Leopard Shot Placement
Bullet Safaris

Leopard Shot Placement

Leopard hunting is one of my favorite hunts to conduct and I would like to share some thoughts on the topic. Talking about leopard hunting never get old to me! I thought I would share the basic around how we prefer to dispatch our leopard.

I have included a couple self-made diagrams that I used at a recent presentation at SCI. I didn’t master the latest in computer graphics to make these diagrams – keep in mind I’m just a PH that has ‘mouse-paint’ on his laptop! I also have listed a few of the main topics that I personally like to go over with my hunters on ‘the shot’.

Topics on the shot:

- The vitals are NOT pushed far forward like african plains game - think more along the lines of your whitetail deer shot placement.

- We are aiming for the kill shot with the largest margin for error. If you try for the heart and go low…big problem; if you aim for the shoulder and shoot high…problem; if you think double lung and wiggle to the rear…really big problem. Give yourself the best chance at a clean kill and aim at the spot on the diagrams!

- cats are to be shot when standing, no shooting while reaching for the meat or lying down, or at strong angles or anything else...wait for the right shot.

- relax, if he is in the tree then he is ok with the situation and has the confidence to feed; have the confidence to relax and wait for the right shot.

- divide the cat into sections. find the top line, find the bottom line, find the mid line. Shoot just below the middle on the crease of the leg.

- pick a spot, literally... and squeeeeze.

We have a .375 load that works great for cats and makes it easy on the clients with using one gun in Africa. We find the .375 H&H to be the best all around for Africa. Most hunters can handle shooting it accurately (most important factor), ammunition is easy to find, it is a 200+ yard gun (seldom needed but once on safari it seems to come in handy for collecting a great trophy that you just cant get closer to), it is suitable for hunting buffalo cats and all PG on the same safari (bring one gun and knowing how to use it simplifies the process all around).

The load is a 260 grain Nosler Accubond traveling 2,900 fps out of a .375 H&H. It has a lot of hydrostatic shock and kills the cats instantly. This is great as the client can use the same gun and .375's tend to handle about any ammunition accurately. We sight the gun dead on at the exact distance of the individual bait, with this bullet and we test fire right before heading to the blind (confidence is key and the shot right before sets everyone’s mind at ease).I usually have the client view the cat through the scope once it starts to feed. He can enjoy the moment while getting over the 'adrenaline shakes'. Then I have him back off and calm down. Then when I put him on the gun again the cat is in the right position and the hunter now has the green light to shoot (this is also very effective as the second time he looks at the cat through the scope he is ready for business and has seen the sight picture before, simple brain training!).

Note that:

We hunt our cats in daylight hours and these cats are more relaxed in TZ than I have seen anywhere else in Africa.
We always have a shooting rest in the blind.
We are positioned well and little movement is needed for anything.
We have the gun set, so all the hunter does is lean into it, no shifting around in the seat or moving the gun into position.
We repeated go through the motions and signals that will take place in the blind (as many of you well know there is plenty of time on the vehicle for discussion while waiting for a cat to feed).

This is the way I have found it to work the best – not right for all leopard hunts and situations but it works great for us in our areas.

Now...there are always exceptions! Here is a video when we called the shot in a sitting position. Even though this cats rear is high and his back almost level so finding the vitals was easy and no angle to really take into consideration. This client was a very good shot and experienced hunter - as you will notice when the bullet strikes.
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