|Me, my client and the fantastic leopard just after the shot!|
Leopard from 2010.
My client came on a two week safari in february 2010 and his primary goal was to hunt a big leopard. With fourteen days ahead we were able to prepare our hunt very carefully. We dedicated the two first days to finding baits and looking for tracks on different locations I had marked earlier in the season. One of the baits was hit pretty quickly, after only one night the leopard had eaten nearly a whole back leg of a warthog, he seemed to be a really big cat.
|Looking at tracks in the sand|
Beeing very sure of myself that this cat would come back the very next night, we put up the boma around a tree thirtyfive meters away from the bait. That evening we sat down at five a clock and waited. And sure enough, at six a clock we could hear his roar in the distance. What happened next was incredibly intense.
For a while we couldn't hear anything more but we knew the cat was very close in the moonlit night. Suddenly I heard a sniffing just at the other side of the grasswall. The leopard was actually walking around our blind and checking us out. I knew our chance to shoot him this evening probably was very little so we just sat quiet and enjoyed this magnificient company in the night.
By investigating the tracks the
|Our bait is up!|
We were still determined not to give up on such a big leopard. The next morning we walked around the area and found a suitable tree a kilometer down the stream and put up a new bait. Since we knew the leopard was there and most probably would smell the bait we set up the boma right away, the same day. Our strategy was to let the leopard get used to the hide already the first time he came and that way he would be less suspicious.
At seven a clock the next morning we approached the bait with high hopes. What we saw was very discouraging. We found tracks around the tree but the leopard had not climbed up to taste the meat. Something was wrong I figured.
My tracker suddenly called from down the forest, he had found a carcass in a small tree not far away from our bait. Now it all made sense. The leopard had found our bait but he was not hungry and prefered his own meat, instead of eating the the one we attached with steelwire up on a branch. My hope rose again. Now what we had to do was just to attach his meat up with ours in the tree and wait. He would come back the same night I thought, this was our chance to get him!
We arrived at four a clock to the boma and sat down. The african sun was setting over the savanna and the birds were giving their last song for the day as we made ourselves as comfortable we could in the grasshide. We had only sat down for about fifteen minutes and we were still preparing our gear for the coming hours as we suddenly heard a group of guinyfowls flying off not far away, a sign that something was going on out there. I whispered to my client to keep looking, even though it was still very early for the leopard to be out feeding we could never know. This was not an ordinary leopard, he had surprised us before..
Suddenly the treebranch where the bait hung started swaying up and down in front of us in a heavy move, then all went quiet for a couple of minutes. Then it started again and kept going for a couple of minutes, then totally quiet again. The branch was sticking out from the forestedge and the base of the tree was totally covered in green foilage up to a meter from the ground, so we couldn't see what was causing the circus.
|Building the hide.|
|Many hours of waiting.|
The cat didn't jump or even made a noice, it just fell to the ground and all went quiet.
We just sat still for ten minutes and enjoyed the silence. We knew our quest was over.