Lifetime bronze benefactor
Earlier this year as I was planning a third try for leopard I figured it was time to change tactics. I got in contact with Martin Pieters and told him I wanted a hound hunt in Zim. We debated the pros and cons and decided to hire PH Scott Bailey from Bulawayo to guide me in the Matopos area for a leopard hunt with hounds. Scott has extensive experience with leopard and hunting all over Zim for DG. My safari started June 19 and from the day I hit the ground we had bad news. A big leopard that Scott had patterned was killed by hyenas just before I arrived. Now the territories were all changed as new males encroached on the area. With prebaiting done for several days before my arrival all baits were cold and little sign. On day 4 we finally had a gorgeous female and two big cubs feeeding and the excitement was building. Then a 2 year old male joined them for a few nights but kept his distance. No doubt her cub from a couple years ago. The trail cam pics were really cool! Along the way there were some old tracks of big male leopard but we were not finding them. After many miles driven and walked and baits hung and checked we had no gotten to put the dogs to work at all. I was getting frustrated as the safari was well past half done but as hunters we must have patience especially with big cats. Day seven arrived and it would prove to be a day that will never be forgotten by anyone in attendance. About 8:30AM after checking the bait the female and young had been on a curious big male track came near but not all the way to the bait. He walked up about 15 yards from the bait as best the trackers could see then headed off. We had a cold morning, no moon, and some moisture on the ground and a tiny sprinkle of rain working in our favor for this day. We found the tracks crossing the road or should I say the hounds did. They sounded off quite loudly and the hair on my neck stood up. We had a shot at a leopard! After gathering all trackers and vehicles we started on a good trail about 9:30. The cat was obviously hunting and backtracking over and over wasting precious time. The dogs went quiet for an hour but the trackers found the spoor and here we go again. This happened many times with wind and warm temperatures working against us. At noon I assumed we were done. All quiet. Then the trackers find more tracks and they were not headed for the big koppies or hills this area is know for and we knew he stayed in the area somewhere. The dogs got louder and faster until they led us to a very small koppie where the fight began. We were running keeping up with the hounds not wanting to lose any chance we had on this dwindling Safari. The cat stopped to fight under a tree and we moved into position about 30 yards from the yellow hatred filled beast! The PH says there he is under the tree take him! As I acquired him in my scope he came on a full charge and I fired striking him in the mouth and into the lower chest. Not a flinch from the 300 grain Nosler Accubond from my .375 Ruger. (My heart rate is out of control as in retell this story that I would like to forget) I did what many do in a dangerous situation and I know better but somehow the surprise and fear caused me to short stroke the bolt. I was ready to blast that beast in the face point blank but I needed a half of a second more to load the next shell. Scott fires 400 grains at very close range from his .416 into the back of the cats head (missed the skull somehow) and into the neck doing great damage but not stoping the cat. I was ready to take my next shot but time ran out. The cat was headed straight for me with Scott, on my right side he hit the cat with his gun. As soon as Scott moved to strike the cat the focus was on him and the big tom leopard grabbed his left arm and went down. I swung to aim at the cat on the ground and making sure I was clear of Scott I fired and he cat released his arm and lay there dead. I was saved by my PH's actions and will forever be grateful to him. Of course the gentlemen he is he insists I saved his as well by making the last shot! After I fired that last shot my mind instantly recoiled in fear "did I hit far enough away from my PH?" Now to assess the damage. Wow in a second or two seconds max Scott's left arm was riddled with massive puncture wounds and needed major attention. We were two hours walk to the vehicle, an hour from camp from the cars, then 3 or more hours to a hospital. I think it's safe to say we were all in shock. Scott was bandaged up by the trackers, I took a couple not so good trophy pics, and off we went GPS in hand through the thorns and mopane scrub to the vehicles. The cat was shot at 2:00 we made it to the vehicles about 4:00 then camp as the sun was going down. I helped Scott clean his wounds and try to bandage them up.
More to come! This is all I can do today.
More to come! This is all I can do today.
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