AH senior member
This hunt started on my way to DSC in January 2022 when I saw a thread posted by @NYAMAZANA SAFARIS for a Leopard hunt. I called Wayne Van Den Bergh, owner of Nyamazana Safaris. After asking a few questions I sent him my deposit and secured the trip. So I began for the next five months walking, shooting, and losing weight for this safari. I also decided to hunt for a week in RSA for a couple of animals that would help me on my quest to get the big 5 and the dangerous 7. The animals hunted in RSA were not available in Zimbabwe in the area where we would be hunting the leopard. I arrived in RSA on May 24 and began hunting. As I had made the decision to prebait for the leopard, I was getting updates from Wayne. About 3 days before I was going to Zimbabwe I got a text from Wayne that there was a leopard hitting the bait. My excitement began to build. For the next two days every day Wayne would text me and say the cat was still on the bait. Finally the day came to fly to Zimbabwe and after all the shenanigans at the airport I went out front and met Wayne. He told me we needed to hurry because we needed to hang a fresh bait as the leopard had hit the bait again the night before, and would finish the bait that night and probably leave the area. So we drove like a mad man and got there right at dark, and it was a good thing we got there because the old bait was almost gone. We refreshed the bait with a Zebra hindquarter. We then popped the chip out of the game camera and headed back to camp for a fine dinner and to look at the pictures. The game pictures clearly showed we had a large male leopard hitting the bait four nights in a row. The next morning we had a quick breakfast and headed to the bait tree to see if the leopard had hit the bait again and it had. He must have just been there because the bait was still dripping. Wayne then began the preparations. The microphone for the listening device and the shooting light were installed in a nearby tree. An eight foot wide shooting lane was cleared and a hunting blind was built. The blind was well constructed. Poles were dug into the ground, trees were slashed horizontally, then completely filled in with brush. The ground was leveled and all rocks were removed inside the blind. The floor of the blind consisted of a tarp, a blanket on top, two sleeping bags with pillows, Wayne's listening device and the shooting rest. A blanket was hung on the inside of the blind with two holes, one for Wayne to view, and one for me to shoot. We went back to camp for lunch and decided at 3:00 PM to go back to the blind to sit for the night. When we got to the blind that afternoon, we slipped off our boots, got into the blind, closed the door behind us and got ready to spend the night hunting leopard. We both began reading books and the waiting began. At dark when I couldn't see my book anymore, I laid back on my pillow, looked up at the sky, and listened to the sounds of the day animals become the sounds of the night animals. I could hear the rock rabbits, hyenas, and constant sounds of the bells of the Judas cows. I was thinking I was the luckiest guy in the world sitting here in Zimbabwe looking at the stars, listening to the sounds, and hunting leopard. As the night became darker, and the stars became brighter, I began to get cold and decided I should get into my sleeping bag. As I started to get in my bag I felt Wayne tap me on the shoulder and as I turned to look at him he whispered to me "the cats in the tree". The listening device had done its job as Wayne had heard the cat jump into the tree. I slowly and cautiously moved towards my rifle and got in position. Wayne leaned over and whispered to me are you ready, and I replied yes I am. As I looked through my 1X6X24 Trijicon Accupoint scope I could see the outline of the leopard. Wayne asked me again are you ready, and I replied yes I am. So he quickly dialed up the light and as he did I put my green dot behind the shoulder and squeezed the trigger just as he said shoot. This whole sequence took about 3-1/2 seconds. Wayne asked me how the shot felt, and I said it felt fine. At that point he grabbed his rifle and a flashlight and told me to stay in the blind and he headed down towards the bait. I am sitting in the pitch black looking for my boots and flashlight. I find my boots and put them on, but found out later I left my flashlight in the truck. As I fumbled for my flashlight, I thought I could hear Wayne calling my name. In a few seconds I saw the rest of the team coming down the road in the bakkie and they were obviously very happy. They stopped at the blind and we walked down towards the bait tree and I saw Wayne standing 20 yards back into the bush with a big smile on his face. As I walked up there I could see this magnificent animal laying on the ground. It was a perfect shot right through the engine block. After a bunch of high fives and hugs we loaded the leopard into the bakkie and went back to disassemble the hunting blind. As we were disassembling the blind we had two villagers walk up and they began talking to the trackers in Afrikaans. The trackers told me the two villagers had heard the shot and came down to see the leopard that had been killing their calves and to thank me for shooting it. Wayne later told me if we had not shot this leopard they would have probably poisoned it to prevent it from killing their calves. We went to the river, took a bunch of pictures, and headed to the skinning shed. On the way the men were singing in the back of the bakkie in honor of the leopard. We when we got to the skinning shed Wayne took his weights and measurements for the fish and game people and we headed back to camp to celebrate. We had several brandys, smoked a Cohiba, and decided to take the next day off to rest, because the day after that we were going to start our hunt for Jumbo. I slept very well that night.
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