How not to follow a wounded leopard!
In my mind Lion are the men of the cat world - they are big and strong, they smell terrible, they're always loud and self important, they bully and kill all around them and when wounded they come at you in loud aggressive bursts which you have to deal with.
Leopard however are the women, they are always calm and quiet - almost introvert - they spend more time grooming and rather avoid confrontation than take it head on - BUT do something to piss them off, and you're dealing with a different monster. They'll plan their means of attack, they'll even let you get away with it a few times before they bring hell down on you and you will know, usually only a split second before. They also don't aim to destroy you, rather their plan is prolonged suffering and while they will leave you with painful surface wounds, it is always the deeper scars, those within your heart, your soul and that place where ego's presided that cause the most pain and suffering.
I was sitting at a popular road side pit stop , the Forest Inn, on the western end of Zambia's great north road taking in a few cold Mosi's after a nerve wracking and tense lion hunt. This was the regular overnight spot for those PH's who live on beans - the ones that make their living the old way and still drive their vehicles between concessions - and I was not breaking this camp until the Mosi's were finished and the sun was up? The great north road had taken it's fair share of lives since it was first built back in the 60's and I had no intention of being one of them, even if I was only 4 hours from Lusaka and home. However it was Eddie, my driver who shattered the ideal post safari moment with his cellphone, someone was asking for me as I had mine turned off - if they were calling him it was urgent I guessed, so I took the call staring at my half empty glass longingly.
These days I tend to work only for myself, I sell hunts, I do them, I drink beer afterwards and if anyone objects I tell them where to put it. It works out OK for a PH bum like me, I tend to stick to the old ways and haven't cared much for the new fandangled methods and manners I see PH's offer these days. That is not to say I'm past my prime, far from it and I guess a reason why I have never been in the diamond class of PH's - those hard men of steel you regularly see on the top US hunting network shows taking down charging elephants, cigar in mouth and narrating to the camera as the elephant bears down on them. They are the Goldenball Brigade (GB's) of this industry, all with those mandatory cut off vests and the heavy double guns slung over their shoulder and fancy awards to their names like a string of medals.
Now how could I miss out on a chance like this, the caller was telling me, to walk amongst the elite and fraternize with the stars of your industry, it can only go one way from here you see and to top it all, you Zambian PH's could learn a thing or two from these guys!
NO I thought to myself, I could not let this one go, and said OK I'll do it, I had to join the GB ranks and see for myself if I compared, if I even came close to the tremendous prowess of these real life African PH's and their golden assets and magnificent manes of flowing hair. Thankfully Eddie was there, after all that's why I employ him, and after a quick negotiation with the bar lady, we drove off into a setting sun, me with a cooler of Mosi to make sure Eddie kept between the white lines.
(Sorry, some of our hardcore hunting subscribers don't like these long stories - they want hunting deals - so please click the link above for the full version of this Leopard Safari gone wrong!)
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