1st of 2 leopards

tap

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I'm sitting in the airport at joberg as I write this and I'm bored off my butt so I decided I would write a report about my recent leopard hunt. Lets just say this was the most adrenaline packed hunt I have ever been on. I was almost eaten by a croc, and was charged by two separate leopards. However I will save the rest of my safari story for when I get home but as for now I will post my leopard hunt as it is still fresh on my mind. It started as we arrived in camp at the doddieburn ranch in zimbabwe. I was a little depressed as the blacks have completely decimated the place with cattle and poaching but what did I care as I was only concerned in leopard and croc. Upon further investigation, about a 1 hour scouting trip, we confirmed that there were already 6 females and 5 males in the area. the next day we planned on making a hunt attempt on a cat we have since named bolt. day 1 we were stuck at the lodge as the personell running doddieburn ranch had yet to secure our leopard permits and dog permits. This was strike 2 as strike 1 came when my bows were seized in bulawayo for lack of a bow hunting permit which was suppose to have already been secured. Anyways I had a good ph who stepped up to the plate for me and I knew I would be taken care of. Rob Timcke was the guy looking after me and let me tell you he is one hell of a hunter. Anyways 3 days later were on the track of bolt. I told rob from the get go we were hunting only a giant male or nothing. He looked at me, chuckled to himself, and said "well ok". So here we go after bolt. He was leaving a track the dog handler said was an absolute monster and which I measured at 10.5 cm from from toe to back of pad. Pics of him on cam also showed him to be a large male. as soon as we let the dogs out the lead dog went into a frenzie. I had guessed dog hunting would be this easy and 10 minutes into the hunt we had a leopard in the tree. Did I mention that when we put the dogs on the track bolt was running with a female? well you guessed it the female treed. Now we had to figure out how to get the dogs off the tree without an attack. 4 hours later we had the dogs minus one.

we figured this was good enough and resumed finding where bolt exited. We quickly found a snared kudu the treed femal had killed and shortly after found bolts track still following his female. so now we realize we have another female to deal with once we find bolt. about 20 minutes on his track we follow him back into the road where we quickly find his tracks back over the top of ours. Talk about a slap in the face. For some reason the cat and his girlfriend walked down the road for a mile so you guessed it we jogged in the road chasing the dogs for a mile. Next bolt peels off into the bush. well we slowed to a walk for about 15 minutes then back to another 30 minute job where we covered another 2 miles. next bolt gets into the rocks and we are stalled for quite some time following a track the dogs cant' smell. finally were back on the track and put in another 3 or 4 miles. Finally the dogs are spent and everyone is basically dead. Peter, the dog handler, pulls off the track and says we will catch the bastard tomorrow. Let me make a side. Peter Dreyer is by far the most experienced cat hunter and hunter in general I think I have ever met. The guys work ethic is second to none and all I can say for him is that he is an absolute beast and I doubt anyone has as much knowledge about cats as he does. Hes taken over 150 cats in the last 12 years and he knowledge shows.

Next day we find bolts track again and the marathon starts. This day we instantly start with another 30 minutes jog through the bush. As you guessed we jogged and walked at intervals for the next 6 hours until the dogs are spent. I'm starting to realize that leopard hunting over dogs is anything but easy. I tell the guys that tomorrow we are not going to chase bolt as I want to see how a smaller cat works and at this point I'm realizing any leopard is a good leopard. rob instantly chuckles at me and gives me that, "I told you so" look.

Next day we go to a bait that was hit and there appears to bea good sized cat that fed there. I pull the trail cam and instantly see spots and balls. I showed the pics to peter and he replies with "I will find this cat for you". Well we put the hounds to the ground and I'm thinking "oh god, here we go again". "BARRRRRRRROOOOOOO!" and there goes roxi the lead dog. we chase the pack for about thirty minutes before loosing sent in a massive pack of heyenas that jumped and ran down the trail in front of us. Peter pauses and examines a perfect track he found and comes back and tells us were following a large female and not the male on camera. I told him he was stupid and that he couldn't know the difference. He goes back to the koppie where the bait was hanging and puts roxie to work. Meanwhile I'm back at the truck hanging out with the black guys. were all admiring his russian made ak47 and joking with rob and grahm the zim ph and thinking peter is off his rocker. Peter is circling the mounting for about 15 minutes and next thing we know is roxie is sounding off repeatedly and the other 2 dogs with her are barking a lot. next thing I know is that the parks officer is yelling "LEOPARD!" at me. I run to him and on the rocks at the top of the koppie is this massive looking beast roaring at 3 dogs. I had told my wife when we cut the track that she could shoot the tom as he wasn't big. Well one look at that cat and I lost all my manners. I quickly went and grabbed the gun from terra and told her this is my cat. she just laughed and handed me the gun. next thing I know is that the cat held up in a cave and wouldn't come out. Peter and rob helped me get into position above the cat for a shot. Next thing we know is that the cat bolts out the back door and is gone. I'm trying to run over the nearest rock to chase after the cat all the while peter is yelling at me to get my ass back to him as his dogs are coming back at us. I reluctantly did and next thing we know is that my wife, who was video taping all this from below, is yelling at us that the leopard is running right back at us. next shes yelling the cat is underneath us looking at us. Peter then realizes we are between the cat and his cave and tells me to get ready as hes about to want to go where we are and that we he makes eye contact hes going to charge. Of course I don't believe peter and My nerves are stone cold. Next thing I see is the cat charges over the rock a mere 15 meters in front of us. The cat is running parralell to us and as he comes into view he makes complete eye contact with me and quickly changes course to come to where we are standing. My heart quickly sinks in my chest and I loose my breathe as I sit there and stare at the deafening yellow eyes staring back at me with death in them. I instantly shoulder my wifes gun and slap a shot away at the spots as the cat is on a dead run. I hit the cat through the middle and that was all it took. He instantly lost all fight and peeled off to run up a tree. 10 seconds after the shot the cat lost all energy and was done. I could barely walk at this point much less breathe as I was shaking like a leaf from head to toe. Never in my life had I experienced such raw adrenaline and emotion on one hunt. below are the pictures of the cat that ended up taping out with a 16" head and only weighed in at 60kg. but none the less was my monster cat. once I get back I will write about the cat my wife dropped a mere 7 paces in front of me with once shot. her hunt makes my hunt seem like childs play.



 

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davidhein

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Great cats! Congratulations to the both of you.
Sounds like an awesome adrenaline packed hunt you guys had!
 

Buff-Buster

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Great story! Two big cats on one trip...fantastic! Hurry up and give us the "rest of the story".
 

Nyati

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Congrats for an exciting hunt and a very nice trophy !

Thanks for sharing.
 

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35bore

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Congrats to you. Can't wait to read part 2. Nice cat and a very nice hat I might add.:thumb::thumb: Well done.
 

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tap

great cat hunt...

you need a safari like this to get you going some days
 

Stretch

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Nice job Tap. What an adrenaline rush your hunt was. Sweet.
 
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Holy cow, what a great adventure, I am waiting to hear your wifes hunts. Congrats to the both of you.
 

Wolverine67

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Wow! Now thats an adventure! Congrats on a nice cat and a real adrenaline rush! Cant wait to hear the rest.
 

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T , A link for a ring tone or you.

(Ooh) What you want
(Ooh) Baby, I got
(Ooh) What you need
(Ooh) Do you know I've got it
(Ooh) All I'm askin'
(Ooh) Is for a little respect when you come home (Just a little bit)
RES PECT!

Congratulations T. You got what you were after!
I appreciate the in progress picture.
That may not be the biggest Leopard on the planet but Aretha Franklin was playing loud on that Koppie!


Aretha Franklin - Respect Lyrics

Safe flight you adrenalin junkie!
 

Diamondhitch

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Congrats, theres one you wont soon forget. Have you stopped shaking yet?
 

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how goods that ...
tap thats sounds like adrenalin rush of a life time cant wait to read the second half
mate yous guys are living the dream
 

enysse

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Awesome hunt! I'm happy for you tap!
 

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Congrats on the cays. Something you'll remember for a long time. Don't wait too long to give us the rest of the story. Bruce
 

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Way to go Tony!
 

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Way to go tap and Ms. tap.
I know my hunt will not be this exciting for it will be over bait. But, you never know.
 

tap

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So now we are on July 5th. I shot my leopard on july 4th which means I had a better 4th of july than most any other american out there. So july 5th roles around and we find ourselves waiting for the 2nd permit for hunting with hounds. July 6th permit is in hand and off we go. Right off the bat we cut bolts track. Off we go and the race begins. We chased bolt for about 25k that day. Half the time was spent jogging and the other half catching our breath. The moon is still full so the cats are traveling all night making our daytime job grueling. at the end of july 6th we were all spent and the dogs were pulled off the track and we all returned to the lodge where we collapse into bed. july 7th finds us on the 2nd largest males tracks but unfortunately he has a female companion with him. Within 30 minutes of starting the track we have spots in a tree. Unfortunately its the female. We get the dogs pulled off and re-cut the males tracks. Unfortunately the male crossed his own tracks several dozen times and noone including the dogs knew which way to go. We finally pulled off the dogs and called it quits for the day. the next 4 days resulted in no male track sightings what so ever so we ended up sitting around the lodge. On July 11th Peter had to leave for another leopard hunt and we were on our own with half his pack of dogs and his dog handler. I have to admit it was disheartening to loose the guy we had so much confidence in. No worries, it only took peter 1 morning with 5 dogs to kill a cat for his client and he was back with us. we hunted for 5 more days chasing bolt until peter had to leave again for another hunt. Peter was only booked with us officially for 5 days due to mis communications on my outfitters part so the disappearance of peter was understood. The day peter left we cut bolts track. We chased him all day before leaving the area around 3pm due to exhaustion. The next day we cut bolts track again and about 8 miles down the track bolt turned. He toree into one of the dogs and we quickly arrived on the scene as bolt did what he does so often which is bolt. I quickly called peter and he was only 1 hour drive away. He quickly came and brought fresh dogs and within 1 hour we had bolt trapped in a cave. We could hear him roaring in the cave but there was absolutely no way to get him out. It was completely depressing to be so close yet so far away. finally last light left and we pulled everyone out of the area. Terra and myself finally agreed that bolt was not to be chased anymore. We only had 5 more days of safari left at this point so we decided any tom was a good tom. Next morning the trackers informed us they had found a small males tracks and that they were fresh. we put the dogs on the tracks and within an hour we had a leopard fighting the dogs. as my wife and I came onto the scene with the PH we had the game scouting running back through us with terror on his face yelling "the leopards coming". Right behind him was the dog handler with sheer terror on his face running as well. He was yelling at his helper to release all the dogs. At the same time he was frantically trying to release the dogs he had as he was running. Luckily the logs were loosed and just in time as they turned the leopard who retreated to a cave. Try as we might we could not see in the cave and the only option we had was to climb on top of the koppie the leopard was in and attempt to spot the leopard in his cave from above. upon arrival to the top of the koppie I could clearly see the crevace the cat was in. I could see one opening that clearly showed the bottom of the crevace to be about 10 to 12 feet down and filled with dogs. I quickly went back to the hunting party and informed them it was safe as the cat couldn not make it that high up. as we approached the crevace I saw a flash of white fur fly up throught the crevace and quickly notice about 5 to 7 feet in front of my was our tom. we were completely locked on one another and the cat displayed his complete disgust at me. in a split second the cat was airborne to take me out and at that exact moment I heard the echo of my wifes gun. At the shot the cat crumbled and fell back in his crevace. The shot hit right between the shoulders in the brisket and it appeared the muzzle blast may have even ripped the cat open. All I know is that I had froze and that somehow my wife had pulled through. I can honestly say those were the two most exciting leopard hunts I could imagine and the most exciting hunts I have ever been on. I'm hoping that I will be lucky enough to hunt with peters hounds again in the future and the he will allow me to continue getting near on the caved cats as that is the kind of hunting I like. I found out later that he usualy does not let his clients go in on cats in a cave but as it was our dream to get up close and personal he decided to let me have at it. Here is a picture of my wife with her tom and all I can say is wow!

I have to download pics so I will post pics of the cat later this evening along with my wifes croc, sable, impala, and my eland.
 

BRICKBURN

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T, who was video taping this one. You could sell that footage in a heart beat.
I guess little t just proved she still loves you!

Congratulations "t", incredible composure and focus.

Glad you let "Bolt" go. You got beat, Sportsmanship at its best.

Look forward to those trophy pictures.
 

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