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Upper Lupande, Luangwa Valley Leopard with CMS
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On some occasions, I write hunt reports and others not. On the last couple of trips, I’ve decided not to do so. Recently, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hunt the Upper Lupande through Buzz Charlton and CMS. So in an effort to do the right thing by CMS, the concession holder, and the professional hunter, below is a brief overview of my recent hunt. I don’t have time to make this an exciting, well-edited-read. Hemingway would be ashamed. But this report is free, so you’ll get your money’s worth.

Hunt dates: July 31 – August 9. Due to some family issues in the states, I only hunted July 31 – August 5.
Outfitter: CMS (Buzz Charlton)
Professional Hunter: Manlio “Mario” Grassetto
Area: Upper Lupande, Zambia
Game hunted: Leopard, hyena, hippo, buffalo, Cookson’s wildebeest, and puku.
Game successfully taken: Leopard, hippo, hyena, and puku.
Game observed: Lion, leopard, elephant, hippo, croc, roan, puku, impala, zebra, buffalo, giraffe, hyena, warthog, bush buck, and kudu.
Travel: Travel w/Guns (Patrick), NOLA – ATL; ATL – JNB; JNB – Lusaka; Lusaka – Mfuwe; 45 minute drive to camp. Overnight at Africa Sky on way to camp (VIP service).
Rifle: Winchester Model 70 CRF
Caliber: 404 Jeffery
Bullets: CEB Non-Cons 375 gr. at 2400 fps (Now called Raptors?) - dead made easy.

No big issues with travel. SAPS had the wrong serial # on my pre-approved transit permit, but the VIP service w/Africa Sky straightened it out in short order. I can’t see any reason not to use Africa Sky in JNB. My hunt included a meet in greet in Lusaka and that was helpful to make sure I had no issues on arrival or return. But plan to pay ProFlight (Lusaka to Mfuwe) a few extra bucks for gun handling and baggage weight (approximately $100 extra total).

The Upper Lupande camp is large with several chalets for clients as well as those for professional hunter(s) and staff. There are dedicated facilities for the dining room, kitchen, skinning shed, office, etc. I was the first client to hunt the Upper Lupande in years. The camp was rejuvenated recently under the guidance of resident professional hunter Manlio “Mario” Grassetto. Some improvements remain underway, but I was comfortable at camp and enjoyed my stay.






Day 1:

The game scout is hours late. But Mario stays on the issue, and we get the scout to camp by 10 AM or so. This is a dedicated leopard hunt, so we need bait asap. We look for hippo and after a few stops, we spy a big-bodied, old bull. The problem is he doesn’t want to hang around in typical range. A almost fully submerged hippo at well over a hundred yards? We’re running late, and I practice a lot. No worries – sorted, and we have bait! This guy is a load. Even after enlisting the aid of local fishermen, we can’t get the bull on the beach. His teeth and tusks were worn down and broken off, but you don’t hang tusks in trees ….







Hours later we wrap up the butchering and manage to get a couple baits up.

There were plenty of hippo carelessly lounging around the area throughout the hunt.



Quote of the day: After we spend the day shooting and butchering a rather large hippo, and we load up the truck with bait, our head tracker, Jeff, says: “Hey Boss, you know leopards like zebra?”

Amusing moment: Our head tracker, Jeff, borrows a fisherman’s boat to paddle out to check on the shot, but submerged hippo. He paddles up to the nervous water (where the hippo remained submerged), and he pokes the hippo with a 4” pocket knife to make sure it’s dead. I wish I had that on video.

Day 2:

We leave camp for a long boring day of hanging baits.

Is that a hyena in broad daylight at 50 yards? Hyena realizes this isn’t such a good idea and runs off. We give chase on foot for 200-250 yards. As we break into an open plains area, there he is, but much farther away. Hyena stops to see if we’re still behind him. Good for me, bad for hyena. He’s old bruiser and survivor of a neck snare. Daylight hyena – sorted!



Over the course of the next several days, I would see several more hyena during the daylight hours.



We drop off the hyena at the skinning shed and return to the bush to hang baits. Is that a nice puku on the plains? In my limited experience with them, puku don’t strike me as the wariest of creatures. Time for a short stalk, and then the puku is in the salt.



So, by 10 AM on day 2, we now have our bait hippo and nice hyena and puku. We hang 4 more baits, bringing our total to 6.

Around 7:30 PM that night, the trackers say there’s a big leopard in camp by the skinning shed. Sweet, because the last bait we hung was ½ mile from camp, and we drug almost all the way back to camp due to recent leopard sightings.

Quote of the day: After we sprint 200-250 yards after a hyena and I’m breathing heavy on the sticks, I complain that the hyena sure is a long shot. Our head tracker tells me: “Hey Boss, he ain’t getting any closer.”

Runner up quote: Head tracker to me: “You run pretty good [for a fat guy].”

Day 3:

A leopard hits our bait close to camp. At 7 AM, we rewire the remaining bit of bait and replace the grass cover on the tree. Then we go back to camp for more bait and to cut grass for a blind. When we return to bait around 8 AM (an hour later), spots has returned and ripped the last of the bait from the tree and carried it off into the high grass. Yes, this all happened in broad daylight after we had already been to the tree.

We arm ourselves and wade into the grass to reclaim our bait, so the leopard won’t hole up with it instead of coming back to the tree. Spots decides discretion is the better part of valor, and he drops the bait in the grass about 120 yards from the tree. I mention this cat must be a cheeky bastard. Mario agrees ….

The trial cam video confirms the cat is a very nice mature tom.



We collect natural grass and build our blind with the plan to sit late in the afternoon.



As we check the other baits, there are two more hits. But we already have a blind and a plan.

However, spots does not like our plan. We hear him cough behind us a few times, but he doesn’t show up in the tree before dark. Oh well, back to camp – we’ll try again in the morning.

Well after dinner, I’m sitting by the campfire making a few calls when a couple of lions walk past in the river bed. I throw more firewood in the pit (now I have a proper leg hair melting fire) and quickly wrap up my calls. As I’m about to retire, one of the staff stops by to tell me the leopard is back in camp by the skinning shed. I have a torch, so I investigate. Yep, it’s a leopard. Yes, I’m in my shorts and tennis shoes, but leopards are scared of people. I hit him with the torch beam, and he stares back at me. He doesn’t run – he just stares at me. I click off the torch and then the light is back on again. He’s still there staring at me. Again – same result. I confirm this cat is a cheeky bastard.

I’m no novice hunter or bed wetter, but spots doesn’t act like he should. I retreat to my chalet, but pray to see him in the morning under different, more favorable, circumstances.

Day 4:

After two prior unsuccessful leopard hunts in Zim, this was a long time coming. He’s everything that I could have asked for and even stared me down the night before. Admittedly, this was a bit of an emotional experience for me. My morning leopard:





The cat is over 7’ long and built solidly. Although neither Mario nor I are competent photographers, we take lots of pictures. There’s a celebration, and we relax the rest of the day dropping baits and exercising our livers.

That night I hear about some family stuff back home.

Day 5:

We hunt big buffalo and Cookson’s wildebeest. I’ve been fortunate enough to take some nice buff on prior trips, so I’m looking for something exceptional. We see nice buffalo, but not the “one.” I also see lots of quality plains game and tons of elephant, but no wildebeest.





I was fortunate enough to photograph this lion at only 40-50 yards or so. He’s a beauty, and Mario tells me one of five big males that utilize the concession. The lion wasn’t even remotely scared of us and growled at us several times – absolutely awesome. We encountered this lion without the benefit of any baits – we were both hunting buffalo.



Same issue back at home, so I need to wrap up the hunt early. We’ll have one more hunting day.

Day 6:

Same story as Day 5. We end the day looking over a herd of a couple hundred buffalo as the sun dips below the mopane. This was my last hunting day, and I hit the long road home on Day 7.




I’m aggravated and I think my luck ends on the long Delta leg to Atlanta as I’m situated between two significant men in economy. This is what happens when you jack around with your reservations last minute …. But at least they were nice and thoughtful guys in addition to being significant. As it turns out, my luck might not have been so bad after all. By returning early, I missed the massive Delta computer screw up.

In conclusion:

I’m not going to attempt to explain how significant getting this leopard in broad daylight was for me. I won’t lie and say I put more blood, sweat, and tears in on this hunt than all of my others. I’ve had those hunts before, and this one was more relaxing – we never had to force anything. May be the law of averages was catching up with me in a good way. But I can’t help believing the combination of circumstance, area, PH, and hunting team was well in my favor from the beginning on this hunt.

The Upper Lupande is a game rich concession with calm, unmolested game (excepting some limited poaching). Out of 6 leopard baits, I had 3 hits in 4 days. I saw many elephant, although I wasn’t hunting them. I understand that once the pools and lagoons dry up in mid-September, the buffalo and other game concentrate along the river and the plains in the concession. This drives up the game numbers dramatically. If there is that much more game later in the year than I saw in late July/early August, then that would be certainly something to behold. I would be pleased to hunt the Upper Lupande again and hope to do so.

Mario Grassetto is the resident PH and conducted the hunt for me. He was raised in Zambia and is of Italian heritage. He knows the area and what he is doing, and I’d also be pleased to hunt with him again. Jeff is the head tracker, and he’s the best tracker I’ve had the pleasure of hunting with.

My involvement with Buzz and the CMS team was in the booking process. Buzz and company ran all of the traps for me and answered all questions timely, fully, and honestly. I understand Buzz still has a couple hunts left for the Upper Lupande for 2016 at significantly reduced prices – these strike me as very good deals. If you’re looking for a daylight cat in a game rich environment, definitely consider the Upper Lupande, Zambia. I’m happy to serve as a reference if anyone has questions.
 
Posts: 617 | Location: Below sea level. | Registered: 21 March 2010Reply With Quote
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Beautiful cat!
 
Posts: 1062 | Location: Shelton, CT | Registered: 22 February 2010Reply With Quote
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Thanks!!!! Beautiful Leopard ! Great report Tygersman, Great Pictures Great Information, The day I was to call and talk had a truck breakdown.

Getting Very Excited.... as I leave in one week and 6 hours from today to hunt with Mario in the same camp for leopard, hippo, croc, hyena, puku and more...
 
Posts: 655 | Location: Michigan | Registered: 03 August 2010Reply With Quote
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TYgersman, I have to agree with you fully on the upper Lupande,That is my favorite concession in Zambia.

I hunted both upper and lower Lupande a few years ago, and I saw more leopard in broad daylight while driving around the Upper Lupande than any place I've hunted before or after.

Thank you for your report it brought back some fond memories!

..............................................................Congratulations on you spotted cat! beer


....Mac >>>===(x)===> MacD37, ...and DUGABOY1
DRSS Charter member
"If I die today, I've had a life well spent, for I've been to see the Elephant, and smelled the smoke of Africa!"~ME 1982

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Posts: 13825 | Location: TEXAS | Registered: 08 June 2000Reply With Quote
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Great Hunt report. Love the Leopard congrats!!!


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Posts: 1808 | Location: East Wenatchee | Registered: 18 August 2008Reply With Quote
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Congratulations. Beautiful Leopard.
Thanks for the report.
 
Posts: 640 | Location: Australia / Singapore | Registered: 31 October 2012Reply With Quote
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.

Thanks for sharing. Great tom. Well done.

Charlie

.


"Up the ladders and down the snakes!"
 
Posts: 940 | Location: South & West Africa | Registered: 10 February 2014Reply With Quote
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Fantastic leopard.

Sorry to hear you had to cut your hunt short, tough deal and hope you got it sorted out.
 
Posts: 712 | Location: Helena, Montana | Registered: 28 October 2009Reply With Quote
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Great leopard, Tygersman! Congrats on successful your hunt. I guess the third time was a charm.


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Posts: 170 | Location: Springfield, MO | Registered: 09 September 2015Reply With Quote
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tu2
 
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Congrats! Well done. Buzz has always been a straight shooter... unless he is challenged by some skateboarders in the states rotflmo
 
Posts: 1134 | Location: Sinton, Texas | Registered: 08 November 2006Reply With Quote
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Well done, beautiful cat!
 
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Sounds like paradise.

Congrats on a great cat!


I have walked in the foot prints of the elephant, listened to lion roar and met the buffalo on his turf. I shall never be the same.
 
Posts: 740 | Location: In the shadow of Currahee | Registered: 29 January 2009Reply With Quote
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Great cat and report. It is hard to beat the Luangwa when you need a leopard in daylight.

Regards,

Don


Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you do when things go wrong.
 
Posts: 284 | Registered: 28 June 2011Reply With Quote
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Congratulations,beautiful cat, and the Luangwa seems like a fantastic hunting ground, thanks for sharing!


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Posts: 482 | Location: Hermosillo, Sonora | Registered: 06 May 2013Reply With Quote
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Pretty kitty, some great photos there.

Thanks for posting them.


Frank



"I don't know what there is about buffalo that frightens me so.....He looks like he hates you personally. He looks like you owe him money."
- Robert Ruark, Horn of the Hunter, 1953

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Posts: 11098 | Location: Bakersfield CA. USA | Registered: 30 December 2002Reply With Quote
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Great daylight Leopard but really surprised you could not find a big buff in Lupande.


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Posts: 7357 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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wow great trip! Congrats to all involved.
 
Posts: 2463 | Location: North | Registered: 24 May 2007Reply With Quote
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Congrats on a beautiful leopard. Gotta love that Luangwa valley. I hunted Lower Lupande some years ago in July and also did not see a lot of good buffalo and no Cookson's at all. Loads of cat there though. Yikes!

Mark



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Posts: 10932 | Location: LAS VEGAS, NV USA | Registered: 04 August 2002Reply With Quote
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Thanks for the comments, guys.

Fairgame: I saw plenty of good buff, but I was looking for something exceptional. I only focused on buff the last 2 days of the hunt - that's just not much time to hunt what I was looking for. Plus, there was a lot of water still available and much ground to cover - by September, I understand that changes.
 
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Very well done on a great safari.
 
Posts: 535 | Location: Zimbabwe | Registered: 10 August 2012Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by tygersman:
Thanks for the comments, guys.

Fairgame: I saw plenty of good buff, but I was looking for something exceptional. I only focused on buff the last 2 days of the hunt - that's just not much time to hunt what I was looking for. Plus, there was a lot of water still available and much ground to cover - by September, I understand that changes.


Good on you and a daylight Leopard is one of Africa's top trophies. There are a couple of other Luangwa concessions that produce very fine buff and you would do well to do dome research.


ROYAL KAFUE LTD
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Posts: 7357 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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Hi Charles

I have been away for 17 days hunting with fellow AR member Marty and Sue Vick ! Just wanted to say awesome report and thanks for been our "Guinea pig"and been the first of what I hope will be many cms clients to Zambia. Upper Lupande is really an amazing area and your hunt proved that- well done indeed and see you at the shows! All the best Buzz
 
Posts: 888 | Location: Zimbabwe | Registered: 22 June 2009Reply With Quote
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Congrats on a great hunt. Looks like a very good trip indeed. Nice report and photos!
 
Posts: 1753 | Location: South Dakota | Registered: 22 August 2004Reply With Quote
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Nice cat! Congrats...


On the plains of hesitation lie the bleached bones of ten thousand, who on the dawn of victory lay down their weary heads resting, and there resting, died.

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Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch...
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
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Life grows grim without senseless indulgence.
 
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BEAUTY....

dancing

Some great photos!


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Posts: 228 | Location: Zimbabwe | Registered: 21 November 2010Reply With Quote
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Great looking cat. Congrats on a fine hunt. Also interesting to see the hyena in daylight. I'd say you had a great hunt even tho it was shortened. Well done. Bruce
 
Posts: 266 | Location: Gillette, Wy USA | Registered: 11 May 2012Reply With Quote
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Just wonderful tu2

Morten


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Posts: 868 | Location: Oslo area, Norway | Registered: 26 June 2013Reply With Quote
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quote:
Originally posted by Buzz Charlton:
Hi Charles

I have been away for 17 days hunting with fellow AR member Marty and Sue Vick ! Just wanted to say awesome report and thanks for been our "Guinea pig"and been the first of what I hope will be many cms clients to Zambia. Upper Lupande is really an amazing area and your hunt proved that- well done indeed and see you at the shows! All the best Buzz


A PH recently showed me some Lion photos and they were brutes.


ROYAL KAFUE LTD
Email - kafueroyal@gmail.com
Tel/Whatsapp (00260) 975315144
Instagram - kafueroyal
 
Posts: 7357 | Location: Zambia | Registered: 10 April 2009Reply With Quote
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