Bad Leopard Hunt West Nicholson Zimbabwe
I have pics of every cat I discuss in my report.
Pics to follow when I get them downloaded.
Just have to get this off my chest and move on.
My leopard hunt report:
Dates May 13 thru May 29th
West Nicholson Zimbabwe.
Cold Storage Commission, Jonsyl Ranch, Chemfouchway and Dubane ----
Total area 200,000 acres.
Area runs from Gwanda 20k north of West Nicholson to 15k south east of
West Nicholson then south for 20k
PH will remain unnamed.
Species Hunted : Leopard and Hyena
Species seen: 8 kudu, few dozen impala,1 warthog, 1 zebra, a dozen duiker, a
dozen Klipspringer , 3 steenbok, 1 bushbuck and a few thousand head of
cattle in 15 days and over 1,500 km of bush travel on bait line.
Species taken: None
I'd waited 8 years to go back to Africa and find a Leopard.
My first choice was booked, no more tags but found this thru A R and Adam
Clements Safari Trackers.
This hunt was in the same area so I booked it.
I have hunted LEMCO back in the 80's and
knew I wanted to hunt leopard near
West Nicholson. I thought I had found a good hunt. Big cattle country,
large stocky cats.
I wasn't interested in plains game so the few and far between horned game
numbers were low and I didn't care. I knew this going in and I told the
PH I would shoot no plains game on this hunt.
I booked with a leopard PH that had been hunting with dogs in this area for 3
years. I thought I was on the right track.
Wrong. A hound hunter will always be a hound hunter.
We will get to that later.
We were met by PH at the airport. Seemed like a nice guy, very pleasant.
He had a hunter come into the area a few weeks before and had hunted leopard for 5
First thing, that was wrong.
I was told I would be the first one in. They had baited for
his cat and nothing hit in 5 days. After he left, a cat hit on one bait.
PH pre baited with 8 cattle ｼ's to start my hunt. I had told him and we
agreed to use
cattle, not Impala for baits as the cats were used
to beef for feed.
We went to PH's house for the afternoon, met his wife, both very nice
people. They live in a nice middle class area in Bulawayo.
After talking for a bit and having a bite to eat we left for our 3
hour drive to camp.
All was well with the accommodations. Not the fanciest but decent
The First morning we started checking baits. The first baits were over an
hours drive from camp at the north end of the properties and had been out
for 6 days. Nothing had hit any of the 4 baits in this area of about 15 sq
miles except genets and honey badgers. My first thought was; ' What's going on ?,
and, why continue with these unproductive baits?'
We then drove another hour south to check baits in a area about the same
size but closer to camp and clustered in about 15 sq km. The entire area consists
of small rocky hills with dry river beds
between them. This made perfect
funnels for game and great travel routes for cats. The cats were using the
river systems extensively for travel yet baits were hung in larger funnels
that did not narrow as much as the areas I had seen the majority of the cat tracks in.
The 4 southern baits had one hit, It was a pair, one smaller cat and
one fair sized cat. I was told, could be male or female. One of the tracks was
So we set up a camera to get some pics.
First I was told it was a female with her young.
Then I was told it was a small tom.
In yet a later discussion this cat became a female.
Strange how they talked about this same cat for the first 2 days as a smaller male,
then it became the female's young, after that it completely
changed it's sex.
Same routine next day. No hits on the baits. I was then asked to shoot an Impala ram
I was told we would need it if we found another new site.
Okay bang dead dropped it in it's tracks.
So now we check the same baits with the same results. Only the one hit by the same
pair. We continue to leave unproductive baits hang.
At this point I am seriously wondering why we are not moving these baits to the more
traveled paths of the cats in the area.
I say nothing. I'm a good quiet client. After all, this is a 'Professional Hunter'
he knows his job, right?
The next day he chooses an area to hang yesterday's Impala, #1
We also need to kill another cow. I'm all for it, I want to use the cattle for
We get 4 new ｼ's. We finish the day with the last bait being hit by the same
I'm asked if I want to hang a ｼ to keep these cats here.
It's early in the hunt so I say heck yah. Do it. Nothing else is getting hit.
Back to camp to sleep.
Next morning back to the bait line. Nothing hits.
A cat walked under the Impala and the PH gets excited.
I'm not impressed, he came for the stink. The Impala wasn't skinned or gutted and
after a day of rotting in the hot sun the odors permeated the air.
The female walked right on by. Perfect scenario for a hound hunt. Just hit their
track and follow it.
Once again I am told, we need another Impala.
I am thinking; 'Really ?
We still have 3 ｼ's of the last cow in the truck and we need another Impala?
Okay bang dead dropped in it's tracks.
On to checking the same baits for another 14 hour day.
Understand, there are 6 guys in the back of the truck. 1 scout from each
of the 4 properties, his head scout and his tracker. then in the front of the truck
is me, my wife
PH. We all drive around int the same truck for 12 to 14 hours a day.
There is a second Land Cruiser back at camp and one of his guys has a drivers
license and drives all the time ??
I'm thinking, why doesn't he split the bait line up and have a couple of the guys
check one half while we check the other.
We could be done in half the time so if we ever do actually sit out in a blind we
won't be so dead tired.
It seems to me this would be a more efficient way to operate but...
I am a good client and say nothing.
We find another place to hang the Impala, #2,
and we move on to checking camera's and baits.
Nothing, we head back to camp.
I forgot to mention while we were out we took a leg bone, one bone with very little,
if any meat on it and laid it
out on a large hill that was quite barren to try and pull in some hyena.
I shook my head at this but what do I know, I'm just a hunter from the
states?I'd only been hunting longer than this PH is old.
With 3 cow heads, all their guts and bones laying all over the skinning shed floor,
we put out a month old, dry meatless bone?.?
But I'm a good client and I say nothing?.
We go back to camp, eat, and a few hours after dark we go out for hyena.
It takes 1 ｽ hours to get to the area. The PH and is guys drag along a home speaker
system, 3 feet high and 18 by
18 wide, ｼ mile up this hill and start calling.
An hour later we leave. An hour and a half back to camp...
But I'm a good client and say nothing.
The next day we are still checking baits that are now 10 days old.
We are only feeding the
genets and badgers.
We hang anther Impala, #3, and pick up a track of a tom on one of
the cow baits. We hang a camera and hang one more ｼ in the new place.
Back to camp and sleep.
The next day we check baits and I am told another Impala is needed. Bang, dead in
We still have 2 ｼ 壮 of a cow in the truck and now a new Impala
We get good pics of a tom on one bait. 100lb virtually cleaned of meat.
Okay this looks good. We hang another bait and build a blind. I'm excited BUT... I
cat is going to come in late, he ate a lot of meat last night.
We had him on camera for 8 hours off and on, One time for over an hour in
the tree starting at 8:30.
Okay, let's sit?8 guys take 2 hours to build a blind and make enough noise to
anything within a mile of our presence?
Okay, I want to sit in a blind finally.
We set up the mic and the light and leave the area.
When we come back to sit, the PH doesn't get us in until dark. It is so dark I
cans't see the bait to get my gun set up.
Oh well, I'm fine.
AT 11:00 o'clock the PH tells me WE MUST LEAVE
I say 'What?'
He states 'We must leave because the cat knows we are here?'
B.S. I say to myself.
Out loud I say Lets stay longer he's going to come in later.
PH looks mad but we stay. 30 minutes later he starts to get his stuff
together and tells me lets go.
Now I'm Pissed. But I'm a good client and we leave.
We had no light and were falling and stumbling out of the area and making enough
noise to be heard a mile away.
I actually felt bad at one point when the PH fell so hard he nearly broke his
shotgun when he fell on the rocks in the road.
We came back the next morning and guess what? The cat came and ate. Not a lot but
1/3 of the bait
I said to myself, this aint going to work, he's fed enough in 2 days.
100 lb of meat, he won't want be back. If anything, he'll walk right by tonight.
I'm thinking..'Let's leave him tonight and sit tomorrow'?
SOOO... the PH says, 'we sit tonight, all night.'
Hyrax started screaming about 11:00pm. The tom walks by, never goes into the tree.
When daybreak comes the PH decides the bait was the problem, not enough
he gets a 2 days old Impala that has not been gutted and not skinned in 80
Pulls it up the branch and the branch cracks under the weight.
Here we go.
We have a leopard on a bait eating beef.
Now we throw an impala up and change the tree.
Mind you now, in these 2 weeks not one cat anywhere has ever treed using impala
The PH puts this rotten Impala full of flies right next to and around the ｼ
of beef that is still ｽ there and has a nice skin on it and is just turing into
jerky and holding up perfectly well.
This cat doesn't want Impala. He has all the beef and calves he wants on this
There are thousands around here but, I keep my mouth shut.
I ask if we are going to sit tonight? I'm all in. What the hell, we aint got another
Well guess what? I'm told We have to let the cat get used to the bait and the new
tree 5 feet away
Right.... here we go.
I expect the blind to stay
Nope spent 2 hours dismantling the blind and loading the truck, I'm steaming by
now but I still say nothing?
We check other baits, nothing, hang 2 more and go back to camp.
Now when I say nothing, it aint quite true. A lot of baits get walked by, two
old hanging impala.
Great for a hound hunter but we dons't have any hounds.
Next morning we check the camera?Yep, the cat came in and fed. You can
see by the pics he wants nothing to do with the impala and there it is, another chance
The impala was bad meat and a bad idea. The cat never returned.
We are now checking baits 2 weeks old and he still leaves then
Move them to another spot to try to get some action or pull them down
all together. Or at least use them for hyena bait??
Nope, they stay. Even the ones with female tracks under them.
I'm told 努e leave them to see if they bring in a male?
We had made a deal at contract time to take my wife out of camp for 2-3
days after 4 days to sightsee. It is now 7 days and I'm asking everyday to
do this. Finally, when she is at her wits end and wants to go to Bulawayo and catch the
next flight home?. he agrees to get my wife out, and I'm going with her. I'd had
enough at this point. 12-14 baits up and no toms
anywhere, so why not?only females and they are mostly walking past.
He is excited but not me, He talks about how great hounds are and how this works
great at getting fresh tracks.
Cool, but we aint on no Dog Hunt?..Then
before I leave 努e need more bait I buy another cow.
He takes us back the 3 hours to Bulawayo. We stay the night and leave early the next
morning to drive 4 and a half hours to
Vic Falls. We get a 1 hour tour there and another hour to eat lunch at the Vic Falls
then we drive 2 ｽ hours back to a lodge for the night and leave at 7:00am to drive
Bulawayo another 2 hours. PH picks me up and back to camp, 3 hours.
Next day we need more bait.
Impala?what a waste... bang dead on the spot.
Another useless bait. The PH was suppose to have cattle lined up to use but
he says it takes to much time to clear them and get them.
Well he should have been better prepared and had them ready on the hoof to slaughter
when we needed them.
Aside from the fact he has 6 guys here, any one of them could take care of the
Okay, we have more baits to check and by now we have 4 impala hanging.
The heat is bad, they are not lasting and the cats have a very easy time of catching
Hell, they all have cowbells on. Even a blind cat could find something to eat out
The 12 quarters of beef are holding up fine as a nice dry skin has formed
on each one. Even the hit one is holding up.
The Badgers and Genets are getting fat.
We have more than 12 baits hanging to date.
We finally quit feeding the so called 2 females at one site.
And I refused to put out another at a site where a small female was eating.
She ate a whole ｼ steer in 2 nights?lol
Guys this story could be a lot longer , I'm only
hitting on the finer points
Next day same routine, I'm so pissed I'm not even talking anymore. No
pulling of baits and finding new places. Rotting impala doing no good
anywhere, so he tells me 'we need more bait'?
Okay... I knew from day 5 that my opinion was, in his mind worthless and I know he
thinks I don't know a thing about hunting cats but I finally had to
make a stand. I said NOPE, I aint doing it. In over 10 days you have not been able
to show me that a cat will hit on these Impala.'
I mentioned I wanted to buy a small calf that we had seen a few days ago. It
had been attacked by a hyena and had a torn up
leg. I had seen her for 3 days now limping and only getting worse. The settlers in
the area don't do much for their injured livestock.
When I looked at her in passing, I said to
myself What do you think girl?
Can you get me my leopard She just blinked back. I knew she wasn't going
to make it and either the infection or the hyena's would come back and get
SO... the truck went silent and the day went on and ended with no more words
from me or the PH.
We ran the bait line for a few more days. Nothing but females, genets and
badgers. I did get him to move a piece of beef to a tree with a rotten
impala, that night after the female had walked in the area for 2 days, she
treed and ate the beef but would not touch the impala.
Okay day 13. I had only heard from my wife once in 5 days. Now I'm
Unbeknownst to me she had been trying to get the PH's wife to
drive her back to me after 3 days. It took a HARSH demand on her part to
get back to me. She felt locked in Bulawayo and something was always
coming up with the PH's wife to not drive her back into camp. She
after 6 days.
On day 14 we had had an impala hanging in a tree near camp. It had been there for 7
it was putrid. Green and black ooze coming out of it and maggots everywhere.
Arrangements had finally been okayed to get the little injured calf.
We got her and she was small. Only ｽ of her was good for bait, about 100lb.
I nicely asked, as if I was walking on eggshells, if we could drop this rotten
piece of crap Impala, because we had had 2 cats in the area and 1 under the
bait for a few days but never going in the tree, and try beef?
I dons't blame them for never going in the tree. I nearly puked when the Impala was
dropped. A bag of green and black ooze was contained under the Impala skin.
We set the bait and the PH says 'lets get that last Impala we shot about 4 km away
and hang that also.'
Okay it's pretty rotten but what the hell.
We go to that bait and it had been hit by a small female, just the
last 5 inches of the
the ribs had been eaten. The only part of the impala
that had dried enough to stop bacteria growth and be attractive to the
female. Drove to and from then hung it with my calf ｽ
We put the other half of the calf in another location.
Back to camp.
Okay, let's go Hyena hunting.
We had dropped off some remnants of cows and the rotten old Impala baits,
not mine but from the guy that hunted weeks before I arrived.
That still pisses me off that he was there and I wasn't told till a week before I
left for my hunt.
Anyway, he loads up his speaker and we g. Then the speaker won't work?he
doesn't know how to fix it. Someone else set it up for him, so we are in
the bush on a cell phone trying to talk to the guy that built it.
It never gets fixed. Reload and go back to camp. An hour later.. lets walk 1k
or 2 towards the site and just sit on the bait?kay, 1 hour later we leave and go
back to camp?
That was the extent of my hyena hunting 2 hours in 15 days.
Next morning day 15. This day will be the most memorable hunting experience of my
We check baits starting way out from camp. We get to my fresh little brown
eyed calf bait around noon. It's hit, hell it ain't hit, It's Gone. Both
the Impala and my little brown eyed calf are ripped right out of the tree and are
nowhere in sight. With 2 sets of tracks male and female. It's not a big tom
but tom , maybe 120lb.
We have them both in the tree on camera and he is about 1/3 larger than she
is. We study the pics on a laptop, he is much bigger.
Then I hear the PH say I think he's small? look his tail is very fluffy
Well I say 典he tail is moving and blurred LOOK at the picture closer
he then agrees.
Okay, now the PH wants to hang a piece of shoulder that has been lying in the
truck for 4 days. Overnight he would hang this piece of beef in a tree on
a much traveled road at dark and remove it at daybreak so it would not get
stolen by locals. This piece of beef was our mascot for 4 days
Okay?'m thinking 2 cats lets get 2 baits up? think of my little brown
eyed girl and what I said to her.
添our going to get me my cat aren't you??
I asked the PH to please take me to the other ｽ of the calf and pull whatever is left
and put it here. It's the last night, my last chance, I say to myself.
You would have thought I was pulling teeth trying to get him to retrieve this last
piece of the calf from the other site.
He did finally get the other piece. It had been hit and pretty much gone from yet
Yes females were everywhere probably outnumbering males 6 or 8 to 1.
Dog hunting and Zim's (tom's only) law since 2004 has just destroyed the ratio of
males to females.
We built another blind, went and got what was left of the calf and went back to camp.
The truck was taken to the skinning shed and they took out my calf.
When we left for the blind I looked and asked where was it.
I was told There isn't enough meat on it to matter
I demanded they get it and PUT it in the tree.
By now I'm at my limit and I'm pissed
I guess I paid $12,000 to watch my PH hunt because I didn't matter nor
were my wishes ever considered throughout this hunt.
He got it but you could see he wasn't happy about it.
We got to the tree and blind at 5:00 hung the bait next to the one already
up and crawled into the blind?.
Night fell and time passed. I dropped off to sleep once and then
caught myself. The PH also dozed some. We had agreed if either of us started to
snore we would elbow each other?
I got elbowed a few hours into the night and awoke to the sound of crunching
The Ph stated He's in the tree
Give him a few minutes and I値l turn the light on and see if we have them both up
I sighted my
gun on a nice secure stand not having to touch it to view
my lit red reticule crosshairs lined up 12 above the bait.
The light came on and the leopard was lying on the limb just like one of
my golden retrievers holding the bone of my little calf between it's front
paws just gnawing away.
He was eating my little calf. He stood up and got a better grip and I got
a better look. I can clearly see his larger stature. A larger neck than a female.
A neck larger than and thicker than his head. More body girth and depth and
thicker in the leg than the female leopards.
The PH says nothing. I say that's the male.
He said, 'I cans't tell.'
I say ' I'm sure', He states can't see if the female is on the
tree okay, I pull the scope off the cat hoping to see the female in the
dim light nearby?.I pick up movement below and behind the other cat that
is eating. It's
there, the second cat I say SHE'S THERE! Just below him.
She can't get around him on the limb and I can she is the smaller of the two.
He replies? I cans't see her
I try to explain where she is and he
doesn't see or cans't see?t this point I felt he didn't want to see her.
Well just like this entire hunt has gone, my thoughts, opinions and experience
don't mean crap.
The PH's mentality is I dons't know anything.
I'd mounted cats all my life, Male toms have a distinct stature vs. females.
The neck structure, thickness, body proportions and head are very
different. But who am I to say, I'm just a stupid U S hunter.
I look at this tom thru my scope for 10 MINUTES waiting for the go ahead.
As I did this I can tell you right now, you cannot break the trigger or
bust the safety catch of a Winchester Model XTR .270. I pulled the trigger
so hard the first time that I still have the bruise
on my finger from a
week ago. I held the pressure on that trigger for over 2 minutes till I
had no strength left in me trying to break it or bust the safety and let
it fire. The cat moved around giving me various shots , left broadside
standing, right broadside standing, frontal, quartering away, lying down
left and the PH still cans't see his nuts. HE keeps saying, it has a small
head, Well hell yes it does, it's neck is larger than it's head.
Typical male structure. But he cans't see what I see. The cat even shows me
his ass. I'm pulling the trigger over and over in my head while the gun is on safety.
I shoot this cat at least 10 times during this 10 minute period.
The PH is looking thru one side of his binoculars like a telescope. I want to scream
Then the cat hears something off to his left and becomes alert, I hear
some cow bells and he's out of there.
Okay, I'd had it, I'd been screwed
I came to the realization that my hunt was a mere scouting and research project
for the PH for a future client. My hunt is over and I'm going to bed?
roll up my sweatshirt into a pillow and make my bed and go to sleep?.
Hours later, I get a bump, PH states He's back into the tree Crunch
crunch? Okay, a minute later, let's turn on the light maybe this will work?
Okay light goes on, 2 seconds go by with this cat in my crosshairs,
I see and state That's the smaller cat now up in the tree, little head
it's much bigger than it's neck, look at it's girth, a third the size of
it's length I say to myself, if he had said shoot I never would have. I
never put my finger on the trigger for HER , 'it's a lot smaller than the
first cat' I tell him.
He states I cans't tell which one it is?
I really dons't care to look at this female anymore.
I scan the tree with my
9x illuminated scope for the male.
He's nowhere to be found in the tree.
Before the PH even turns the light off, I'm back on my pillow, then a few
seconds later she jumps the tree.
Okay one more time a little later I get a bump.
Dennis one's in the tree Okay I think what the heck maybe this time, I
start to move to my gun, PH states I'm going to give them 30 minutes to
see if I can get both in the tree together.
Well at that point I just waited, 10 minutes later ruching stops and cat
is gone decided then this was over.
As I fell asleep, I thanked that little brown calf and her big brown eyes
for getting me my leopard. Both leopards had been in that tree, both had
only eaten the calf bait that I had insisted on hanging. The other bait
went untouched. And the bait I hung had had only small pieces left on it.
I had just completed a Green leopard hunt!
came and we walked to the tree. Yep both had been on the tree by
the tracks confirming that 2 cats where there. PH states 的 dons't think
the female climbed.
BS She was the second cat in?
As we walked down the road the line that will remain in my head for the
rest of my life was stated by the PH.
的 just dons't think that was the tom for you to shoot, he was small and
only a ｾ tom. It just wasn't the cat for you.
I never said a word?.But in my mind I was screaming, when did it become
YOUR choice to decide if it was big enough to take? It was a legal cat and
my license NOT YOURS !
I held my composure and never said a word for hours?
He offered me another hunt for ｽ price in the future?
I will not except that nor ever have to. There is no reason to. I got my
leopard and with the help of the little brown calf that escaped a more
tragic death by infection or being eaten alive by
another hyena attack or
Unlike most hunters I have the opportunity to have the leopard that should
have been taken in Zim this year.
A local leopard in a rescue had died around Jan of this year I have it in
my freezer tanned and ready to mount.
It will be moved to the corner of my den in my home as a memory of
this hunt. Some will say I was not successful but I know with the help
from that little brown eyed calf, that I was.
Yes I got my leopard after a lot of disappointment.
The PH had some issues, Lost his dog of 12 years on my hunt at home, and
his mother had a mini stroke the day before I arrived, and his sister
arrived from Australia whom he hadn't seen in 8 years.
He should have brought in another PH that would have had his head in the
game in my opinion.
Is this area full of leopards? Yes, but females to male ratio is about 7 or8 to 1.
I saw FRESH leopard signs everyday and on virtually every road.
Most were females.
Has dog hunting affected this area? Dramatically, and it shows. Dog hunting
let's the PH target males much easier. He has dog hunted this area for
over 3 years taking many many cats. But last year he had 3 dog hunts and was
unsuccessful on every one.
I ran into and heard of 2 other PH's that had dog hunts going in similar
area's for 15 days and they both never cut a tom track for their clients
so they never even ran any leopards.
Would I hunt leopard again in this area?
Tom numbers to low
Would I hunt any area that has been dog hunted by what I have seen?
Nope. It lowers the ratio of female to male
Would I use a booking agent again?
I have never booked a safari before thru an agent or company. 6 safari's
before went perfect, this one didn't.
Would I bait hunt leopard with this PH again?
Would I dog hunt leopards with him?
I suppose if I ever wanted to but have no need to. He is very much a hound hunter
Would I hunt elephant and buffalo?
Yes that's his nitch and he needs to stay with those hunts.
Was he nice and took care of us at camp and fulfilled our needs and made
us as comfortable as possible? Yes.
Traveling back home I put this all in perspective
I have my leopard and a green hunt aint so bad for my wallet either?LOL
No $4500 trophy fee
No $1000 tip for PH
No $300 dip and pack
No $1000 shipping
No $400 brokers fee
Took extra money for a 2nd leopard I know I was dreaming but he had 6 on
No $4500 for second leopard
Took extra money for more game like hyena and civet and caracal after the
leopard was in salt
I prepaid 1200 for bait and spent another 1800 while I was their, $3,000
bait bill in total so adding it all
up. I came out of Africa with a
leopard and $12,900 in my pocket. A nice deposit on my Marco Polo sheep
hunt, that's next?
My Bucket list of African game is all scratched off!
BTW Adam,if you read this, you still owe me $15.00 for the wire transfer.
When your office gal sent an invoice for the payment of the balance last Feb, she didn't notify me that you changed banks and my wire was returned. I sent it to your original bank that the 1/2 deposit was sent in Nov. I had to pay to send it again and have sent multiple emails asking for it.
It's only $15.00 but it is the principle of it. If you can't I'll understand. I hear booking are down with your bookings about 50% and you've had to go back to putting your boots on the ground. It would buy me and the guys at work a couple pizza's for lunch someday, but if you need it more than me keep it.