Earlier this month I shared the success story from my Mozambique leopard hunt. There's a lot that goes into this hunt, so I thought I'd share some more details with you.
Leopards are almost never seen in the wild, tough to bait and even tougher to hunt. It took five attempts before I finally killed a leopard. My pal, Jim Shockey, hunted them several times with a muzzleloader, tallying upwards of 50 days before getting his chance to squeeze the trigger.
Leopards are cats, and cats are finicky. To bowhunt for a leopard, first a hunter must obtain bait. This means you'll have to hunt zebra and bushbuck in hopes of collecting a carcass to tempt a leopard. Many baits are required. The typical leopard safari is 14 days, so it's not uncommon to set six to 10 baits along rivers and in rocky mountain areas where a male leopard might hunt.
Scouting cameras are a great asset to see what animals are visiting. Pictured above is a civet cat, a small critter that visited one of my leopard bait sites. Civets are well known in the fragrance trade for their musk—similar to a skunk, but sweeter—which is used in many expensive perfumes.
Once a bait is hit by a male leopard, a brush blind must be built. Leopards are very sensitive to disturbance, so building a blind can be dicey.
Leopards are big cats, but provide a small target. Most leopards are shot after dark, so 30 yards is typically the maximum effective range for archery.
Accurate shooting is difficult in the total darkness of a blind. It's common for a hunter to sit for hours or even all night in the blind waiting for a leopard to return. Mosquitoes buzz and elephants trumpet in the darkness.
Bowhunting for a leopard might just be the most difficult hunt on the planet.