Leopard hunting is a specialized hunt, where you be rewarded with the rush of adrenaline like you’ve never felt before, PLUS a magnificent trophy that will remind you of those dark African nights.
Only a few hunters have experienced the adrenaline of hunting leopards, and only the hunters that persevere are rewarded with the trophy of a lifetime. Any mature male should be considered a trophy, because leopard hunting is a very difficult endeavor. Stack the odds in your favor by hunting with a top-notch PH. Despite their difficulty, they’re among the most sought-after trophies. They are solitary, predominantly nocturnal, and very wary.
It has been said that you hunt lion with your heart, and leopard with your brain!
If a professional hunter does five leopard hunts in a year and shoots four, that is only 80%. That by the way is an outstanding year. So your chance when hunting is only 80% at the very best. When you see at the conventions people advertising that they are 100% on cats, what they are really saying is 100% on quota, i.e. five cats, seven clients.
Success rates on leopard hunting is never 100% as they are too wary, and there are too many variables. It is like a chess game. Success is likely, but you may have to return for a second safari. Your PH will have trail cameras on the baits so you know the caliber of leopards hitting the baits.
Other Available Game
You really should stay focused on hunting leopards until you’ve taken your cat. Once an animal is taken, the staff will be called on the radio to take care of it and get your trophy to the skinning shed. They will take care to properly skin your animal the correct way depending on how you want it mounted. Immediately following your hunt, a taxidermist will collect your trophies and get them dipped, packed and ready for shipping.
Now you can switch to plains game hunting, or even one of the other dangerous game species. Cape buffalo are almost always available in the same area. Also, during the day you may need to hunt for some more bait, which is fun.
We have partnered with some great outfitters
If you have questions or would like to go leopard hunting yourself, just contact us. Give us a detailed description of what you are looking for, so our hunting consultants can match you with the right hunt. Whatever suits you, we can help you find it. So if you’re looking for a great hunt, you’ll love working with us.
I trust Outdoors International’s opinion and will definitely book another hunt with Outdoors International. This was an amazing safari!
The leopard (Panthera pardus) /ˈlɛpərd/ is one of the five “big cats” in the genus Panthera. It is a member of the family Felidae with a wide range in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. While common in most areas, the leopard is listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because leopard populations are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, and are declining in some parts of the global range. Hunting leopards is legal in most of the countries of Southern Africa (although some don’t allow it).
Compared to other members of Felidae, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull. It is similar in appearance to the jaguar, but has a smaller, lighter physique. Its fur is marked with rosettes similar to those of the jaguar. The leopard is distinguished by its well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic hunting behavior, broad diet, and strength (which it uses to move heavy carcasses into trees), as well as its ability to adapt to various habitats. [from Wikepedia]
Leopard Hunting Methods
There are two ways to hunt leopards:
- Bait and blind is the most common method of leopard hunting.
- Hunting with hounds. This method is increasing rapidly in popularity.
This is not a plains game hunt, and is not for the faint-of-heart. It is a specialized hunt and you should stay very focused. Leopard hunting most commonly takes place out of a blind over bait at night. If you are very lucky, they will come in at dawn or at dusk, but don’t count on it (this is more common in remote areas such as Mozambique).
Be prepared for long, motionless hours in the blind. You will hear every sound and movement from outside the blind as you sit and wait for the distinctive, “throaty coughing” calling sound or, better yet, the sound of him eating at the bait. You hear every leaf drop, every animal walk by, every insect.
You can get lost in your thoughts and allow yourself to close your eyes even though you are as uncomfortable as hell…. but then, you hear the sound of bones crushing or flesh ripping, and every sense goes to High Alert!
At that point, the darkness becomes your friend as you wait anxiously for the moment when the PH switches on the light. You will have one shot, and one shot only. Make it count. During the days, you check baits, move blinds and maybe even hunt for more bait.
Shot Placement for Leopards
As for shot placement on leopards, the only trick is to remember is to place the bullet through the heart you have to shoot behind the shoulder.
- Never shoot a leopard facing you – there is too much room for error
- Never shoot a cat standing on its hind legs eating a bait
- Never shoot a cat lying down – the room for error is ZERO
- Always test fire before going into the blind
Best Caliber for Leopard Hunting
You don’t need a large caliber rifle or even premium bullets for leopard hunting.
A 7×57 or .308 with standard soft point ammo is perfect. If you are shooting from a blind you will require a good quality scope on your rifle though, and ‘scope choice is probably more important than caliber used. A high magnification ‘scope is unnecessary. The leopard will not be shot at long range, but will probably be shot in poor light. An illuminated reticle of some sort is an advantage, but definitely avoid too fine a cross hairs.
Africa Safari Gear List
Preparing for your first African Safari can be intimidating, but there’s no need to worry. The truth of the matter is that packing for a hunt in Africa isn’t all that difficult. We have worked together with our P.H.’s on a safari gear list for your upcoming hunt.
- Valid Passport (South Africa requires your passport to be valid for an additional 30 days after your return date to the USA. No exceptions.)
- Airline ticket.
- Proper weapon documentation.
- Email the date and time of arrival to your P.H. for pickup at the airport.
- Inoculation (if needed in the area you are hunting).
- Deposit paid and confirmed.
- Traveler’s checks and enough cash for gifts, tip, etc.
- Travel Insurance.
Keep it simple. Bring a few changes of light hunting clothing (most places will have a daily laundry service). Odds are you will be riding in the back of a truck on a high rack to and from hunting areas, and that can get chilly. So bring a good jacket along. During the day, temperatures should be pleasant.
*When hunting in Mozambique it is important to note that you are allowed to bring realtree type camo but it is against Mozambican law for an ordinary citizen to wear military style camouflage.
- 2 pairs of light hunting pants
- 2-3 hunting shirts
- 2-3 pairs of socks and underwear
- 1 pair of insulated underwear (tops and bottoms) *we recommend Merino wool
- Light jacket for stopping wind
- Wide brim hat or cap
- Good ankle boots/shoes that are very comfortable (you don’t need heavy mountain boots)
- Comfortable shoes for lounging at the lodge
- Light stocking hat and gloves
- Light rain gear
If you are hunting from May to August, be sure to bring some heavier clothing as well as temperatures can occasionally drop below freezing. If you are hunting during this time add the following items:
- 1 pair of insulated hunting pants
- 2 pairs mid-weight socks
- Insulated coat
Get the best optics you can afford. Don’t skimp here.
- Binoculars (Quality 8’s or 10’s)
- Spotting Scope
- Bino Harness
- Phone Skope – Mount your phone to your optics
- Lens Cloth and Cleaning Equipment
Firearms and Ammunition
Clients always ask us what type of rifle and caliber they should bring to Africa. Our advice is always, bring the rifle that you are most comfortable shooting with, shot placement and premium quality bullets are more important than caliber choice. For plains game, we recommend any caliber between 270 and 375. However calibers for dangerous game, the minimum requirement by law is no caliber smaller than 375H&H. We recommend using premium quality soft point ammunition like Swift A-frame, Woodleigh, Norma or Barnes. For elephant and hippo it is advisable to use heavy caliber solid ammunition.
When hunting dangerous game, use a good quality low powered variable scope of 1.5 – 6 x 25 power. We recommend a higher powered scope of between 3 – 9 x 40 magnification for plains game. When transporting your rifle it should be transported on the airline and on any major road in a solid, lockable, hard case. Whilst travelling between hunting areas or on the back of the hunting vehicle we recommend that you bring a soft padded rifle bag.
- Ammo (40-60 shells should be adequate for a typical hunt)
- Gun case with locks
- Soft gun case
- Bow (talk to your Agent or PH about poundage requirements)
- Arrows and good broadheads (2-3 dozen arrows should be adequate for a typical hunt)
- Bow case with locks
- Soft bow case
- Valid Passport
- Airline ticket
- Proper weapon documentation
- Certified copy of your Passport for the taxidermist.
- Tip your P.H.
- Pay trophy fees and final payments for the animals you take on your Safari.
- Make arrangements for your trophies.
The standard tip for a guide is 10% to 20% of the cost of your trip. Remember to tip the cooks and other help in the camp as well. The amount you give reflects your appreciation for your guide’s hard work and effort.