Problem leopards, marauding lions and hyenas, crop raiding bulls, the start of DG hunting for me...

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by IvW, Dec 24, 2019.

  1. IvW

    IvW AH Legend

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    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…..
     
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  2. cmk

    cmk AH Veteran

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    Eagerly awaiting the rest. Merry Christmas!
     
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  3. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I'm beginning to like this "tease them" and "eave them hanging" story telling routine.
     
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  4. perttime

    perttime AH Enthusiast

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    Putting it all in one post wouldn't be all that good. Many good writers split their texts in manageable chunks.
     
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  5. Philip Glass

    Philip Glass AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    What a story. You’ve got my attention!
     
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  6. crudeoildude

    crudeoildude AH Veteran

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    me tooooo
     
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  7. Newboomer

    Newboomer GOLD SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    C'mon, you guys! Write! This suspense is killing me.
     
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  8. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    I’m hooked! Anxiously waiting for the next episode!
     
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  9. IdaRam

    IdaRam SILVER SUPPORTER AH Elite

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    Great start, looking forward to reading more :)
     
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  10. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Great start. I expect this to be an epic tale. Thanks for getting it started.
    Bruce
     
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  11. smokepole

    smokepole AH Senior Member

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    Great start. Now for the meat of the story. Merry Christmas to all.
     
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  12. chashardy

    chashardy AH Senior Member

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    Ok. I'm hooked. Good hunting with Mr. A.
     
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  13. Tra3

    Tra3 AH Enthusiast

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    Keep writing! And thank you!
     
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  14. cem rona ergin

    cem rona ergin AH Enthusiast

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    Oh man .. come on we all are waiting ... Merry Christmas to all..
     
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  15. IvW

    IvW AH Legend

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    I did not sleep much during the night and was up before the first birds started chirping announcing the beginning of a new day. I had stuffed my clothes into my army duffel bag called a “Balsak”, I was ready to go.

    The friendly neighbor suggested we wait so as not to upset Mr. A by arriving too early. Eventually we left and when we arrived Mr.A was sitting on the stoop having tea. He seemed friendlier than before. After more tea and the friendly neighbor left, I was shown a small room with its own door out onto the stoop this would be my room.

    After settling in Mr. A, came out with a rifle and said lets go. We headed off to the workshop and Mr. A fired up an ancient green Land Rover. The thing was called the “Green machine”, it would become a source of great frustration and many hrs spent in repairs just to keep it going over the next few years.

    There were three workers, one of which jumped onto the “Green machine” and we set off. His name was Tendai which means “be thankful” in Shona, little did I know that he would become my mentor and that I would be ever thankful to the lessons he taught me over the coming years.

    Mr. A explained that he had set up three baits for the problem leopards; two had been the remains of calves killed and the third a foal. The first bait was untouched but we had picked up the tracks of some jackals on the road.

    The second bait showed signs of something that had fed on it. Closer inspection revealed that honey badgers and a Civet cat had been at the bait.

    The third bait had been hit by a large leopard. Although I had never hunted leopard, I had read all the books I could find about hunting, in particular DG hunting. I found it odd that the bait had been tied to the trunk of a tree and the bottom part was basically at ground level. I did not ask questions, just listening.

    Some discussions went on between Tendai and Mr. A and the decision was made to construct a tree blind, about 30 meters from the bait. Again I found this odd, as all the books I read had always described a leopard blind being built on the ground and it was supposed to be an elaborate and well concealed affair and not a bird’s nest in a tree!

    On the way back to the workshop Mr. A stopped along the road. He handed me the rifle he had taken at the house and instructed me to take a shot at mark on a Maroela tree about a hundred yards away from where we had stopped.

    Now this rifle was an odd looking one. It was called the “Fun gun”, it was .308 Win caliber (same as the FN FAL ones Mr. A had used at the range), it had a barrel that had been donated from a Belgium FN machine gun and that had been machined down and fitted by some gunsmith, it had no iron sights, it had an excellent trigger, on the rifle stock it had a piece of much lighter wood than the original stock which had been screwed on with three brass screws, shaped and sanded down it would align the eye perfectly in line with the scope, it was a frightfully accurate piece of equipment.

    I lifted the rifle up and looked at the spot through the scope. I then chambered a round, took careful aim and being mindful of the fact that Mr. A was watching me, squeezed the trigger. The result was that the dark spot pointed out by Mr. A had become a white wood splintered one as the bullet impacted the point. Tendai had a wry smile and it appeared I had passed my “shooting test”, as Mr. A said lets go.

    Back at the workshop, we gathered wooden planks a few pallets and some wooden poles, nails, lots of wire and pliers. This was all crammed into the back of the Green Machine and we took off without Mr. A to build the blind. I was driving and with Tendai next to me I was much more relaxed and started asking him about why the bait was basically on the ground and not hung up in a tree?

    Tendai explained that in areas where hyena’s were not plentiful, a leopard would drag it’s kill under some thick bushes and cover it with grass and leaves instead of pulling it up into a tree. If the bait is moved a short distance and tied to a suitable tree at almost ground level the leopard would return, if the bait however was moved too far and pulled up a tree the leopard may well not return. Leopard hunting lesson nr. 1. In later years this tactic would be used with great success on Nuanetsi ranch.

    While we were constructing the platform in the chosen tree, Tendai further explained that they had chosen this tree because it was on the right side of the wind for the prevailing wind late afternoon and evening. Leopard hunting lesson nr. 2. After constructing the platform, the bottom was camouflaged with branches hung upside down.

    The final touch was a piece of fishing line, attached to the bait and run from there to our platform in the tree. What was this for I asked? Tendai explained that this was looped around your hand or foot, so you can sleep and when the leopard starts feeding it will wake you. Leopard hunting lesson nr. 3.

    We headed off to the house me expectant that we would sit tonight. No said Tendai on the way back, you never sit on bait if the leopard has only fed once, Leopard hunting lesson nr. 4.

    It was going to be another long night…..
     
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  16. DieJager

    DieJager AH Senior Member

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    Great story cannot wait for the rest of it!
     
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  17. sambarhunter

    sambarhunter AH Fanatic

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    Looking forward to more.
     
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  18. BobT

    BobT AH Fanatic

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    :D Pop Popcorn:
     
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  19. Mort Hill

    Mort Hill GOLD SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    Man oh man. Thanks @lvW for taking the time to share this yarn of years past. I am sitting on my porch, smoking a Christmas cigar, and hanging on every word of your recounting. Such a wonderful thing to be able to live vicariously through your past. Patiently awaiting your next learned lesson.....
     
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  20. spike.t

    spike.t AH ENABLER SPONSOR Since 2013 AH Ambassador

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