Clint arrived in cold windy Bulawayo on a 15 day Leopard Safari, which took us 3 hours drive south of Bulawayo. We arrived at camp that evening, settled down and had a warm comforting meal to prepare us for the next day ahead.
After zeroing the rifle we set off in search of bait animals as it was our intention to get them all out that day. I intended to hang 8 baits to give us the optimum chance of a good male leopard. We managed to find 4 impala and a zebra stallion. We are going to quarter the zebra to make bigger baits for the cats to feast on. We managed to hang 6 baits that day.
We put the remainder 2 baits up the following day and checked the other baits only to find 2 had been hit by females. 5 cameras were put up to ensure that no time was wasted if a male fed.
Most of the days were spent checking and refreshing our baits as mostly females had fed on them.
On checking our baits as we were being opportunists we came around a dwala and a herd of wildebeest ran off. A good bull was spotted and the stalk was on…. A great big , old bull stood there in curiosity with his herd around him. A .375 sounded off and the bull ran 30 yards before falling.
We decided after one to many mornings of finding females feeding to re drag all the baits. Whilst doing this a magnificent kudu presented itself. Clint wasted no time in pulling the trigger.
The following morning our luck had changed… not one but two males had fed on our baits and we had two baits left to check. As we went through some thick jesse, two eland bulls were spotted. They trotted off and we were in hot pursuit. After about 30 mins of stalking them, we spotted them and got into a good position to get a clear shot. Clint’s trusty .375 found its mark again.
We quickly loaded it into the landrover with the help of a winch and dropped it off at the skinning shed, so that we could build a blind and be ready in time. Blind was set up and we were ready to sit at 4pm. Hearts racing and tensions running high despite the freezing weather, we patiently sat there till 11pm. Mr Spots stood us up that evening.
The following morning we went and checked that bait first as we were confused as to why he did not come back - he didn’t come back at all. To our delight and frustration - we found that another bait had been hit by a different male that previous evening. Queue - Blind building that afternoon.
We were in at 4pm and sat ready in anticipation for Mr Spots to make his grand entrance. To our disgust a spotted genet was the only spotted creature to arrive that evening. Mr Spots 2 us 0.
The next morning on checking baits again … Low and behold a third males had fed with his lady friend that previous evening on yet another bait. Tearing my hair out, I decided to build yet another blind. Cold and irritated, we sat again that evening for the elusive leopard. Mr Spot’s lady friend arrived at 7pm for a her dinner date. She (like us) was also stood up that night. Mr Spot’s was clearly playing hard to get!
We went out the next day to replenish baits. 2 impala and a borrowed zebra from another hunter, we were absolutely determined to get the males feeding. We hung a few new baits in the hopes that this would attract the males, instead of the females. Giving ourselves the night off to wait for the males to come in, we had and early dinner and well deserved sleep in our WARM beds.
Carrying out our morning routine of bait checking, we discovered a male had fed on one of the replenished baits. Once again blind building was the order of the afternoon, we were in and settled by 4pm. Much to our annoyance, the only thing arrived at our bait was a hyena. We spent the whole night in the blind, in the hopes that a male would come in.
Another morning spent checking baits we discovered the bait where the male and female had fed was once again hit. Checking the trail cams what time they fed the male was coming in early in the evening and early morning while still dark…
We decided to give him another impala and let him feed that evening and if he returned he was sure to return the following day..
That afternoon we went out in search of a waterbuck. One bull gave us the slip so we drove on along a beautiful lakes edge. Seeing some waterbuck females, we were on alert and next second there he was. An old bull, so we decided to take him. He was on a hillside and a great shot was made and he came crashing down towards us.. luckily he did not go the opposite way.
Early morning baiting saw us going straight to the male and female bait, which had been hit once again. We decided enough is enough and we built a blind that morning. We headed back to camp for lunch and to get ready. Returning by 3:30pm this time, were we more than prepared for Mr Spots. At 5:40pm, hearing faint footsteps through the listening device, my heart started to pound - this could be him!!! Peering through my binos, I could just make out a leopard stealthily walking towards the bait. Clint got ready for my instruction. As it jumped onto the tree limb, I looked through my binos, only to discover it was the female that was feeding. I told Clint, not to shoot.
Despite the disappointment, we decided to stay. At 10:30pm, cloud cover came in and its started drizzling, we decided at 11 pm to leave the blind and go and sit by the fire where the vehicle was waiting. At 5 am, the trackers woke us up, to go and walk back into the blind to have a look at first light. As we got into the blind, we could hear bones being crushed but there was no leopard on the tree limb. After what felt like an eternity, I looked through my binos and saw the leopard jump up on to the tree limb. I slowed put the light on and could see that it was a male. Clint by now was in position, I told him it was the male and when ready to shoot. His .300WSM broke the silence of the early morning, the leopard jumped out of the tree and ran 20 yards and fell over. All our patience and hard work had paid off. Clint had gotten his leopard. It was almost 17”, weighed 80kgs and was 7’ 4”. A few celebratory drinks were had that evening.
The following, we spent preparing an area to call hyena. We set off after dinner, with a spotlight. After a few minutes, a grysbuck was seen and taken by Clint. It was fine specimen. We were off in pursuit of the hyenas again, we got to the hyena blind and sent the vehicle away. We started to call and within a minute, hyenas were responding. One boiled in and was taken within 40 yards of the blind.
It was a great safari with Clint, with many ups and downs but getting such a great leopard was the absolute highlight. I wish Clint well and hope to see him again for another African Safari.