"It was June 2012 when Earl Lanning first set foot on African soil. He was 80 years old and finally
fulfilled his dream to hunt Africa ... his story was published last year ....... "When 4 Daggas Go
Head to Head!" At the end of this article I mentioned Earl will be returning this July to fulfill his
ultimate dream ... LEOPARD !
Earl and his lifelong friend Mel Hankla arrived at our camp on July 14. We had quite a few leopards
on bait but we were targeting a specific male with a very bad limp on his left hind leg. We have
known this male for about 3 years as he frequented the bait area from time to time . He was a very
old guy and was also losing condition quickly .
with Mel Hankla
|We are very happy to welcome back Earl
Lanning from North Carolina. Earl hunted
a beautiful Buffalo with us in 2012.
Earl accompanied is this time by good
friend Mel Hankla from Kentucky. Mel
deals in "Fine Americana"!
Check out his website here!
|Earl started his second African Expidition with this
very lovely Sable. Not only was this a great shot but
a mercy hunt too as this Sable has been loosing
and may not have survived for much longer!
sit this bait again. The next morning we decided to check
a different bait on a neighbouring property we put up only
4 days earlier as a back up plan should "Lefty" disappear .
By now we have named him Lefty due to his injured back
We were astonished to find probably the biggest leopard
track I have ever seen close to our new bait ... We
checked the camera and had only blurry pictures of this
potential monster. We changed the camera to video and
started building a blind .
|Below is a great story about the hunt that Richard
wrote - check out the full story and pictures here -
We checked both baits the next day ...
Earl had a reason to smile .... The
smaller cats on the previous night ....
So thanks to Earl's gun being left
behind we saved ourselves a cold
slow night in the blind . Lefty had also
not been back yet .
Sunday morning both baits did not
have any good news on the males
Then came Monday July 22 ..... We
checked BOOKER bait to find only
the 2 younger leopards were on the
bait the previous night .
We tried to get him to commit to the bait since April . He
would sometimes stay 2 or 3 days and then disappear like a
ghost in the night for weeks. We were very exited when he
appeared again a week before Earl arrived. True to his
nature after 2 days he was gone again for 7 days.
He finally reappeared on June 14 the day Earl arrived. We
decided seeing that he was very unpredictable to sit
Monday July 15 ... We also had a cub and heavily pregnant
female on the same bait .
We went in about 4 in the afternoon. True to his
unpredictability he did not show up and we were
entertained by the female most of the night ...
Lefty was still on one of his now famous disappearing acts. We decided to get BOOKER . We left
the camp to get into the blind long before dark . We also had another young male and a female
feeding on the same bait as BOOKER ...
We started unpacking and getting everybody in the blind only to realise we had everything besides
Earl's gun! We had to turn back as there were no time to go back and get the gun . We decided to
give him one more night to get comfortable with the bait.
Then to LEFTY .... I told the guys on Sunday night I believe one of the TOMS would be back that
night .... and so it was. LEFTY was back after 7 days. We immediately got things ready for that night.
We could not take any chances of him disappearing again .
This was going to be a FULL MOON ..... We got into the blind a little before 4 o'clock . We had all
our equipment up. Trail camera , remote light with rheostat, hand held infra red light and 2 sets of
night vision.... We were READY !!!!
Soon after dark a TOM made his
presence known by the all familiar
hoarse rasping cough . We heard
him a couple of times close but he
did not commit ... Finally in the Full
moon 5 minutes before midnight he
walked in like he has never been
gone . He starting fighting the bait
immediately. We got Earl ready. The
light came on and after what felt like
an eternity the silence of the night
was broken by Earl's .375 H&H !
He leaped up in the air and landed on his
feet and charged off into the darkness. We
could still hear him for another 20
seconds. We called the vehicle and the
rest of the back up in. We first looked at
the trail cam only to realise the actual shot
was not captured.
We then looked around and Rowan found
the blood trail . Rowan and I stared off on
the trail armed with powerful flashlights
and a shotgun each . He left a good blood
trail and about 70 yrds from the bait we
spotted a thick brushy area he ran into and
you could see he connected hard with one
of the small trees.
We decided to go around and check the other side. We could see the small tree from the other side and
saw a little trail heading down to a ditch. I headed down this trail and 10 paces further I spotted him in
It was LEFTY....The ULTIMATE trophy any hunter can get. He measured just under 8' 1". He weighed
in at 178 lbs which would have been quite bit more in his hay day ... Skull measured 17" exactly !
Congratulations to Earl achieving this at 81 ..... By the sound of things it is not the end yet ..... We will
keep you posted on this remarkable hunter that took his first trip to Africa at 80 !!!!"
Earl brought with a special bottle of "BOOKERS" to be opened only when the cat is on the ground .
This new possible Tom got named BOOKER . He reappeared on Thursday July 18.
We went in about 4 in the afternoon. True to his unpredictability he did not show up and we were
entertained by the female most of the night ...