneel down and wait for the bull to come to an open area in the bush. The bull stops just before the opening. I'm thinking two more steps when the wind changes, he smells us and leaves us on a dead run. I, now have a new respect for eland. I didn't get an eland but that is ok as I had already taken the leopard and anything else was just gravy.
December 1st - Time to settle up the bill and then Roy and his entire family take me back to airport. My flight out of Widhoek ends up being 1.5 hours late leaving me running in Johannesburg to make my flight. I ended up not needing to hurry so much as that flight was late one hour due to a maintenance problem. I made it the rest of the way home with no problems.
I must say this hunt while not planned in advance was a great success. Although I did not have time to check Roy's references before the hunt I'm very pleased and impressed by him. Roy was a straight shooter and extremely honest with me. I found him to be a very ethical person who hunts fair chase, looking at a quality hunt instead of number of animals taken. Although he says he is not a cat expert I found him to be very knowledgeable on leopards and their habits and consider him an expert. He worked very hard for me on this cat, agonizing over the fine details to make everything right.
Roy may not operate the biggest or fanciest hunting operation but it has everything that I would need. The accommodations are quite comfortable and clean along with the food being tasty and plentiful. I want to thank Roy and his lovely family for everything, you made a dream come true. I especially want to thank my wife and family for supporting me with this hunt. Next year they're going with me to Zimbabwe/South Africa for a holiday/hunt. My wife even cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for me after I returned.
Beautiful Tom, congratulations !
Nice Leopard, congratulations..
I was wondering how those late season leopard hunts went? Congrats!
Your trip came off great...a late season cat to boot..
Congratulations on your Leopard and thanks for the hunt report and great pictures!
Congrats, second read as good as the first!
Nevada- Roy is a heck of a character. I met him for dinner at his ranch a few times when Nick Nolte and I stopped by. I could have a beer with him anytime (unless that little fox terrier bites me again). Glad the hunt was a success, he has a nice property, good grass, water.
Congrats on your Great hunt! Thanks for posting a report and sharing some great pics. I met Roy and Janet at the DSC Convention in Jan Great folks I'm planning a hunt with them in the future myself.
Bob, I'm sure you will have a great time and take some fine trophies. They are both great, hard working people that will do everthing to make sure you're taken care of and successful.
Bwana4, Roy took me to Nick and Isabels place. They are both great people and have a wonderful place.
Which dog bit you? They were both friendly ole lap dogs when I was there.
it was that little fox terrier.Attachment 12294. the photos of the"friendly" dogs are Nick's. The bite photo is from the terrier