Judging Leopard Spoor

JimboandNed

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Hi Dave,

I met you briefly in Vegas but lost your details so I'm very happy to find you on here. Please inbox me some options for Leopard, Buffalo, Sable in Mozambique? Im looking for something thats not fenced - confirm you are from Niassa?

Thanks

David
 

DaveL

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Good to see some interesting content on here chaps.

While we are talking about leopard and how to judge him from his track, it also reminded me that often we don't have the benefit of a clear track whereby to judge Mr Spots. Before the advent of trail cameras we had to do some old fashion detective work and figure out the relative size of the cat by looking at other clues. Once the bait is hit, the way the cat has fed (eg if the ribs have been hammered or just eaten around) and the amount it has consumed can tell us a heck of a lot about the leopard. Obviously if the cat has demolished the bait, its in your best interest to build a blind and check that spotted fellow out!

Another good indicator for me is the size and depth of the claw marks he leaves on the tree trunk when he scales up to the bait.

You guys have any other gems I don't know about? Would love to hear them!
 

CAustin

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Very informative thread folks. @reedy0312 are you paying attention?
 

DaveL

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Judging the cat on tracks and sign left behind is one thing, but once that blind is built (that's a whole another topic) and we are comfortably ensconced in what we hope is a fool proof hide, I always go over a checklist in my mind for when that cat gets in the tree. The track looks good, he has left good sign on the bait and surrounds - now its time to see him in the flesh and judge for yourself whether he is a good cat. I run through criteria that the leopard needs to meet before I okay the pulling of the trigger. More often than not once that Tom gets in the tree it is so easy to be distracted by the awesome spectacle that is Panthera pardus, that one might tend to momentarily forget why we are there - to get a great cat! Hence I go through my checklist quickly from rear to front of cat: Does he have nuts? The crucial question! Not only does he have a pair but do they look like a pair of golden golf balls stuck out the back or a pair of raisins that you struggle to see. The fact he has nuts doesn't make him a shooter - beware! Second, is his tail root thick? Thirdly, does he have a deep chest and muscular fore quarters? Fourth, does he have a thick neck and big head? Are his ears small in relation to the size of his head? Does he have that 'pumpkin' head that a trophy Tom should have? Often you get a cat that you can just see straight away is a tank. Other times excitement gets the better of me and I need to calm down and run through my checklist methodically albeit quickly! This might all be hard to see and judge if he is bouncing around the branch trying to position his scoff. And to complicate matters further, you often have to do this in low light or the dark with artificial light! Its not the easiest task to do but its sure as hell
exhilarating.
Do our members have any other tricks of the trade they've learnt from their Pros over the course of their safaris?
 

siml

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@DaveL, your point on the check list is excellent advice, don't think a PH can go wrong with that advice.
 

spike.t

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Would anyone have pictures of Leopard scat to share here?

jerome only photo i have

Image0014.jpg
 

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Hunting cats is my passion. We're so use to relying on trail cams today that we tend to lose something of the hunt.
About 2 years ago I was hunting a Leopard with a client. We had multiple cats on bait and things were looking good.
a Massive cat that I knew frequented the area regularly , hit one of our baits that was being fed on by a young cat. BIG tracks , long stride and an appetite to make body builder jealous. Standing around under the zebra bait and admiring how this cat had destroyed it , the hunter asked me is this was our cat. I told him it sure looks like it but we'll see what the trail cam says. We freshened up the bait with a quarter zebra. In the process of hanging this huge piece of meat and resetting the camera with a fresh card my head tracker whom have been with me for 24 years started small talk. " Big Ngwe this one " he said. " Yes " I replied " looks very Big "
" maybe he will be as big as that one we hunted with so and so on the xxx river " he said. " I think he will " I replied.
He looked at me sternly and said " do you remember when we had no cameras , we looked only at tracks and sign and we decided together on that if we were going to hunt this cat or not ? we were very successful. I don't like the camera . "
I asked him why he doesn't like the camera. " because it makes us think twice , when we know what we know is right. "
I had to smile. He was right off course. It is a great tool but can only confirm what we see in the sign left by the cat.
" It tells us the time the cat was here and how long " I countered . " Yebo , he said , but what do you think he will do tonight ?" I told him I thought the cat would come early today to claim his prize , seeing the other male is around and Zebra is candy to a cat .
" You see" , he said , " the camera can not tell us that. " " Do we prepare everything for sitting tonight sir ? " he asked " Yes " I replied . He smiled and started final preparations of the shooting lane and other little things as he had done so many times before.

We shot the cat on last light. He weighed 209 pounds.
 

spike.t

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He looked at me sternly and said " do you remember when we had no cameras , we looked only at tracks and sign and we decided together on that if we were going to hunt this cat or not ? we were very successful. I don't like the camera .

jan kinda with him on that but then i still have a 7 year old nokia....;)
 

spike.t

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375 Ruger Fan

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@DaveL : Great topic and very interesting information.
 

Supercat

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Hunting cats is my passion. We're so use to relying on trail cams today that we tend to lose something of the hunt.
About 2 years ago I was hunting a Leopard with a client. We had multiple cats on bait and things were looking good.
a Massive cat that I knew frequented the area regularly , hit one of our baits that was being fed on by a young cat. BIG tracks , long stride and an appetite to make body builder jealous. Standing around under the zebra bait and admiring how this cat had destroyed it , the hunter asked me is this was our cat. I told him it sure looks like it but we'll see what the trail cam says. We freshened up the bait with a quarter zebra. In the process of hanging this huge piece of meat and resetting the camera with a fresh card my head tracker whom have been with me for 24 years started small talk. " Big Ngwe this one " he said. " Yes " I replied " looks very Big "
" maybe he will be as big as that one we hunted with so and so on the xxx river " he said. " I think he will " I replied.
He looked at me sternly and said " do you remember when we had no cameras , we looked only at tracks and sign and we decided together on that if we were going to hunt this cat or not ? we were very successful. I don't like the camera . "
I asked him why he doesn't like the camera. " because it makes us think twice , when we know what we know is right. "
I had to smile. He was right off course. It is a great tool but can only confirm what we see in the sign left by the cat.
" It tells us the time the cat was here and how long " I countered . " Yebo , he said , but what do you think he will do tonight ?" I told him I thought the cat would come early today to claim his prize , seeing the other male is around and Zebra is candy to a cat .
" You see" , he said , " the camera can not tell us that. " " Do we prepare everything for sitting tonight sir ? " he asked " Yes " I replied . He smiled and started final preparations of the shooting lane and other little things as he had done so many times before.

We shot the cat on last light. He weighed 209 pounds.

Do you have a pic of that huge cat??
 

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