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Baiting and Hunting From a Blind - Ian van Heerden

Leaving the skin on your bait is preferable I feel for a more natural presentation, but once lion are feeding, they accept all manner of largesse with equal favour. Again it comes back to a balanced approach and a bit of common sense. Hanging an elephantís leg bone or a carcass stripped of meat as a bait is not going to detain your average lion very long. I have found that lion would feed on impala very readily, but it became prohibitive if the baiting went on for any length of time, as they were able to remove them from the retaining chain or rope with ease, if any degree of purchase was available to tooth or claw.

To construct a blind or hide need not be an elaborate or complicated exercise, the best ingredients being a practical option with a dash of imagination thrown in. A screen of hessian or a grass structure to fence off an area camouflaged with a few judiciously placed leafy branches will suffice.

Bear in mind that lion are not stupid, although not in the same league of alertness as a leopard. So, do not build a pile of leafy branches on a frame in the middle of an open patch of ground. If nothing else, curiosity will draw an animal closer to investigate the unusual. Distance and good visibility are two vital points to consider, with a concealed entry way essential. Even moving in at night, you need to be concealed from the bait area as far as possible.

Camouflaged inside a bush or up against a tree or in a slight hollow, the blind should be large enough for two chairs side by side. (Even if you are not hunting with a P.H. you should be hunting with a companion if after dangerous game). The floor should be levelled and cleared of debris to ensure quiet movement in and out. A couple of poles with V-shaped tops fixed in the ground to support your rifle which will be pointed at the bait area. The minimum length of barrel should protrude to avoid excessive movement attracting attention and reducing the possibility of light reflecting off the metal. Once the lion is at the bait, it should require minimum movement to align your weapon and with a dead rest your shot should be on target. You will of course have sighted your rifle at the exact distance beforehand.

Clear a pathway into the blind, sweeping all dead leaves off it and removing overhanging twigs or thorny branches that can impede your quiet movement. Marking the path with small bits of white paper for ease of navigation in the early hours is also a good move.

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Your tree should be visible from your blind with few vestiges of cover close to it. Again a balance is required - not too open to discourage lying up and not too dense to conceal.

Once you have your site picked and prepared your bait and blind, you need to broadcast your intended mealís presence, so if possible do a drag either side of your bait to attract potential customers. A good drag of some choice ripe entrails across the line of where you think the lion may be moving to and from in an area, or around a feature such as a waterhole, will entice the cat to your bait and blind. It will also attract the small scavengers whose nocturnal chorus may bring the lion to investigate the possibility of a free meal. They are not averse to free meat and will happily feed on what is provided for as long as you are prepared to keep doing it. Being cats and perverse by nature, they are not entirely predictable however.

To the uninitiated, the time passed in a lion or leopard blind sounds a little tedious and unsporting. I have found out that it gives me the time to relax in the initial stages of the wait with a good book, or purely to allow the mind to wander and ponder - something that our modern life styles do not afford us the opportunity to do very often. As the waiting progresses you have to sharpen your lesser used senses like hearing, and try to decipher the sounds around you for a clue as to whether your quarry is about. The call of a bird or baboon, the alarm bark of a bushbuck or kudu can mean that your cat is on the move. You are now at a disadvantage in that you are enclosed within a blind with a very limited range of vision, while your quarry is roaming free.

Any feeling of superiority one may feel is instantly dissipated when you are sitting in your chair facing the aperture and the sound of sniffing comes from the rear and a glance reveals a lionís eye at the crack of the door trying to ascertain what is within the strange structure. To rise from oneís seat and to land back on it facing the said door with rifle aimed in one movement is an involuntary reflex that no amount of practice could achieve if you tried it a hundred times, without the feline stimulus.

If you have followed the basic rules, prepared as best you can, and most of all - if the hunting gods are in a favourable mood, you will end up with your trophy - the biggest, blackest maned lion anybody has ever seen.

Go to Page: 1 2 3 Related Articles: Hunting Lion Part 2
In Defense of Baiting Cats
African Hunter Vol.5 No.5 October 1999
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