After finishing my compulsory military service, I needed a break from hunting two legged problem animals, so I headed north. I had no responsibilities or family to report to so I headed to the bush. Zimbabwe to be exact. One of my mates who spent his time with me in the military had family in Karoi so we headed there. Passing Lions Den we stopped at the butchery that was situated close to the main road. There we bumped into a man with a long white beard, a raspy voice and what appeared to be a blind, glassed over left eye. He was well tanned and had backed his Land Rover into the back of the butchery that had a gantry and proceeded to winch up a big “Mombe”(cow/ox). The owner motioned us away, quietly explaining that the man was not very friendly and did not take lightly to strangers. Let’s call him Mr. A. We left and spent some time with my friends family in Karoi. Going on fishing excursions to Kariba, Chirundu and hunting in the surrounding bush on their and neighboring farms. Some time later we were invited along to a get together at some shooting club outside of Lions Den and we tagged along. When we got there there was a large congregation of local farmers. Quite a few rifles had been laid out on the range. Two big gun boxes(military style wooden boxes) containing rifles were off to one side. Mr. A appeared and unlocked one, removing a FN FAL assault rifle which he proceeded to lay out on a mat of sorts. The rest of the day was spent by the participants in a shooting competition and Mr.A despite the condition of his left eye had walked away with the prize for the particular event he had participated in. He wore a cap of some military unit he was a member of during the war. He only spoke to and mingled with certain people who were present and before the party started in earnest he had packed up and left. I started asking questions regarding this man and was told he was basically a loner, who farmed/ranched cattle at the last property on the far south west of Lions Den. He was also a PH and in hunting season would take foreign hunters out on safari. My ears pricked up. I was however told to forget about it as he did not tolerate strangers. He ranched with cattle I was told but it was a wild and unorganized affair with cattle running wild as well as a bunch of horses. When he needed cash he would shoot one and then deliver it to the Lions Den butchery, exactly what he was doing when we first saw him. I kept thinking about this man and his lifestyle. A while later we again met up with his direct neighbor who was actually the opposite type of farmer. He was one of the most successful, tobacco and maize farmers in the district and did everything to the T and his farm was very well organized and run. He also had a herd of stud cattle. At this get together at the country club, this neighbor informed us that Mr.A was having a lot of problems with leopards catching his calves and foals. I immediately offered my services to the neighbor. He tried to talk me out of it but I insisted I could help and was willing to go and see Mr.A. He offered to take me to Mr.A and introduce me but warned me that Mr.A did not like strangers and would probably chase me away. The next day the friendly neighbor took me over and sure enough Mr. A was not very friendly. After tea and some casual talk between him and the neighbor the neighbor mentioned that I was looking to help him out with his leopard problem. He stared at me and I tried to not look at his glassed over left eye and gave up, rather looking down at the floor. He then asked me what I know about hunting leopards? Nothing Sir was my reply but I had started hunting when I was 5 years old I have just come out of my military service and I was very keen, was my reply. This seemed to have him relax a little. But he said nothing further. Dammit I have blown it….. He and the neighbor carried on with conversation and I thought that was the end of that… As we where getting ready to leave Mr.A said, if you like you can come back with your stuff tomorrow, if you can kill a leopard in the first week I may give you an opportunity…I was overjoyed and could not stop talking all the way back to the neighbor ranch….it was going to be a long night as I was more excited than the night before my first parachute jump from a Dakota…..