ZIMBABWE: High Adventure With Mbalabala Safaris In Makuti - Buffalo & Leopard

thriller

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Makuti safari area

Mbalabala safaris

Dates June 1-June 16

Ph: Tinie Kok, Lindon Stanton, Dean Peel and Kanjan Dawie

4 hunters

Day 1

The first thing we did as always was shoot the rifles, a 300 win mag and 458 win mag. After confirming that the rifles were in fact sighted in and the airlines had not broken them for us, we headed off to check baits and cameras across the concession.

The concession sits in the Zambezi escarpment near the town of Makuti and has beautiful mountains and valleys that are filled with Buffalo, Leopard, Lion, and Elephant. During our time there the grass was tall making hunting challenging but exciting with close encounters on buffalo and cats comfortable coming onto baits.

After we checked some of the baits we found that we had a total of 7 leopards on day one feeding with 4 males.

Later that morning we saw and I shot a zebra at about 50 yards for bait. This was close to the road I only walked about 50 yards but on Day 1 of a Leopard hunt, one does not argue with a gift Zebra for baits.


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After shooting the zebra we ran it back to camp to be skinned and quartered for baits and checked cameras. The next bait that we checked had 2 good-sized males that we wanted to look at feeding on it. So we built a blind which is a really cool experience for this Alabama boy to watch. Then, we sat down at around 3:30- 4:00 pm and waited. After about an hour we hear a stick break and there are a couple of elephant cows about 30-40 yards from the blind. We quietly wait and hope that they will leave which they thankfully did without an incident or disturbance. At this point, dark is closing in and we hear the magic sounds of claws on wood! We are at 40 yards and the male is on the bait. After a few tense moments, Tinie said that the male is too young but only by a year or so. Getting to watch him in the dying light was a cool experience, and after about 5-10 minutes that felt like a year, he left.
We are really losing light now but thanks to the good folks at Swarovski I can still see clearly. That’s when I see through the scope another male has hopped on the bait but with the low light, we cannot be sure that it is not the same male. So we pass when we check the cameras the next day it turns out that the second male was a larger cat and we had in fact seen 2 males on day one.
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thriller

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I am having some transcription errors bear with me while I sort this out. and i will get more of the story and pictures posted.
 

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Nice start! Looking forward to this report!
 

MMAL

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Awesome start. Makuti is a special area. I hunted there with Mbalabala in 2018. Keep it coming please.
 

rinehart0050

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Great start! 7 leopards on bait!! Wow!
 

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Keep em coming !!!
 

thriller

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Day 2

First thing, we check the bait we sat on the evening the day before this is when we realize it was in fact two separate cats that we saw. After this, we go and check the bait on the Moto river to see a big male is coming in, in broad daylight averaging between 2 and 4 pm. This is exciting news so we hung a fresh zebra quarter and build a blind at 81yards from the bait.

Pictures of bait hanging bait and building the blind
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After the blind was finished, we took our seats in the blind at 10:30 am and plan to sit until he shows. We sit in the blind for several hours and eat a quick lunch in the blind before it gets to be the time the cat usually makes his appearance. After several hours we hear the Francolin to our left start to make a fuss and we hope that it is our boy coming in for an afternoon feast.

Leopard in the tree before the shot
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At 2:10 pm we see him get in the tree and watch him for about 20 minutes. I will never understand how a cat of the size of a leopard can climb 30 ft up a tree and not make a single sound that we could hear from our blind. After about 20 minutes we confirm this was the correct cat and not any of the others seen on the camera. and when this was confirmed and I got the thumbs up I got on the gun.

The Leopard was feeding with his arms stretched out in front of him. After waiting for what felt like an hour but was probably 5 minutes he stood offering a perfect broadside shot. At this point, I took the shot and hit him on the back edge of the shoulder smashing the offside shoulder, and he fell from the tree upside down head first maybe 30 ft to the ground. The shot felt good and looked good but that doesn’t always mean it was good so no matter what we have seen we tune our ears and start mentally preparing to follow the cat up in long grass.

This is when the tension starts we wait and listen, but hear nothing after 15 minutes, and the minutes tick by like years. Eventually, we back out to get the cruiser and the trackers. We are fairly sure the cat is dead but you can never be too careful. At this point, everyone is checking weapons and putting scopes on the lowest setting. Also, the game scout racks his AK47. Things are getting geared up.

The speargrass at the bottom of the bait tree is about 5 ft tall. I am within view of the bait tree but cannot see the base of it due to the thickness of the grass. Due to the amount of grass Tinie and his head tracker Nixon head in to take a look, and I am asked to stay in the rack of the cruiser. (30 yards from the tree) Obviously, this is a pretty tense moment. They cover ten yards in about 10 minutes looking and listening. Then I see the rocks starting to fly from Nixon and Tinies gun pointed at a stationary point under the tree. A few more rocks later and a smile on their faces and back-slapping let me know that the leopard was indeed dead at the base of the tree!!

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That’s when the party started and let me tell you with 10 guys around the fire (4 hunters,4 PHS, the appy, and Doug) in camp we had one hell of a time!

Due to delays in flights two of our party arrived while we were in the leopard blind checked their rifles and headed into the bush. One of these two guys who I will refer to as the reverend and the choir boy (far from a real reverend or choir boy but I will explain that later) it was the Reverend's first trip to Africa and he managed to put down 2 Buffalo and a hyena the same afternoon I shot my leopard. So he was in the mood to celebrate as well. I am waiting on photos from him to add and the story written by him to add as well.
 

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thriller

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to those who may be able to help the picture at the bottom will not insert properly it goes under the heading "Leopard in the tree before the shot"
 

cpr0312

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Awesome!!! Day 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Congrats on a nice leopard, looking forward to more!
 

Riksa

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Great start for the hunt. And awesome pictures. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the rest
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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And this is just the start of the report.....congrats!!!
 

buck wild

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Cool !
 

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And...off to a great start, please keep it coming :A Popcorn:
 

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I know you realize that Gods of hunting - normally a capricious lot - gave you an incredible gift on your second day hunting leopard. Congratulations on a wonderful cat.
 

thriller

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I know you realize that Gods of hunting - normally a capricious lot - gave you an incredible gift on your second day hunting leopard. Congratulations on a wonderful cat.
I could not and still cannot believe how lucky we were on this we sat twice and laid eyes on 3 males and got a shot at 2:30 pm on day 2!!!! Thank you very much I am still working out notes on the rest of the hunt but it was an incredible trip.
 

Kevin Peacocke

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Thriller, when you say you were on the Moto river, was that the section between the tar road and the Zambezi, in other words north of the road?
 

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What a great story and a wonderful trophy! Congrats!!
 

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Wow! What a start to your hunt! Congratulations!

Looking forward to the rest of the story
 

thriller

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Thriller, when you say you were on the Moto river, was that the section between the tar road and the Zambezi, in other words north of the road?
Yes it was northwest from the tar road if I mapped this out correctly
 

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