Operator: Mbalabala Safaris
Area: Omay North and outh
PH's: Lin Stanton and Tinie Kok
Both Steve and Rory had hunted Africa several times. Steve had been and hunted leopard but to no avail, Rory was after Hippo and Croc.
Steve and Rory arrived at Chifudze camp in the Omay south where we would be doing the leopard hunt and Rory would move down to the north Camp (Ume) to hunt his hippo and croc.
After checking weapons Steve and I helped the other hunters in camp recover a buffalo shot the day before. We offered our help so we could use the meat for bait.
That first day we checked several of our baits that I had put out a few days before the Safaris two female leopard had fed. Day two found us getting up early and heading to a place called Kapungashire where I had put two baits out for two different males that had been moving along a certain stretch of river. We got to the first bait at 8 am and found that a nice male leopard had fed we checked the camera but unfortunately for us it never took any pictures so we set up two cameras and left. The next morning we can back to check the camera. The pictures confirmed that he was a good cat and we should build a blind. Checking the times on the camera we saw that he was feeding at all hours of the day from 9 am throughout the day and night he was at the bait.
We spent the next hour or so building a blind and getting everything ready to sit. We did the normal checking the weapon at 45 yards to make sure it was dead on. We got into the blind a little before mid day.
At exactly 3 o’clock I heard him feeding over the listening device. We stood up and took our shoes off and started walking down the cleared path to the blind. Half way down we flushed a francolin it took off screeching as it fluttered away. We got to the blind and the cat had obviously disappeared with all the racket from the francolin. We returned to where the device was and waited again. At four thirty I said to Steve we had better get out of here at 5 pm and make another plan to return the following day as I thought we had spooked the cat. Five minutes to five the cat returned and started feeding. We walked up and thankfully no francolin this time! There he was sitting in the tree feeding in the late evening sun, he was magnificent. After admiring him for what seemed like minutes, I gave Steve the go ahead to shoot the cat. Boom!!! The cat leaped out the tree and ran off to the left of us. I followed the sound and heard a few grunts and the nothing he had stopped about 60 yards away. I assumed he was dead!!!
We walked back to the sit in blind chatting excitedly about the hunt and how he kept out the tree. We put our boots on and walked carefully to the bait,after examining the tracks and claw marks left from when he hit the ground I saw the blood. Good frothy blood told me it was a solid lung shot. We stalked through some low lying grass and Steve stopped me saying he could hear something 20 yards to our right. I thought it was a bird or something. We carried on heading away from the sound. We heard it again!! We were heading parallel to the sound so I just assumed it was something else. The blood spoor was good so we kept following very cautiously, the tracks and blood slowly started to via off to our right to where the sound was coming from. It was pretty open and I could see twenty yards ahead so I wasn’t worried to much and the blood was good. I took two more steps then we heard the grass and bush moving twenty five yards ahead then the leopard started growling and we realized that it wasn’t dead. There is something terrifying about the gurgled sound of a wounded leopard lying twenty yards in front of you!!!!!
Both, Steve and I decided to back out and call the trackers and the vehicle in. It was now closer to six in the evening and the light was fading fast. We couldn't wait for the truck we had to go in now and find him or the hyenas would surely get him.
We stalked up to about fifty yards where I could see the bush he was laying in. It was in a small ravine with some thick tall grass behind. We threw a few rocks and nothing, we crept forward and threw a few more and nothing. It felt like it took us half an hour to cover twenty yards but in realty it was only a few minutes, we were both pumped full of adrenaline expecting the cat to charge out of a bush at any second. We eventually got to within ten yards of the bush and managed to step up on a small tree and spotted him crouched in some thick grass behind the bush. I threw a few rocks and he never moved. He was dead!!!!!
The next day we headed down to the lake where we joined Tinie and Rory. They had just shot their hippo bull when we arrived.
We spent that afternoon looking for crocs and putting out some ground bait for crocs. Late that evening we saw a good sized croc heading into a small bay. We got out the boat and watched him move slowly into the bay. He looked like he was around 14' in length so we made a quick plan a threw some blood in the water and a couple of chunks of meat to see if he would be tempted to come out the water. It literally took five minutes and he surfaced right in front of the meat. Another two ore three minutes and he came right out the water twenty five yards informant of us. We were all stunned that he came out so fast. Rory made a great shot in the neck followed up with a shoulder shot and it was all over. Many handshakes and high fives were given out. And then the beers came out!!!!
We spent the next few days relaxing and fishing on the lake. Steve catching a huge Vundu (catfish).