The author and Ewert Vorster (right) from Sadaka Safaris

I live in Fort St John in northern British Columbia, Canada. I have always been an outdoor enthusiast, who truly loves Mother Nature. I have found through many years that nature can be very beautiful but also very cruel. I believe that one must be able to embrace both aspects – the beautiful and the cruel – to truly understand the power of nature.

I consider myself a well-seasoned hunter, who began hunting at the age of eight, starting on squirrels, grouse and rabbits. I moved on to larger game, such as deer, moose and elk, by the time I was fifteen. From the age of fifteen and up, I dreamed of one day hunting in Africa.
This is a story of fulfilling that dream – a story of an amazing leopard hunt in South Africa with my good friend, Ewert Vorster of Sadaka Safaris, in my fiftieth year.
I first met Ewert and his lovely wife, Karen, in Houston, Texas at an African Safari show. I stopped at their booth and chatted with them, immediately liking them. I told them about my dream of hunting in Africa.
One year later, in January 2013, I phoned Ewert, who was at a Safari show in Dallas, and booked a hunt. I informed him that I would be bringing along my twin boys, who were twelve at the time.
We arrived in Africa and, exactly on my fifteeth birthday, we began hunting. We hunted for ten days and had the most amazing experience and the most successful hunt one could imagine. I was fortunate to harvest a very large kudu and a beautiful gemsbuck.
Klayton, the younger of my twins, bagged an impressive impala and a large male baboon. Kyle was very fortunate to harvest a blesbuck and he also landed a massive caracal that ranked fifth in the Rowland Ward World Record book.
I had indeed fulfilled my 35-year-long dream of hunting in Africa, and I did it with my two young boys. It just could not get any better – or could it?
I stayed in close touch with Ewert and we both attended an African Safari show in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in January 2014. I booked my leopard hunt for May of that year. Time dragged by slowly until the beginning of another amazing adventure.
I landed in Johannesburg on 24 May at 9 p.m. and was met by Ewert, who was going to be my professional hunter (PH). We drove to the lodge, which was about a three-hour drive. I had decided to bring my own scope to use on Ewert’s Christensen arms .300 Win Mag. It was a 20 x 50 mm Vortec Trijicon scope, renowned for gathering the best light in low-light conditions.
The next morning we fitted the rifle with my scope and mounts, and began shooting. We ran off approximately 10 to 15 rounds and could not group the shots at all. Something was wrong with the scope mounts. We decided to drive to Pretoria, a two-hour drive, to a gunsmith to have it fixed. This meant sacrificing a precious day of hunting.
With the proper mounts in place and the rifle bore sighted, we were ready to go.
26 May: we began the day by checking one of the baits that Ewert had put out. We checked the camera and saw that a mature male leopard had been coming in on a regular basis and had up till then consumed about eight impalas.
Studying the pictures, we determined the leopard to weigh approximately 150 pounds, and decided to build a blind. I recall telling Ewert that I wished the leopard had been a little bigger. However, it was a good representation of the species, so the hunt was on.
The men built the blind that day and we decided that we would begin hunting the next night, allowing the cat to get accustomed to the new blind.
The next morning at the breakfast table, Ewert informed me that we were going on a drive to the adjacent property to look for tracks and then be back in the afternoon to sit in the blind where the cat was expected. It took us about one and a half hours to get to the adjacent property, and we arrived there at about 11 o’clock.
We had only driven about 20 minutes after going through the gate when we came upon drag signs across the road. There were also signs of blood. We stopped and, having found a large set of tracks in the dirt, determined it was the drag of a leopard.

After loading our rifles, we slowly made our way through the tall grass and shrubs. Then, all of a sudden, the tracker stopped and said: “Flies!”
My heart pounding, I could hear the steady drone of a thousand flies: we had stumbled upon a dead waterbuck cow, half eaten and jammed under a large tree. The cow was evidently too big for even this large cat to pull up into the safety of the branches. We could not believe our luck finding a fresh leopard kill – what were the odds?
After analysing the situation, we decided to quickly drive back to the ranch to fetch everything we needed to hunt this big cat. We had to hurry as it was 12 noon and the sun sets at 6 p.m. As we were loading all that we would need – the blind, red LED lights to shine on the carcass, motion sensors, batteries, wires, etc. – Ewert and I had an idea. He had harvested a large leopard the year before and had saved urine from it. We decided to spray the base of the tree to confuse the cat, as they are very territorial.
We arrived back at the kill at about 3:30 p.m. and had only two and a half hours of light to put this plan together.
Two of the trackers quickly began to assemble the blind, while Ewert and the other two trackers began to move the half-eaten cow from the ground up to about fifteen feet into the tree, on the underside of a huge branch – the branch that we wanted the cat to hopefully stand on if everything went according to plan.
After the carcass was secured to the branch, we cleared a shooting path to the blind, and put up the wires for the LED red lights shining onto the carcass and a motion sensor to alert us when something was moving in the darkness.
Everything came together like clockwork. As the sun began to slide over the horizon, the final touches were being applied – including spraying the entire base of the tree with the cat urine that we had brought with us.
I couldn’t believe it – we had done it! All was ready for the big cat. Now the big question was, would he be back that night or had he been lying up on the hill in the thick undergrowth, watching us prepare our trap for his demise?
We crawled into the ground blind and had several trackers close us in by applying a thick blanket of thorn bush over the door for our protection – in case the leopard decided to come for us.
Time ticked away and since I was very tired from the long flight and the busy days, I began to doze off. At about 7:45 p.m. Ewert poked me and whispered: “Dan, two things. One, you are snoring and two, I just heard something in the bush behind the blind!”
Obviously, this got my full attention. We sat in total silence, listening to the sounds of the African night, when all of a sudden, the buzzer went off, indicating something was moving at the carcass.

Ewert slowly turned the knob of the power supply for the red LED lights, and they started lighting up the carcass of the waterbuck. I had my face close to the peephole, with the rifle already pushed out, aiming at the carcass.
As the light grew brighter, and I was looking through the 20 x 50 mm scope, I could see the carcass very clearly, but there was no movement there. I whispered to Ewert: “I don’t see anything.”
Ewert lowered the lights and said quietly: “I don’t see anything either. Maybe it’s a genet. They are quite small and hard to see.”
Another minute or two ticked by and then the buzzer went off again. I buried my face into the scope as Ewert began to turn the lights up again. We both saw a huge leopard jumping down from the branch. It looked about a mile long as it stretched out, leaping to the ground from the high branch!
Ewert turned the lights off again, and urgently whispered to me: “Dan, don’t make a sound! It’s coming our way and if it knows we are in here, it may try to dig us out!”
Now let me explain the implications of this comment. First, you can’t see your hand in front of your face because it is so dark. Second, your heart is pounding so loudly and fast, you are sure that the huge cat will hear it. Third, you are sitting cross-legged on the ground and you begin to hear a deep guttural growl (that words cannot really describe), and it is growing louder and louder. You know you can’t move a muscle because the cat will hear you!
I thought to myself: “It’s a good thing I have a strong heart, otherwise a heart attack will be imminent!” My heart kept pounding harder and harder in my chest.

The huge cat prowled around the side and back of the blind, continuing with its guttural growls. It slowly turned back towards the tree and the carcass.
He was very pissed off and we knew it!
All went quiet for about 30 seconds and then the buzzer went off again. Well, I was like a cat on a hot tin roof – it scared the crap out of me. I had been so caught up in listening to this huge cat prowling the area that the buzz caught me off guard.
I quickly put my face to the scope and Ewert turned the lights back up. There it was: an amazing full figure of an enormous cat, standing exactly where we wanted it to be – on the branch right over the carcass!
Ewert said: “If you can take him, take him now!”
With the adrenaline pumping and my heart pounding, all I heard was “NOW”! I took two deep breaths and squeezed the trigger. The rifle thundered and jumped in my hands. I saw the huge cat fold and then it rolled off the branch and fell to the ground.
I could not believe it – we had done it! We had taken one of the world’s most dangerous cats off his own kill – and that within the first two hours of my leopard hunt!
We waited for the trackers to come and remove the thorn wall away from the door, and then approached the fallen giant at the bottom of the tree.
It was a truly amazing, beautiful creature. I felt very blessed to have had these two remarkable hunts in South Africa in my fiftieth year in the company of my good friend Ewert, who has become like a brother to me.
It just could not get any better! ASM

My leopard scored in the top 30 of the world! It weighed in at approximately a 185 lbs!