NAMIBIA: ZAMBIA: Namibia & Zambia, The Tale Of Two Leopards

Love the big Tom and that trail cam photo is priceless. Congratulations on a successful hunt in a fascinating place.
I have really enjoyed the story of the two leopards. Having hunted Mr. Spots successfully, the ups and downs and the emotion is palpable in your tale (of tails). Congratulations!!
You know what I truly cherish about this group, is the truly genuine appreciation we have for the success of the hunt. This is something special that they will never understand. Thank you to all my friends here.
Day 3

Since we had a late night, we slept in. I was up at 8 for coffee. Peter was busy with the game scout recording all the pertinent data of the leopard. He weighed in at a stout 81.7 Kilograms (almost 180 pounds).

After a huge breakfast we went out about 10:30 to go retrieve the blind and check the other baits.
It was a beautiful, relaxing day in the bush, all the pressure is off now with both leopards in the salt.
We ran all 11 baits and found three had been hit so fresh meat was hung. It amazes me the number of leopards here. This is absolutely the most densly populated area for leopard i have ever encountered.

We got back to camp just after sunset and had another great meal then relaxed by the fire.
Day 4

Today we traveled to a farm near Grootfontein to hunt Eland, Angolan Impala and assorted plainsgame.

We got out of camp at 8:30 and arrived in Grootfontein three hours later. Peter dropped us off at a cafe so we could have lunch and catch up on messages.

The drive was less than an hour from Grootfontein to the farm where we were met by the owners Tobias and Poula. A charming couple with a beautiful camp on a beautiful property. The farm is large, with over 22 kilometers of winding grass filled by the river bottom flanked by palms and camel thorn acacia trees. The trackers offloaded our gear in the comfortable chalets while we had afternoon tea.

Just before three we went for a drive-in search of Angolan (Black faced) Impala. It wasn’t long before we started seeing rams and ewes. Chris spotted a nice male so off we went in pursuit with Polous in the lead.

The low, blackthorn acacia is very thick, and we made our way the best we could, but the Ram eluded us.

We carried on looking at several others along with some waterbucks, warthog, springbok and zebra. An hour or so later we spotted a nice Impala Ram in the bush so hopped off the car and made a way around to see the Ram.

He has seen the vehicle so stayed motionless. We moved slowly to the side and got to a point where we could clearly see his head and horns. I got on the sticks and confirmed he is a mature Ram so waited for an opportunity. He was facing left and there was a small gap in the bush so I slid over about a meter and waited.

A few moments later he relaxed and took a couple of steps, and I had a clear picture of his shoulder. I lowered the crosshairs and began to squeeze. The 300 Win Mag barked, and I saw the Ram drop.

When I got up to the Impala I was amazed at the body size. They are larger than the other subspecies of Impala I have collected and are a stunningly beautiful animal.
Angolan Impala.jpg

It saddens me that I won’t be able to import the skin and horns as the US Fish & Wildlife Department will not allow it. Hopefully one day they will realize the success of saving many species comes from the dedication and funds that private landowners provide.

Back in camp we enjoyed a sundowner, dinner then bed.
Day 5

I was up at six to have coffee with my youngest daughter, she and Chris will leave just before sunrise to track an eland.

It’s cold this morning, in the low 40’s so I stayed by the fire sipping my coffee Once the Sun got up a bit, we set out in search is Giraffe.

By ten we found a herd with an old bull so decided to make a stalk. He moved away into the thorn bush, and I could only see the top three feet of his neck and head. We were a bit over a hundred yards when Peter said, “shoot him in the ear”. I was up on the sticks already and as the bull turned sideways, I squeezed the trigger. I could see him falling instantly after the gun went off, so I knew it was a good shot.

As we made our way to him, Peter saw the old bull lift his head and try to get up. We ran up and I put a finisher on the shoulder.

While we waited for the car, we were casually talking and suddenly the bull was on his feet and coming for Peter. Peter turned and ran while I put two more shots in the bull. Wow, I never expected this to happen with a head shot. Apparently, the shot entered the ear and exited below the opposite ear but missed the brain and spine.

The crew of five showed up and after taking pictures they began skinning and quartering the bull.
We picked up my daughter and Chris then went back to camp for lunch. They got on to some eland but there was no big bull.

The afternoon plan is for Chris and my youngest daughter to stay on eland while I hunt with my eldest daughter for Black Wildebeest.

About 3:30 we spotted a nice lone Black Wildebeest bull, so a stalk ensued. By four the 30-06 cracked and we clearly heard the report of a solid hit! A dandy old bull after photos and such we took him back to the camp to be skinned.

Tobias said we should go sit at a machan overlooking the waterhole where we saw the two waterbuck bulls the previous evening. As the sun began to sink, a herd of zebras came in for a drink. Some time later I could see movement in the far tree line and a big porcupine emerged and came to drink. Then, as if it appeared from thin air a nice kudu bull pushing 54” materialized in front of us and came for a drink.

As the sun started to sink, a black backed jackal came in for a drink. He spent quite a while at the pan but was very nervous, constantly raising his head looking back towards the way he came from.
Peter then said “listen, did you hear that? The raspy sound of leopard in the distance”.

A little before six we heard the distinct, raspy grunt of a leopard. It happened again and again; he was getting closer. Shortly after six he showed up coming to water. What an incredible site, I was able to get a short video before he noticed us in the machan and slinked away.

At last light we left the machan and made way for camp. Poula made a great meal of eland steaks, potatoes and vegetables. I called it before ten and had a warm shower then hit the sack. What an amazing day!
Day 6

This morning we headed out in search of Waterbuck and eland. It was a slow morning mostly seeing steenbok and the occasional springbok.

Around 10:30 we started back for camp to pack up and head to the concession to hunt elephant.
Just before 11 we spotted some Waterbuck cows about 300 yards away so off the cruiser they went and made a stalk.

Less than 10 minutes later we heard the shot and report of a solid hit, so we waited a few minutes then made our way the in the cruiser.

When we reached them we could see they were tracking so we waited back. At the next moment Polous came running to the vehicle to get Peter’s gun. We drove to them and found the bull had been shot a bit far back so they would need to track him.

My daughter is down on herself and I tried to explain to her this is part of the sport. The more you hunt, there will be a shot that will not go as planned. So now you have to do your best to find him and finish it. Peter told her not to worry that they will find the bull.

11:24. It’s been about a half hour since the shot, Polous took a pack with water bottles and they got on the tracks. Melcom replayed the video and it showed the shot was far back. It was unfortunate, but that’s part of hunting.

We went in for a quick lunch then back to the field with several trackers to stay on the bulls tracks.

After several hours tracking, the bull was never seen again. At sunset we headed to camp for a warm shower and nice meal.

A tough lesson learned today. My daughter said she got caught in the moment and rushed the shot. As we discussed it at length, I reminded her that it’s your Safari and don’t ever feel you need to rush. You shoot only when you are ready. If the animal walks away, so be it.

Day 7

We will change camps today, going back to the Bushmanland concession to hunt elephant. This was not planned but when the leopard was taken on day two, Peter said he had a cancellation and there is one tag left.

We finally got on the road just after 10 and stopped for lunch in Grootfontein. Back on the road and we arrived in camp about 2:30. The staff had prepared a nice salad and after a quick bite the girls, Peter and Melcom were off to sit at a pan for eland.

Deb and I stayed back in camp and relaxed and enjoyed the sunset.

The girls returned about forty dove minutes after sunset and we had dinner shortly thereafter.
Tomorrow we will change camps and start the elephant hunt.
Day 8

Everyone rested well last night and after a full breakfast the cars were loaded and we hit the road.

After a couple of stops we arrived in the Ondjou camp about two. Ondjou (the Herero word for elephant) Conservancy and after unpacking we enjoyed a nice lunch of grilled pork chops, chips and a salad.

Peter said we would leave at three and check some pans. Abiliu has been scouting and finding sign of bulls at a couple of different locations.

At one pan, he found large tracks but these bulls are watering at night. So we will be there at first light tomorrow.

There is a far pan where some elephant are known to water in the last hour of the day so we will set up some distance from the water and wait. Herdsmen on horseback came and went for the next couple of hours and they all moved out before sunset. No elephants came in so we set forth for camp.

Another great meal and a short night then to bed. I have elephant hunted before and I know it takes hard work and perseverance so I am in for the challenge. Lets see what the future holds.
Day 9

Up at 5 out at 6:30 to go catch up with Abiliu. He left camp about 5:30. We checked several pans but there was no fresh sign. We stopped for brunch a little before eleven and just about the time we were finished we got a call that Abiliu had been tracking a group of bulls since daylight.

An hour later we finally made comms again and we need to go to Kashe the tracker and he would then put us on the track. We got to him by 12:35 and then took off to join Abiliu. It took another hour to reach him and we then took the tracks where he last saw the bulls.

The bush was very thick and there was a lot of fresh elephant sign. Nearly an hour later Kashe stopped and motioned off to our right and Polous confirmed, they heard the elephant. We carried on keeping the wind in our favor staying on the tracks.

Polous stopped, then plunged his finger into a large pile of elephant dung and had a big smile on his face and whispered something. It was hot, we are close. We moved slowly and fifty odd meters forward and the bulls were spotted under the shade of a big tree.

We moved forward and around keeping the wind in our favor and trying to get a clear look at them.

The first bull Peter pointed out had a massive head, he estimated 20”+ around but only 18-20” out. I made a motion I had no interest in that bull.

The bush was immensely thick with a variety of thorn bushes. Now we are inside thirty meters and we moved like snails. The bulls fed unaware of our presence so we continued to study the other four bulls. When we finally made it all the way around the bull on the far right turned his head and I saw the long tusk. I turned to Melcom and whispered “now we’re talking!”

I made sign language to Peter if he has seen two tusks. He motioned he has not. He studied the tusk and indicated he was not heavy. I asked what he thought and he wrote on the hand 18” lip 3 1/2 feet out. I have the thumbs up once we can confirm two tusks.

At this point we are 15 meters from the closest bull. Peter starts to back out so we can move around and look at the bull I was interested in and just as he walked, the closest bull locked in on us and I poked Peter in his back so he froze.

It seemed like an eternity but probably less than two minutes and the bull looked away from us. He then slowly turned and they all started to walk away.

We were quick behind them as they were not running, just casually walking. The group of bulls got out of the thick stuff and I caught a brief glimpse of the bull I wanted and saw his left tusk - the confirmation I needed.

I said to Peter, “come here, around this bush I saw the bull and he has two tusks”.

We stepped around quickly and he was strolling from left to right forty meters and Peter looked at him and said “shoot!”

I said “where”? He said “on the crease of the shoulder”. I raised the CZ in 458 Win Mag and put the crosshairs on the crease and let it fly. The bull wheeled around to his left and I got another shot in him as he moved away.

Peter got one shot off as the bull disappeared into the thick bush then I heard one of the other trackers said “he’s down”. The bull went about eighty yards so I quickly came around and put in a finisher.

He’s a beautiful old bull, his tusks the shape I truly prefer. After pictures we had a 3.5 kilometer walk out to a road where Polous will come and fetch us.

Melcom said according to his watch we walked almost seven kilometers to reach the bull. In total, 6.5 miles today and my knees were shot when we reached the road. It took Polous about two hours to reach us and we arrived Camp just after sunset.

The staff had set a nice celebration up at the sundowner spot and I was greeted by my two beautiful daughters. I feel so blessed my best friend , my wife stayed with me to the end so we could share this amazing hunt together. Unfortunately, the girls had decided to stay back in camp today as they missed all the action.

We toasted to the success of the hunt but most of all the gift of the elephant. This bull will provide much needed protein for the people of the Ondjou.

Dinner was fabulous followed by whiskey and cigars at the fire to cap off a great day. I’d had sufficient by eleven and called it. After a hit shower and three Advil, I was out like a light.
Outstanding trophies for all. Namibia is a special place. I had the pleasure of having Abiliu as my tracker back in 2000 when I made my first trip to Africa.
Another great looking leopard! Congrats to your daughters!
Day 10

I was up with sunrise, still feeling it a bit in my knees from the walk yesterday. The sandy soil here makes walking more difficult. It’s almost like walking on beach sand in the elephant trails.

One of the staff brought coffee after sunrise and we finally rolled out of bed an hour later.

Today we will go and recover the elephant. Peter’s staff along with some labor from the village will skin and dress the elephant so the meat can be distributed.

There were about twenty-six people in total and it took nearly the entire day to cut in the road and process the bull. I could see the fiery red Sun setting in the rear-view mirror as we made our way out of the bush to the main road.

About halfway we hit a stretch of soft sand and the heavily loaded Landcruiser and trailer got bogged down and stuck. Abiliu came around us and they put a tow strap between the cruisers and after several attempts we got to harder ground.

When we reached the main road there were people waiting for us with sacks and wheelbarrows. The smiles on their faces were priceless, something I will never forget.

Ele meat.jpg

It’s dark before me we reached the main village so we went on to camp and the plan is to deliver the meat in the morning.

I was the last one at the fire, reminiscing about the day. My thoughts went back to my childhood and all of the hunts I’ve been on. We always ate what we hunted and that’s how Debra and I raised our kids.

In my opinion an elephant is the greatest game animal and hunting one is a special event, a privilege. But this time I have a different feeling of satisfaction to know that so many people will benefit from the success of my hunt.

Day 11

I woke to the sound of birds chirping and the thin slivers of sunlight coming through the tent windows. Just as I was finishing my morning prayers, I heard Angelique say “Good Morning” and the coffee was delivered.

After a full breakfast we went to the village to deliver the meat. In addition, we are taking two bags of supplies to the local school.

We spent an hour or so watching the meat distribution which was carried out in an orderly fashion. The men, women and children all waited at the gate with their sacks and buckets while the meat was being cut and handed out by six men.

Elephant dist.jpg

Back to camp we packed our gear and had a light lunch before hitting the road. We drove to the Nachana camp to overnight before moving to Otjiwarongo to hunt Damaraland Dik Dik.
Day 12

We had a leisurely morning with coffee in our tent then breakfast at nine. Once finished, the bags were loaded on the car, and we said our goodbyes to the staff.

It will take about three and a half hours with a brief stopover at the taxidermist in Grootfontein.
Of course, we had to have coffee with the taxidermist so that added an hour to the trip.

We finally arrived in Otjiwarongo after three and had a late lunch at the Wimpy.
By now it’s four so we offloaded the luggage at a guest house in town and went to the farm to visit with the owner. He and Peter grew up together in South Africa so when they get a chance to visit and catch up, they always appreciate it.

Everyonbe had a lovely visit at his beautiful farmhouse overlooking the hills in the distance and said our goodbyes at sunset. Back in Otjiwarongo we went to a nice Italian restaurant and had pizza and a pinotage.

We called it a night at about nine and took advantage of the internet to catch up on emails.
Tomorrow we will go back to the farm once the sun is up and hunt the Damaraland Dik Dik.

Day 13

I was up just before sunrise and had coffee in the room before going to breakfast. Peter and Melcom were already there, and the girls weren’t far behind me. I had a light breakfast and we got packed up and left around nine.

We met the owner of the farm at his house and Peter got out the Ruger 77 in 22 Hornet and we went hunting. They only take two Dik Dik per year on this huge cattle farm, so the population is very good.

The Dik Dik being territorial, the farmer took us to a particular patch of bush he has seen an old male with two females quite often.

We drove for less than an hour and I mentioned to Melcom this patch of bush reminds me of the place I hunted Dik Dik in Masailand. Not five minutes later Polous tapped their roof and said “Dik Dik”.

I looked through the 10x Leupold scope and could see his head only in the thorn scrub, but he had good horns for sure. Peter got out and looked with his binoculars and the Dik Dik ran.

I got off the truck and on the sticks with Melcom behind me. Melcom said “there he goes to the left” and I could see flashes of movement as he ran through the patchy scrub. He stopped behind a bush and all I could see was his hindquarter.

Polous wanted to walk up a bit and just then I saw him take a step and disappear then I said “wait, he stepped forward and I can’t see him”.

Not twenty seconds later he stepped out and looked at us, almost straight on but slightly quartering. Peter said, “shoot him sir, he’s a good male”.

I tried to settle the crosshairs but it’s a small target at nearly a hundred meters. Once I hit steady, I started the squeeze and the little hornet cracked and we instantly heard the report of a sold hit.

The Dik Dik was down, and I was ecstatic. I rushed to see him and what a beautiful little antelope they are. After handshakes and photos, I said to the girls as I passed my flask “it’s over now with this Dik Dik, it is the end of the Safari”.
Dik Dik.jpg

The farmer invited us for a coffee while Polous skinned the animal then we got on the road and headed for Windhoek. We reached Windhoek in the late afternoon just in time for Melcom to get to the airport and fly home. Everyone said their goodbyes and he was whisked off to catch his flight.

Peter dropped us at a small hotel and we relaxed a bit before going to dinner. Windhoek continues to grow and I see changes every time I visit. I guess growth is inevitable.
Very cool that your daughter got her leopard and you have a great photo of it in the tree. Might make for an excellent pose for a full body mount.
What a great safari with your family. Congratulations all around, and thanks for sharing!
Day 14

Since we finished a day early and got back to Windhoek the girls wanted to do a bit of shopping. This took most of the afternoon and back at the hotel we had a nice lunch and sat by the pool before going to dinner. It’s been an amazing trip and all of the travel and excitement have caught up with me. We fly to Cape Town in the morning, so I called it an early night.

Days 15-17

The flight from Windhoek to Cape Town was on time and when we arrived our driver for the next couple of days named John was waiting for us outside of customs. John works for Magnas Tours and did a great job taking care of us during our time in the Western Cape.

The drive to Zorgvleit Wine Estate was less than an hour and once we got closer to Stellenbosch, vineyards became more visible. Our family stayed on the estate back in 2016 and we felt right at home on arrival.
Zorgvliet 2023.jpg

Once settled, we opened a bottle of wine and enjoyed the sun set on the patio. Afterwards we had an amazing meal in the restaurant with more of their lovely wines.

Since it is a small hotel (14 rooms plus the guest cottage we reserved) and it is low season we are the only guests at the hotel. The service was great, and I highly recommend staying here if you visit Stellenbosch.

John collected us each morning around eleven and took us to a few wineries for tastings.

Anthonij Rupert.jpg

The time spent sipping wine and reminiscing about the Safari was the perfect closure to a most memorable trip. Debra and I both agreed that this is something we will do again when on Safari in Southern Africa.
Day 18

The journey home began with an early flight out of Cape Town for Johannesburg where we will connect with Qatar for the long haul. All in all, the travel went fairly well. The Joberg to Doha flight got delayed so we didn’t have any time to relax in the lounge between flights, so I missed my chance for a shower and change of clothes. After one of the best airplane meals I have ever had (lobster thermidor) I slept well on the long haul back to Texas.

We touched down at DFW a few minutes late and customs was smooth for me as I utilize the Global Entry, so we got the car and headed home. It was almost surreal it seems like yesterday I was finalizing the plans for this trip and now it is over.

There were so many great times, I don’t know where to start. But the greatest of all was spending time with my family in several beautiful wild places, and experiencing so many of God’s blessings. My travels have taken me all over the African Continent the past four decades and I can say without hesitation, the best Safaris I have ever taken have been the ones with my family.

So many people contributed to the great success of this adventure I planned, “the tale of two leopards.” In no particular order, I want to thank the following people that helped us all along the way.

Strang Middleton for his dedication to the success of our first leg of the Safari. He is a great PH and has become a lifelong friend. We struggled a bit, but he kept a cool head and called on his years of experience to put the first leopard in the salt.

To Michael de Gre-Dejestam of Mbizi Safaris for his tireless attention to detail and commitment to his client’s comfort and success. Debra and I are already planning a return to the magical place as Michael has become a friend.

To Roedolph Minaar the pilot with Desert Air Namibia for his professionalism and delivering us safely to Bushmanland.

To Peter Thormahlen of Thormahlen and Cochran Safaris for his planning and strategy to put my daughter on her leopard and complete the “tale of two leopards”. My family will always have a special relationship with him as we have shared some incredible moments together in the bush over the past sixteen years.

To Chris Joubert of Thormahlen and Cochran Safaris for his dedication to the success of the hunt both pre-baiting and guiding us on some of the plains game we hunted. I enjoyed his polite and positive demeanor and look forward to hunting with him again someday.

To John of Magnas Tours for caring for us the last few days of the trip, teaching us about the history of Stellenbosch and Franshoek. His knowledge of the area and wineries provided for some memorable tastings and an even greater appreciation for South African wines.

To Melcom Van Staden, the Rooikop Filmmaker for his tireless dedication to capturing the moment. The talent of his art continues to grow, and he provides a priceless service to his clients in preserving their experiences in perpetuity. I said to Melcom about halfway through the Safari, “you provide something that is worth more than taxidermy”. I absolutely believe in taxidermy to honor the quarry I have hunted and will never shy away from it. But what he gives me is something that will help my future generations understand who I was and what I was passionate about – the love of my family and the quest for adventure.

Finally, to my best friend and wife Debra for all the years putting up with my adventurous side. Without her, the “tale of two leopards” would have never taken place.
Thank your Sir for a long report and many photos. I am grateful for the successes you and your family experienced. Thanks for taking time to take us on the adventure with you!
Thank your Sir for a long report and many photos. I am grateful for the successes you and your family experienced. Thanks for taking time to take us on the adventure with you!
It’s my pleasure, I’ve learned over the years there is so much more to a Safari than the hunt.

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We had another bushfire on a neighbours place we need some summer rain!

My simple jackal rig , if it work dont mess with it

Badjer wrote on Dunderhead's profile.
Hello, I'm in Pewaukee. By the 5 O'Clock club, if you know where that is.
big Eland spotted on the plains this morning!