"I recently returned from an enjoyable and challenging leopard hunt with hounds in Zimbabwe. Enjoyable, as the hunt came off without a hitch. Challenging, because we did not harvest a cat until the 11th hour of the last day of a 10-day hunt.
The outfitter is Pro Safaris Africa (www.pro-saf.com; info@pro-saf. com). Louis Mueller and Norman Crooks oversee several concessions in southwest Zimbabwe, with operations based in the West Nicholson area. This 10-day hunt package, which includes all of the usual safari accoutrements, along with the hounds, daily rate and trophy fee, is $19,500. This hunt is best suited for an experienced Africa hand, and leopard are the primary focus, as some of the areas hunted have low populations of plains game. Hunts are conducted with only one hunter at a time. They start hunting in April, usually concluding around mid-August. This is the region's autumn and winter and the coolest time of the year, which provides the optimum tracking conditions for the hounds.
"Pre-hunt preparation can play a big role in determining success. The usual strategy is to sweep the roads in the afternoon/evening, then look for fresh tracks in the early morning. A large track usually means a big Tom; the dogs are released and the chase begins. While this method can be productive, not every leopard ventures onto the roads each night. Bait sets (the same used in a classic leopard hunt but with no shooting blind) increase the odds of finding the........(continued)