In Need of Leopard Luck

As the leopard hunt draws to a close, Executive Editor Adam Heggenstaller needs some luck.

I started hunting leopard almost two weeks ago, and now time is running out. The big cat in the creek bed hasn't come back to the bait, although yesterday we found his tracks on a ranch road less than a quarter-mile away. I shot a young gemsbok cow to provide meat for the ranch staff and to get fresh innards for a new drag. PH Jamy Traut and his tracker/skinner Peter pulled the drag behind the Land Cruiser up and down the ranch road where we found the leopard's tracks, hoping it would point the cat to the bait. But when we checked the bait again this morning, there was no fresh sign of the leopard.

Jamy said the ideal situation is to let a leopard feed undisturbed for a night or two before sitting in the blind. With only two nights left in my safari, it doesn't seem like we will be able to go with that plan. There are still six baits hanging in the Great Escarpment region, and we're waiting to hear if any of those were hit last night. If a leopard fed on one of these baits last night, we'll hunt it immediately.

But leopard isn't the only thing I came to Namibia to hunt. I've been trying for a good red hartebeest, what Jamy calls the "Kalahari Ferrari" because of its habitat and speed. We came close to bagging one the first day of the safari but have had little luck since then--until this morning. A three-quarter-mile stalk ended in a belly-crawl over a sand dune and a heavy-horned bull on the ground at 200 yards with the Kimber Adirondack and Federal Premium 165-grain Fusion bullet.

The sun was barely high enough to warm the 40-degree air when I found some luck with the red hartebeest. Now, as it makes its way across a cloudless sky, I need some leopard luck.

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