African Hunting Gear

The Hard Hitting 300 Winchester Magnum on Safari in Africa

Rifles are included free of charge in all Nick Bowker hunt packages. We use 300 Win Mags with suppressors as our preferred African safari rifle. Here’s why?

History and development of 300 Winchester magnums

The .300 Winchester Magnum, often referred to as the .300 Win Mag, is a powerful rifle cartridge with a rich history and development that has made it a popular choice among hunters and long-range shooters since its introduction in the mid-20th century. The cartridge was designed by Winchester Repeating Arms Company in 1963 as a part of their larger family of Winchester Magnum cartridges.

The .300 Win Mag was developed to provide a high-powered, flat-shooting cartridge that could deliver superior performance at extended ranges. Its genesis was influenced by the desire for a cartridge that combined the power of the .375 H&H Magnum with the manageable recoil of the .30-06 Springfield. The result was a well-balanced cartridge that could deliver impressive velocity and energy, making it effective for big game hunting and long-range shooting.

The Hard Hitting 300 Winchester Magnum on Safari in Africa

The design of the .300 Win Mag includes a belted case, which aids in consistent chambering and extraction. Its dimensions allow it to fit in standard-length rifle actions, allowing shooters to use it in various firearms. The cartridge has gained widespread acceptance and popularity among hunters and precision shooters due to its versatility, accuracy, and hard-hitting performance.

Over the years, advancements in propellant and bullet technology have further enhanced the capabilities of the .300 Win Mag. The cartridge has become a favorite among those pursuing game such as elk, moose, and other large North American species. Additionally, its long-range accuracy has made it a preferred choice for precision rifle competitions and military applications.

Whether in the hands of hunters in pursuit of big game or marksmen seeking superior ballistic performance, the .300 Winchester Magnum has established itself as a reliable and effective cartridge, contributing to its enduring popularity in the world of firearms.

One of our 300 Winchester Magnums

What are the advantages of hunting with a 300 Winchester magnum?

The .300 Winchester Magnum offers several advantages for hunters, making it a popular choice for those pursuing a variety of game, particularly at longer distances. Some of the key advantages include:

  1. Long-Range Accuracy: The .300 Win Mag is renowned for its flat trajectory and excellent long-range performance. This makes it well-suited for hunters who may encounter games at extended distances, providing the accuracy and energy needed for ethical and effective shots.
  2. Versatility: The cartridge’s versatility is a significant advantage. The .300 Win Mag is capable of taking down a wide range of game, from smaller species like deer to larger and tougher animals like elk and moose. This versatility makes it a go-to choice for hunters who pursue different types of game in various environments.
  3. Power and Energy: The .300 Win Mag delivers substantial power and energy, making it effective for taking down large and heavily built animals. The combination of a powerful cartridge and a variety of available bullet types allows hunters to tailor their ammunition to specific game and hunting conditions.
  4. Adaptability to Various Firearms: The cartridge is designed to fit into standard-length rifle actions, providing hunters with the flexibility to choose from a wide range of rifle models. This adaptability allows hunters to select a rifle that suits their preferences in terms of weight, barrel length, and other factors.
  5. Availability of Ammunition: The .300 Win Mag is widely available, and a variety of factory-loaded ammunition options are offered by different manufacturers. This accessibility makes it convenient for hunters to find suitable ammunition for their specific needs, whether for hunting or target shooting.
  6. Effective Energy Transfer: The high velocity and energy of the .300 Win Mag contribute to effective energy transfer upon impact, helping to ensure quick and humane kills. This is especially important in hunting situations where a fast, clean kill is desired to minimize the suffering of the animal.

It’s important to note that while the .300 Winchester Magnum offers these advantages, the appropriate choice of cartridge depends on factors such as the type of game, hunting environment, and personal preferences. Hunters should always consider ethical and responsible hunting practices, choosing a cartridge that aligns with the specific requirements of their hunting pursuits.

What are the disadvantages of hunting with a 300 Winchester magnum?

While the .300 Winchester Magnum has many advantages, it also comes with certain disadvantages that potential users should consider:

  1. Recoil: The .300 Win Mag generates significant recoil, which can be challenging for some shooters, particularly those who are less experienced or sensitive to recoil. Managing recoil becomes especially important for consistent accuracy, and it may require additional training or the use of recoil-reducing devices.
  2. Ammunition Cost: Compared to some other popular hunting cartridges, ammunition for the .300 Win Mag can be relatively expensive. This cost can be a factor for shooters who engage in frequent practice or those on a tight budget.
  3. Overkill for Smaller Game: The power of the .300 Win Mag may be considered excessive for hunting smaller game, such as whitetail deer or varmints. The high energy transfer could result in significant damage to the meat, which may not be desirable for some hunters.
  4. Barrel Wear: The .300 Win Mag can be tough on barrels due to its high velocity and pressure. This may result in faster barrel wear compared to cartridges with less powder capacity. Regular maintenance and monitoring of barrel condition are recommended for users who shoot their rifles frequently.
  5. Noise and Muzzle Blast: The larger powder charge and higher velocities of the .300 Win Mag contribute to increased noise and muzzle blast. This can be a consideration for those who hunt in areas with restrictions on noise levels or for shooters who are sensitive to loud reports.
  6. Limited Magazine Capacity: Rifles chambered in .300 Win Mag often have a limited magazine capacity compared to cartridges with smaller case sizes. This can be a concern in situations where a rapid follow-up shot is needed, although this may vary depending on the specific rifle model.
  7. Excessive for Short-Range Hunting: The flat trajectory and long-range capabilities of the .300 Win Mag may not be fully utilized in short-range hunting scenarios, where a more moderate cartridge might provide similar effectiveness with less recoil.

As with any firearm and cartridge choice, it’s essential for users to carefully consider their specific needs, preferences, and the intended use of the rifle. While the .300 Winchester Magnum is a powerful and versatile cartridge, it may not be the best fit for every shooter or hunting situation.

300 Win Mag

What makes of 300 Winchester magnum are available?

There are numerous manufacturers that produce rifles chambered in .300 Winchester Magnum. The availability of specific models can vary over time due to changes in product lines, but as of my last knowledge update in January 2022, here are some well-known firearms manufacturers that offer rifles in .300 Win Mag:

  1. Remington: The Remington Model 700 is a popular bolt-action rifle available in .300 Win Mag. Remington has been a longstanding and reputable manufacturer in the firearms industry.
  2. Winchester Repeating Arms: Given that the .300 Win Mag cartridge was developed by Winchester, it’s not surprising that Winchester produces rifles chambered in this cartridge. The Winchester Model 70 is a classic bolt-action rifle available in .300 Win Mag.
  3. Browning: Browning offers several rifles in .300 Win Mag, including models like the X-Bolt and A-Bolt. Browning is known for its high-quality firearms.
  4. Savage Arms: The Savage Model 110 is a popular bolt-action rifle, and it is available in .300 Win Mag. Savage is known for offering accurate and affordable rifles.
  5. Tikka: The Tikka T3 and T3x series, manufactured by Sako in Finland, includes rifles chambered in .300 Win Mag. Tikka rifles are recognized for their accuracy and smooth performance.
  6. Weatherby: The Weatherby Mark V is a line of rifles that includes models chambered in .300 Win Mag. Weatherby is known for producing high-quality and accurate rifles.
  7. Ruger: Ruger’s Hawkeye and American series include rifles chambered in .300 Win Mag. Ruger is a well-respected American firearms manufacturer.
  8. Howa: The Howa 1500 is a bolt-action rifle available in .300 Win Mag. Howa is a Japanese firearms manufacturer known for producing reliable rifles.
  9. Christensen Arms: Christensen Arms is known for its lightweight and accurate rifles. They offer several models chambered in .300 Win Mag.
  10. Sako: The Sako 85 is a line of rifles that includes models chambered in .300 Win Mag. Sako is a Finnish manufacturer known for producing high-quality firearms.

Other important points to consider

When considering the .300 Winchester Magnum for hunting or shooting, there are several important aspects to highlight. These factors can influence your decision to use this cartridge and contribute to a positive shooting or hunting experience:

  1. Ballistics: Understanding the ballistics of the .300 Win Mag is crucial. This includes the cartridge’s velocity, trajectory, and energy at various distances. Familiarize yourself with the specific ballistics of the ammunition you plan to use, as this information will help you make accurate shots, especially at longer ranges.
  2. Bullet Selection: The .300 Win Mag allows for a wide range of bullet weights and designs. Choose bullets that are appropriate for the type of game you’re hunting. Different bullet types, such as soft points, ballistic tips, or bonded bullets, offer various performance characteristics, and selecting the right one for your intended use is essential.
  3. Recoil Management: The .300 Win Mag generates significant recoil, which can be challenging for some shooters. Proper shooting techniques, recoil pads, and muzzle brakes can help manage recoil, ensuring accurate and comfortable shooting.
  4. Rifle Configuration: Consider the type of rifle and its configuration. Bolt-action rifles are the most common for the .300 Win Mag, but there are also semi-automatic and other action types available. Factors such as barrel length, stock design, and overall weight can influence the rifle’s handling and performance.
  5. Optics: Quality optics are crucial when using the .300 Win Mag, especially for long-range shooting or hunting. Invest in a reliable scope with appropriate magnification and features like bullet drop compensation (BDC) or turret adjustments to enhance accuracy at different distances.
  6. Ammunition Quality: The quality of ammunition matters for consistent and reliable performance. Stick to reputable ammunition manufacturers and select cartridges that have a track record of accuracy and reliability. Testing different brands and bullet types can help you find what works best for your specific needs.
  7. Hunting Regulations: Ensure that the .300 Win Mag is legal for the game you plan to hunt. Different regions and countries may have specific regulations regarding minimum caliber requirements for certain species. Always comply with local hunting laws and ethical guidelines.
  8. Cleaning and Maintenance: Regular cleaning and maintenance are crucial for the longevity and reliability of your rifle. The high velocity and pressure of the .300 Win Mag can lead to increased barrel wear, so proper care and maintenance are essential.
  9. Training and Practice: Given the recoil and power of the .300 Win Mag, consistent training and practice are vital. Familiarize yourself with the rifle, practice shooting from various positions, and become proficient at different distances to ensure accurate and ethical shots in the field.
  10. Ethical Hunting Practices: Always prioritize ethical hunting practices. Be aware of your shooting abilities, understand the anatomy of the game you’re hunting, and strive for clean, humane kills. Proper shot placement is crucial when using a powerful cartridge like the .300 Win Mag.

By paying attention to these key areas, you can make informed decisions about using the .300 Winchester Magnum, enhancing your overall shooting or hunting experience with this powerful cartridge.

Types of ammunition for the 300 Winchester magnum

The .300 Winchester Magnum is a versatile cartridge, and various types of ammunition are available to suit different purposes, whether it be hunting, long-range shooting, or target practice. Here are some common types of ammunition for the .300 Win Mag, each with its characteristics and applications:

  1. Soft Point (SP): Soft point bullets are designed with an exposed lead tip, offering controlled expansion upon impact. This makes them well-suited for hunting applications, especially for medium to large game. Soft point bullets typically retain a significant portion of their weight, ensuring deep penetration and effective energy transfer.
  2. Ballistic Tip: Ballistic tip bullets have a plastic tip over a lead core, designed to combine the rapid expansion of a hollow point with the aerodynamics of a spitzer bullet. This design enhances long-range accuracy and makes ballistic tip ammunition suitable for hunting various game, including deer and elk.
  3. Hollow Point (HP): Hollow point bullets have a concave opening at the tip, causing the bullet to expand upon impact. While hollow points are commonly associated with handgun ammunition, they are available in certain .300 Win Mag loads. They can be effective for hunting, particularly in situations where controlled expansion is desired.
  4. Boat-Tail Hollow Point (BTHP): Boat-tail hollow point bullets have a boat-tail base for improved ballistic efficiency and a hollow point for controlled expansion. This design is often chosen for precision shooting and is suitable for both hunting and long-range target shooting.
  5. Bonded Bullets: Bonded bullets are constructed to prevent the lead core from separating from the jacket upon impact. This design ensures deep penetration and weight retention, making bonded bullets suitable for hunting large and tough game. They are often favored for dangerous game hunts.
  6. Partition Bullets: Partition bullets, popularized by Nosler, have a dual-core design with a front lead core that expands and a rear partition that retains weight for deep penetration. This design provides a good balance between expansion and penetration, making partition bullets effective for a variety of game.
  7. Full Metal Jacket (FMJ): Full metal jacket ammunition features a lead core enclosed by a jacket, typically made of copper. FMJ bullets are known for their penetration and are commonly used for target practice and training. However, they may not be ideal for hunting due to their tendency to pass through game without expanding.
  8. Match Grade Ammo: Match grade ammunition is designed for precision and accuracy, making it suitable for competitive shooting and long-range target practice. These loads often feature high-quality components, consistent powder charges, and carefully crafted bullets.
  9. Managed-Recoil Ammo: Some manufacturers offer managed-recoil ammunition designed to reduce felt recoil while maintaining sufficient power for hunting. These loads can be beneficial for shooters who are sensitive to recoil or for those looking to improve shot placement during extended shooting sessions.

When selecting ammunition for your .300 Winchester Magnum, it’s essential to consider the intended use, whether it’s hunting specific game, long-range shooting, or general target practice. Understanding the characteristics of different bullet types and choosing ammunition that aligns with your needs will contribute to a successful and enjoyable shooting experience.

Bullet Weights

The .300 Winchester Magnum is a versatile cartridge, and ammunition is available in a variety of bullet weights, commonly measured in grains (gr). The appropriate grain weight depends on the intended use, whether it’s hunting specific game, long-range precision shooting, or other applications. Here are some common bullet weights available for .300 Win Mag ammunition:

  1. 150-165 grains: Lighter bullets in the 150 to 165-grain range are suitable for a variety of game, including deer and antelope. They can offer flatter trajectories and higher muzzle velocities, making them well-suited for medium-sized game and longer-range shooting.
  2. 180 grains: This is one of the most popular bullet weights for the .300 Win Mag. The 180-grain bullets strike a good balance between velocity, energy, and penetration. They are versatile and can be used for a wide range of game, including elk and larger species.
  3. 190-200 grains: Heavier bullets in the 190 to 200-grain range are often chosen for hunting larger and tougher game, such as moose or bear. These bullets may offer deeper penetration and greater retained energy, making them effective for big game at closer ranges.
  4. 210 grains and above: Some .300 Win Mag ammunition is available with bullets weighing 210 grains and above. These heavy bullets are often chosen for long-range shooting and can be effective for precision applications. However, they may not expand as rapidly as lighter bullets, so proper shot placement is crucial.
African Hunting Gear

Hunting Suppressors for Africa. Why is a Silencer Important?

What is a hunting suppressor?

A hunting suppressor, also known as a hunting silencer or moderator, is a device designed to reduce the noise generated by the discharge of a firearm. It is commonly used by hunters to minimize the loud sound produced when a bullet is fired. The primary purpose of a hunting suppressor is to decrease the noise signature of the gunshot, making it less disruptive in hunting environments.

Suppressors work by trapping and slowing down the escaping gases produced during the firing of a bullet. This reduces the velocity of the gases and lowers the intensity of the sound. While a suppressor significantly reduces the noise, it doesn’t eliminate it entirely. Additionally, suppressors can also have other benefits, such as reducing recoil and muzzle rise, improving accuracy, and providing a more enjoyable shooting experience.

It’s important to note that the legality of hunting suppressors varies by country and region. In some places, they are tightly regulated or prohibited, while in others, they may be legal for certain types of firearms and activities. Hunters should always be aware of and comply with local laws and regulations regarding the use of suppressors.

Hunting Suppressors for Africa. Why is a Silencer Important?

What is the difference between a suppressor and a muzzle break?

A suppressor (or silencer) and a muzzle brake are both firearm accessories, but they serve different purposes and have distinct functions.

  1. Suppressor (Silencer):
    • Purpose: The primary purpose of a suppressor is to reduce the noise generated by the discharge of a firearm.
    • Function: Suppressors work by trapping and slowing down the escaping gases produced when a bullet is fired. This helps to decrease the intensity of the sound produced.
    • Additional Benefits: In addition to noise reduction, suppressors can also reduce recoil, muzzle rise, and the visual signature of the gunshot.
  2. Muzzle Brake:
    • Purpose: The primary purpose of a muzzle brake is to reduce recoil and muzzle rise.
    • Function: Muzzle brakes are designed to redirect gases produced during the firing of a round to counteract the recoil and upward movement of the firearm. This can make it easier for the shooter to stay on target during rapid or repeated firing.
    • Noise Impact: Muzzle brakes do not reduce the noise of a gunshot. In fact, they may increase the perceived noise to the shooter and those in close proximity because the redirected gases can create a louder blast.

In summary, a suppressor is primarily designed to reduce the noise signature of a gunshot, while a muzzle brake is designed to mitigate recoil and muzzle rise.

It’s also worth noting that some devices, called muzzle devices or hybrid devices, combine features of both suppressors and muzzle brakes, providing some noise reduction along with recoil control. Users should be aware of legal restrictions on these accessories, as regulations can vary by jurisdiction.

Hunting suppressors are legal in South Africa and can be purchased over the counter. We use a suppressor on all our rifles. We also buy suppressors for our clients to use while hunting in South Africa. They are relatively inexpensive. We do need advance notice and your exact thread pitch.

If you are using our rifles they are fitted with state of the art combination suppressors and muzzle brakes for your safari. Use our rifles and use the extra money to invest in quality binoculars.

One of our rifles with a suppressor

Here are the advantages of using a suppressor while hunting:

  1. Reduced Noise:
    • The primary benefit of using a suppressor is a significant reduction in the noise produced by the gunshot. This is particularly advantageous in hunting situations where minimizing noise can be crucial for not disturbing wildlife or alerting nearby hunters.
  2. Hearing Protection:
    • Hunters are exposed to loud gunshots, which can contribute to hearing damage over time. Suppressors can help mitigate this risk by reducing the intensity of the noise, providing a form of hearing protection for the shooter.
  3. Improved Shot Placement:
    • With reduced recoil and muzzle rise, shooters may find it easier to maintain target acquisition and accuracy, leading to improved shot placement. This is especially valuable in situations where follow-up shots may be necessary.
  4. Reduced Recoil:
    • Suppressors can decrease felt recoil, making shooting more comfortable for the hunter. This is beneficial for hunters, especially those using high-caliber rifles, as it helps to mitigate the physical impact on the shooter.
  5. Minimized Disturbance:
    • The quieter discharge of a suppressed firearm is less likely to disturb wildlife in the vicinity. This can be advantageous in hunting scenarios where stealth and minimizing disruption to the natural environment are important.
  6. Enhanced Communication:
    • In a group hunting setting, the use of suppressors allows for better communication between hunters. The reduced noise allows hunters to communicate without being hindered by loud gunshots.
  7. Reduced Muzzle Flash:
    • Suppressors can also help reduce muzzle flash, which can be particularly useful in low-light conditions. This can contribute to maintaining better visibility of the target and surroundings.

Disadvantages of Suppressors for hunters

  1. Regulatory Restrictions:
    • Suppressors are subject to strict regulations in many regions. In some places, ownership and use may be heavily restricted or prohibited. Users should be familiar with and comply with local suppressor laws and regulations. South Africa has no regulations associated with suppressors.
  2. Added Weight and Length:
    • Suppressors add weight and length to the firearm. This can impact the overall balance of the gun and may be a consideration for those who prioritize a lightweight and compact setup, especially in dynamic hunting or shooting situations.
  3. Cost:
    • Suppressors can be expensive, and the cost may include the suppressor itself and any additional fees associated with licensing and compliance with regulations. In the context of a hunt safari to Africa though the cost is small.
  4. Maintenance:
    • Suppressors require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. Fouling can accumulate inside the suppressor over time, affecting its effectiveness. Proper cleaning and maintenance are essential to keep the suppressor in good working condition.
  5. Aesthetics:
    • Some users may find that the addition of a suppressor changes the appearance of the firearm. This is a subjective consideration, but for those who value the original aesthetics of their firearm, it could be a factor to consider.
  6. Potential Accuracy Impact:
    • While many modern suppressors are designed not to negatively impact accuracy, some users may find that their specific firearm and ammunition combination are affected. It’s essential to test the setup to ensure there is no significant impact on accuracy.

Traveling with s Silencer in the USA on route to South Africa

While suppressors (silencers) are legal for civilian ownership in many states in the USA, there are additional considerations when it comes to flying with a suppressor. Transporting a suppressor across state lines or on an airplane involves adherence to federal regulations, specifically those outlined by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. National Firearms Act (NFA) Compliance:
    • Suppressors are regulated under the National Firearms Act (NFA). To legally transport a suppressor, it must be registered in compliance with NFA regulations.
  2. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Rules:
    • The TSA has specific rules for transporting firearms and firearm accessories, including suppressors, on commercial flights. Firearms and firearm parts must be transported in checked baggage and declared to the airline during check-in.
  3. Locked Container Requirement:
    • Firearms, including suppressors, must be transported in a locked hard-sided container. Ammunition is typically not allowed in the same container.
  4. Check with the Airline:
    • It’s essential to check with the specific airline for any additional requirements or restrictions they may have regarding the transport of firearms and suppressors.
  5. State-Specific Laws:
    • Even if suppressors are legal in your state, you must also be aware of the laws in the state(s) to which you are traveling. Some states may have additional regulations or restrictions.
  6. Local Laws at the Destination:
    • Be aware of and comply with local laws at your destination. Just because you can legally possess a suppressor in your home state doesn’t necessarily mean the same rules apply everywhere.
  7. Approval and Paperwork:
    • It’s advisable to have all relevant paperwork, including ATF approval documents and any necessary permits, with you when traveling with a suppressor.

Remember that regulations can change, and checking for any updates or changes in federal and state laws is crucial before traveling with a suppressor. Always follow the specific procedures outlined by the ATF, TSA, and the airline you use to ensure legal and secure transportation.

How does the point of aim change with a suppressor, and what do you need to do?

The point of impact (POI) can shift when using a suppressor on a firearm, and this phenomenon is often referred to as “POI shift.” Several factors can contribute to this shift, and it’s important for shooters to be aware of it when using a suppressor. Here are some common reasons for POI shift and what you can do to address it:

  1. Weight and Length Changes:
    • Adding a suppressor to the muzzle of a firearm changes its weight and length. This alteration can affect the balance of the firearm, potentially leading to a shift in the point of impact.
  2. Barrel Harmonics:
    • The addition of a suppressor can influence the barrel harmonics, which refers to the vibrations and movements of the barrel during and after firing. Changes in barrel harmonics can result in a shift in POI.
  3. Attachment and Alignment:
    • The way the suppressor is attached to the firearm and how well it aligns with the barrel can impact the POI. Any misalignment or improper attachment can cause inconsistencies in shot placement.
  4. Ammunition Variability:
    • Different types of ammunition may respond differently when used with a suppressor. Changes in bullet weight, velocity, or powder load can contribute to POI shift.

To address POI shift when using a suppressor, consider the following:

  1. Zero the Firearm with the Suppressor:
    • If you plan to use a suppressor regularly, zero the firearm with the suppressor attached. This involves adjusting the sights or optic while the suppressor is on the firearm. This way, the sights are calibrated to the specific conditions of shooting with the suppressor.
  2. Consistent Attachment:
    • Ensure that the suppressor is consistently and securely attached to the firearm. Any movement or misalignment can contribute to POI shift.
  3. Ammunition Consistency:
    • Stick to a consistent type and brand of ammunition when using a suppressor. This can help minimize variability in bullet performance and reduce the likelihood of POI shift.
  4. Record and Monitor Shifts:
    • Keep records of your shots and monitor for any consistent POI shifts. This information can help you make adjustments as needed and understand how the suppressor affects your specific setup.
  5. Adjust Sights or Optics:
    • If you experience POI shift, you may need to make adjustments to your sights or optic to compensate for the changes introduced by the suppressor.

It’s important to note that the extent of POI shift can vary depending on factors such as the type of firearm, suppressor, ammunition, and shooting conditions. Regular practice and monitoring of your firearm’s performance with a suppressor will help you understand and manage any POI shifts effectively.

What is the length of a suppressor, and does the existing barrel length matter?

The length of a suppressor can vary significantly depending on the design, intended use, and the type of firearm it is meant for. Suppressors come in various lengths to accommodate different needs and preferences, ranging from short and compact designs to longer models.

The overall length of a suppressor is typically measured from the front to the rear of the device. The actual length can be influenced by factors such as the number of baffles, the type of construction, and the materials used.

As for the existing barrel length, it can indeed matter when choosing a suppressor. The length of the barrel affects the overall length of the firearm when the suppressor is attached. Some considerations related to barrel length and suppressors include:

  1. Legal Requirements:
    • In some jurisdictions, there may be regulations specifying the minimum barrel length for certain firearms. When adding a suppressor, you need to ensure that the resulting overall length is compliant with local laws.
  2. Balancing and Maneuverability:
    • The combination of the barrel length and suppressor can impact the overall balance and manoeuvrability of the firearm. This is particularly important in situations where quick and precise handling is necessary.
  3. Suppressor Compatibility:
    • Some suppressors are designed for use with specific barrel lengths or caliber ranges. It’s important to choose a suppressor that is compatible with the firearm and barrel length you intend to use.
  4. Velocity and Performance:
    • The length of the barrel can affect the velocity of the projectile. When using a suppressor, it’s important to consider how changes in barrel length may impact the overall performance of the firearm.
  5. Sound Reduction:
    • The interaction between the suppressor and the barrel can influence the effectiveness of sound reduction. The combination of barrel length and suppressor design can affect the level of noise reduction achieved.

Before purchasing a suppressor, it’s advisable to consult the manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations. Additionally, if you have specific legal requirements or preferences related to barrel length and overall firearm length, those should be taken into account when selecting a suppressor.

What is a muzzle thread pitch on your hunting rifle?

The muzzle thread pitch refers to the measurement of the threads on the muzzle of a rifle barrel. It is specified as the distance between adjacent threads and is usually given in inches or millimeters.

For example, a common thread pitch might be 5/8 x 24, where 5/8 represents the diameter of the threads, and 24 indicates the number of threads per inch.

Most suppressors are threaded 5/8 x 24 which is the standard. Sako and Tikka are the exception with a metric thread pitch.

The thread pitch is essential for attaching muzzle devices, such as muzzle brakes, flash hiders, or suppressors, to the rifle. Different rifles may have different thread pitches, and it’s crucial to know the correct pitch to ensure compatibility when attaching accessories.

If you have a specific hunting rifle in mind, you can check the manufacturer’s specifications or consult the rifle’s manual to determine the muzzle thread pitch. It’s important to use the correct thread pitch when considering any modifications or additions to the muzzle of your firearm.

Suppressor Brands

We have extensive experience with suppressors as we use them every day for 8 months of the year. Our preference is for the Scandinavian brands.

  1. Artic: Suitable for 30 calibers with a built in muzzle break. Europe works on the metric system and not on the imperial system. The length is 225mm and they weigh 350 grams. The tube diameter is 45mm and the thread is metric 13/14 x 18. We use Sako products so the thread pitch works for us.
  2. Nielson: Nielson Sonic Silencers are made in Denmark. They make 21 different silencers spread across 6 different groups.

For us as outfitters one of the most important aspects of the above products is that they fit over the barrel rather than screwing on to the end of the barrel. This reduces the overall length and therefore the impact of the overall balance and manoeuvrability of the firearm

We are not sure of the availability of these products in the USA. These two products are available in the imperial system in South Africa for hunters wishing to buy one for use while hunting in South Africa. Adaptors are also available.

Well known US brands

The US has huge variety of suppressor brands. We don’t have extensive experience in using them so can’t really comment. But here is a potential list.

  1. SilencerCo: One of the largest and most well-known suppressor manufacturers in the U.S., offering a wide range of suppressors for different firearms.
  2. AAC (Advanced Armament Corporation): A pioneer in the suppressor industry, AAC is known for its innovative designs and quality products.
  3. Gemtech: With a history dating back to 1993, Gemtech produces a variety of suppressors for rifles and pistols.
  4. Dead Air Armament: Known for its durable and innovative designs, Dead Air produces suppressors for rifles and pistols.
  5. SureFire: In addition to their flashlight products, SureFire manufactures suppressors for various firearms.
  6. Rugged Suppressors: A company that emphasizes durability and performance in its suppressor designs.
  7. Q (Q, LLC): Known for its unique and high-performance suppressors, Q is a relatively newer entrant in the industry.
  8. Griffin Armament: Offers a range of suppressors for rifles and pistols, known for their modularity.
  9. Thunder Beast Arms Corporation (TBAC): Specializes in precision rifle suppressors, often used in precision shooting competitions.
  10. Yankee Hill Machine (YHM): YHM produces a variety of firearm accessories, including suppressors for rifles and pistols.
  11. Sig Sauer: In addition to firearms, Sig Sauer manufactures suppressors for various applications.
  12. Knights Armament Company (KAC): Known for its advanced firearms and accessories, KAC produces suppressors as well.
African Hunting Gear

Choosing the Perfect Binoculars for an African Safari

Introduction to Choosing the Perfect Binoculars for an African safari

Embarking on an African hunt safari is a dream for many nature enthusiasts and wildlife lovers. The vast landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and incredible array of wildlife make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

To truly immerse yourself in the beauty of the African wilderness, a reliable pair of safari binoculars is an essential companion. In this guide, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when choosing hunting binoculars, ensuring you make an informed decision that enhances your safari hunting adventure.

Choosing the Perfect Binoculars for an African Safari

Why are good hunting binoculars important for hunting in Africa?

  1. Observation and Scanning:
    • The vast and diverse landscapes of Africa require keen observation skills to spot wildlife from a distance. Good binoculars enable hunters to scan large areas efficiently, identifying potential targets and assessing their surroundings.
  2. Target Identification:
    • Positive identification of a target is crucial for ethical and responsible hunting. High-quality safari binoculars with clear optics allow hunters to identify species, gender, and trophy quality accurately, minimizing the risk of making mistakes that could lead to unintended consequences.
  3. Tracking and Stalking:
  4. Distance Estimation:
    • Many modern safari binoculars come with rangefinders, which assist hunters in accurately estimating distances to their targets. This is crucial for making precise and ethical shots, particularly in the diverse and often challenging terrains of Africa.
  5. Low-Light Performance:
    • African safaris often involve early morning and late evening hunts when light conditions are suboptimal for wildlife viewing. Quality binoculars with superior low-light performance ensure that hunters can continue to observe and identify the game even in dim lighting, extending the time available for hunting.
  6. Durability and Weather Resistance:
    • African environments can be harsh, with dust, humidity, and unpredictable weather conditions. Good safari binoculars are built to withstand these challenges, featuring durable, waterproof, and fog-proof constructions that can endure the rigors of the safari environment.
  7. Safety and Awareness:
    • Binoculars provide an enhanced field of view, allowing hunters to survey their surroundings more effectively. This not only aids in spotting potential game but also enhances overall situational awareness, contributing to safety in the field.
  8. Memorable Experience:
    • A high-quality pair of compact binoculars enhances the overall safari experience. Clear, bright, and detailed views through premium optics contribute to appreciating Africa’s stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife, creating lasting memories for the hunter.

In summary, good safari binoculars are indispensable tools for an African hunt safari, providing hunters with the optical capabilities needed for observation, target identification, and successful stalking. Investing in quality binoculars enhances the overall hunting experience while promoting responsible and ethical hunting practices.

What optics do we use as a Guide for Safaris in Africa?

At Nick Bowker Hunting, we believe high-quality safari binoculars are the most important piece of hunting gear for a safari. We spend hours glassing through varied terrain while game viewing. You will miss out on large parts of the safari by not having a good set of optics.

All our guides carry high-end optics with range finders. They will give you an exact range as you prepare to take your shot. If budgets allow, we suggest having binoculars with a range finder, further enhancing your African safari experience. Although remember, your guide has a range finder in his safari binoculars.

We use 10 x 42 Leica and Swarovski Safari binoculars. They are compact, light, and versatile.

Magnification and Objective Lens Size

One of the most critical aspects of selecting safari binoculars for an African hunt safari is understanding the magnification and objective optical lens size. Commonly denoted as two numbers (e.g., 8×42), the first number represents the magnification power, while the second indicates the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters.

For an African safari, a moderate magnification of 10x is recommended. Higher magnification may result in shaky images due to hand movements, challenging spotting and tracking wildlife. Additionally, around 42mm, a larger lens allows more light to enter the binoculars, ensuring clear and bright images even in low-light conditions common during dawn and dusk safaris.

Safari binoculars

Field of View for a Safari Binocular

The field of view is the width of the area visible through the safari binoculars at a specific distance. In the vast landscapes of Africa, a wide field of view is advantageous for locating and tracking animals with binoculars. A wider field of view is especially beneficial when observing fast-moving wildlife or scanning large areas for distant sightings.

When selecting safari binoculars, opt for models with a field of view of at least 300 feet at 1000 yards. This wide perspective enhances your ability to enjoy panoramic views and spot target animals that may be outside your immediate line of sight.

African safari waterbuck hunt with Nick Bowker.

Size and Weight

Considering the physical demands of an African safari, the size and weight of your binoculars are crucial factors. You’ll likely spend hours carrying them, so it’s essential to strike a balance between performance and portability.

Compact, lightweight binoculars with a durable, ergonomic design are ideal for safari adventures. Look for models that are easy to handle and fit comfortably in your hands. Additionally, consider investing in a binocular harness or strap for convenience and to reduce neck strain during extended use.

Durability and Weather Resistance for Hunting

African hunting safaris can expose your equipment and binoculars to challenging conditions, including dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures. Therefore, durability and weather resistance are paramount when choosing safari binoculars.

Opt for models with a robust, rubberized exterior that provides a secure grip and protects against impacts. Look for waterproof and fog-proof binoculars, ensuring they can withstand sudden rain showers or early morning dew without compromising optical performance.

South African Sable Antelope Safari with Nick Bowker.

Optical Coatings

The quality of optical coatings on binocular lenses significantly influences image clarity, brightness, and color fidelity. Multi-coated or fully multi-coated lenses reduce glare, enhance contrast, and deliver vibrant, true-to-life colors.

Quality coatings also play a role in low-light performance, a crucial consideration for dawn and dusk game drives. A higher price tag often corresponds to better optical coatings, so consider your budget in relation to the optical quality you desire in binoculars.

Focus System

Binoculars have two primary types of focus systems: center focus and individual eyepiece focus. Center focus is more common and user-friendly, allowing you to adjust both barrels simultaneously using a central focusing wheel. On the other hand, individual eyepiece focus requires adjusting each eyepiece separately and is commonly found in high-magnification binoculars.

For most safari enthusiasts, a center focus system is recommended for its ease of use and quick adjustments when observing moving wildlife.

Spotting scope with Swarovski glass.

Image Stability for Wildlife Viewing

Steady hands are crucial for observing distant subjects with high magnification binoculars. Image stabilization technology can significantly enhance your viewing experience by compensating for hand tremors and vibrations, providing a more stable image.

While binoculars with image stabilization are often pricier, they can be a worthwhile investment for those who prioritize image clarity, especially when observing wildlife from a moving vehicle.

Cape Eland shot with Nick Bowker

The Impact of Light on Binoculars

Brightness and Low-Light Conditions: The ability of binoculars to gather and transmit light directly affects their performance, especially in low-light conditions such as dawn or dusk. Binoculars with larger objective lenses, like 42mm or 50mm, permit more light to enter the optics, resulting in brighter and clearer images. This feature is particularly crucial for activities like wildlife observation or astronomy, where optimal visibility during low-light periods is essential.

Lens Coatings and Light Transmission: Lens coatings significantly impact how binoculars handle light. Multi-coated or fully multi-coated lenses reduce glare, enhance contrast, and maximize light transmission, contributing to sharper and more vibrant images. High-quality coatings are especially beneficial in challenging lighting situations, such as when observing subjects against a bright sky or in hazy conditions.

Color Fidelity and Contrast: The influence of light extends to color fidelity and contrast in observed images. Superior optics and coatings help maintain true-to-life colors and enhance contrast, ensuring that the viewer sees a rich and detailed representation of the observed scene with binoculars.

In summary, the impact of light on binoculars is multi-faceted, affecting image brightness, clarity, color accuracy, and overall viewing quality. Choosing binoculars with features that optimize light transmission and handling is essential for a rewarding and immersive experience, particularly in diverse lighting conditions encountered during outdoor activities.

Eye Relief in Binoculars

Eye relief in binoculars refers to the distance between the eyepiece lens and your eye at which you can see the entire field of view without vignetting or shadowing. This distance is typically measured in millimeters and is crucial for users who wear eyeglasses or those who want to maintain a comfortable viewing experience.

For individuals who do not wear eyeglasses, eye relief may not be a critical factor, but for eyeglass wearers, it becomes crucial. When wearing glasses, the eyes are farther from the eyepiece, and if the eye relief is insufficient, you may not be able to see the entire field of view. In such cases, adjusting the eyecups (if they are adjustable) or finding binoculars with longer eye relief is essential.

Here are a few key points related to eye relief in binoculars:

  1. Long Eye Relief: Binoculars with long eye relief (usually 15mm or more) are suitable for eyeglass wearers. This design ensures that individuals can see the entire field of view without having to press their glasses against the eyepiece.
  2. Short Eye Relief: Binoculars with short eye relief (typically less than 15mm) may cause vignetting or shadowing for eyeglass wearers, leading to a compromised viewing experience.
  3. Adjustable Eyecups: Some binoculars come with adjustable eyecups, allowing users to customize the eye relief. Twist-up or fold-down eyecups are common features that cater to both eyeglass and non-eyeglass wearers.

When choosing safari binoculars, especially if you wear glasses, it’s essential to consider eye relief to ensure a comfortable and unobstructed view. Reading the specifications of a binocular model or trying them out in person can help you determine if the eye relief is suitable for your needs.

Range Finders

One of the primary responsibilities of any ethical hunter is to ensure precise shot placement. Range finders provide hunters with accurate distance measurements to their target, allowing them to make informed decisions about shot placement.

This is critical for delivering humane and effective shots that minimize the suffering of the targeted animal. The use of range finders aligns with the principles of ethical hunting, promoting a quick and humane harvest.

Several Safari binoculars have precise range-finding capability by pressing a button.

The Pros and Cons of 8 x 42 versus 10 x42 and 10 x 50 Binoculars

8×42 Binoculars:


  1. Stability: Lower magnification (8x) provides a more stable image, making it easier to hold the binoculars steady, especially without a tripod. This is beneficial for extended periods of observation.
  2. Wider Field of View: Generally, 8x binoculars offer a wider field of view, making it easier to track moving subjects and observe a broader area at once.
  3. Brighter Image: 8×42 binoculars can be more forgiving in low-light conditions with a smaller objective lens than higher-magnified binoculars.


  1. Less Detail: Lower magnification safari binoculars mean you might have slightly less detail when observing distant subjects than using higher-magnified binoculars.

10×42 Binoculars:


  1. Increased Detail: The higher magnification safari binoculars (10x) provide more detail when observing distant objects, making these binoculars suitable for birdwatching and wildlife observation.
  2. Versatility: 10×42 binoculars strike a balance between detail and stability, making them versatile for various activities.


  1. Slightly Reduced Stability: Higher magnified binoculars can produce a shakier image if not supported by a steady hand, tripod, or other stabilization methods.

10×50 Binoculars:


  1. Increased Light Gathering: The larger 50mm objective lens allows more light to enter, making 10×50 binoculars ideal for low-light conditions, such as dawn or dusk.
  2. Enhanced Detail: Similar to 10×42 binoculars, 10×50 provides increased detail, making them suitable for detailed observations.


  1. Heavier and Bulkier: The larger objective lens makes 10×50 binoculars heavier and bulkier, which can be a consideration for those who prioritize portability and ease of handling.
  2. Potentially Reduced Field of View: Larger objective lenses might result in a slightly reduced field of view compared to 10×42 binoculars, impacting the ability to observe wide areas.

Our recommendation for an African Hunt Safari is 10 x 42.

Budget Considerations for Safari Binoculars

Like any piece of equipment, binoculars come in a wide range of price points. It’s essential to set a realistic budget based on your preferences and needs. While high-end binoculars may offer superior optics and additional features, there are excellent options available at more affordable prices.

Consider your level of commitment to birdwatching or wildlife observation and weigh the cost against the potential benefits of enhanced optical performance and durability.

The below is not a binoculars review but a guideline for cost for well-known brands.

High-End 10×42 Binocular Brands:

  1. Swarovski Optik:
    • Model: EL SwaroVision 10×42
    • Price Range: $2,500 – $3,000
  2. Leica:
    • Model: Leica Geovid HD-B 10×42
    • Price Range: $2,500 – $3,000
  3. Zeiss:
    • Model: Zeiss Victory SF 10×42
    • Price Range: $2,000 – $2,500

Mid-End 10×42 Binocular Brands:

  1. Vortex Optics:
    • Model: Vortex Viper HD 10×42
    • Price Range: $500 – $600
  2. Nikon:
    • Model: Nikon Monarch 7 10×42
    • Price Range: $450 – $500
  3. Bushnell:
    • Model: Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42
    • Price Range: $300 – $400

Low-End 10×42 Binocular Brands:

  1. Celestron:
    • Model: Celestron Nature DX 10×42
    • Price Range: $100 – $150
  2. Barska:
    • Model: Barska Blackhawk 10×42
    • Price Range: $80 – $100
  3. Bushnell:
    • Model: Bushnell H2O Waterproof/Fogproof 10×42
    • Price Range: $70 – $90

Binocular Brands that have range finding capability

1. Leica:

  • Model: Leica Geovid HD-B
  • Price Range: $2,500 – $3,000

2. Swarovski Optik:

  • Model: Swarovski EL Range
  • Price Range: $3,000 – $3,500

3. Zeiss:

  • Model: Zeiss Victory RF
  • Price Range: $3,000 – $3,500

4. Bushnell:

  • Model: Bushnell Fusion 1-Mile ARC
  • Price Range: $1,000 – $1,200

5. Vortex Optics:

  • Model: Vortex Fury HD 5000
  • Price Range: $1,200 – $1,500

6. Nikon:

  • Model: Nikon LaserForce Rangefinder Binocular
  • Price Range: $1,200 – $1,500

7. Sig Sauer:

  • Model: Sig Sauer KILO3000BDX
  • Price Range: $1,200 – $1,500

Diopter Adjustment

A diopter is a unit of measurement used to quantify the optical power of a lens, particularly in the context of adjusting the focus of binoculars or other optical devices. The adjustment associated with the diopter in binoculars is typically known as the diopter adjustment.

Diopter Adjustment:

  • The diopter adjustment on binoculars allows users to compensate for the differences in vision between their two eyes. Since people’s eyesight can vary, the diopter adjustment provides a way to fine-tune the focus of one barrel relative to the other, helping users achieve a clear and sharp image when looking through both eyepieces.

How Diopter Adjustments Are Made:

  1. Set the Central Focus: Start by adjusting the central focus wheel (located between the two barrels) to bring one side into focus while covering the other eyepiece with the lens cap.
  2. Close or Cover One Eye: Close one eye or use the lens cap to cover one of the eyepieces.
  3. Adjust the Diopter Ring: While looking through the open eyepiece, use the diopter adjustment ring (often located on one of the eyepieces) to fine-tune the focus for that eye. The goal is to make the image as sharp and clear as possible.
  4. Switch to the Other Eye: Repeat the process by opening the previously closed eye and closing the other one. Adjust the diopter again for the newly opened eye.
  5. Central Focus Refinement: After completing the diopter adjustments for both eyes, use the central focus wheel once more to fine-tune the overall focus for a clear and sharp image when looking through both eyepieces.

It’s important to note that the diopter adjustment is a personal setting and should be done by the individual user. Once set, it typically does not need frequent readjustment unless someone else uses the binoculars or if significant changes occur in the user’s eyesight.

Diopter adjustments enhance the usability of binoculars, especially for users with different vision prescriptions. This feature ensures that users can achieve optimal clarity and focus, providing a more comfortable and enjoyable viewing experience.

Roof Prism

In the context of binoculars, a roof prism is used to invert and revert the image, allowing for a more compact and straight-barrel design. Binoculars are optical devices that use prisms to rectify the inverted image created by the objective lenses. Two main types of systems are used in binoculars: roof prism and Porro prisms.

A roof prism system, also known as a Dach prism system (Dach being German for “roof”), employs prisms that are aligned in a straight line. This design results in a more streamlined and compact construction compared to the traditional Porro prism system. In roof prism binoculars, the eyepiece and objective lenses are in line with each other, contributing to a more slender and straight-barreled appearance.

There are two primary types of roof prism configurations used in binoculars:

  1. Schmidt-Pechan Prism: This type of roof prism system employs a combination of reflective and phase-correcting coatings to achieve image quality comparable to the Porro prism system. It is commonly used in high-quality roof prism binoculars.
  2. Roof Prism with Coating: This design uses a more straightforward roof prism without the added complexity of the Schmidt-Pechan system. The coating on the prisms is optimized to enhance light transmission and improve image brightness and clarity.

While roof prism binoculars offer a more streamlined design and are often more waterproof and dustproof due to their straight-barrel construction, they can be more complex to manufacture and align optically compared to Porro prism binoculars. High-quality roof prism binoculars, with advanced coatings and precision engineering, can rival the optical performance of Porro prism binoculars. However, they tend to be more expensive due to the manufacturing challenges associated with maintaining optical quality in a compact design.


Selecting the right binoculars for a safari can be challenging due to the many available options. In my opinion, Swarovski stands out for having the best glass, particularly noticeable in low-light conditions, though they come with a hefty price tag. Another excellent option is Leica, with fantastic glass quality and the added benefit of a lifetime warranty, albeit on the expensive side. Personally, I’ve used Leica binoculars for nearly two decades.

However, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly alternative without compromising too much on quality, I recently opted for Vortex Fury HD 5000 in 10×42. While their glass may not quite match up to Swarovski or Leica, it is still of high quality. What sets the Vortex Fury HD 5000 apart is its exceptional range finder, which I found to be the best I’ve used. This makes them an excellent choice for those interested in long-range shooting or hunting.

During my recent exploration, I had the chance to try out Leupold 10×42 high-definition binoculars. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the glass, especially considering their relatively more affordable price.

It’s worth noting that if your Professional Hunter is equipped with range-finding binoculars, you may prioritize having a good set of glass for observational purposes. Ultimately, the right choice depends on your specific needs, budget constraints, and personal preferences.

African Hunting Gear

Choosing a Rifle for Your African Safari – What African Safari Rifle should I Use for Hunting in Africa?

Choosing a rifle for your African Safari is crucial for a successful hunting experience. Factors such as the type of game you’re hunting, the terrain and weather conditions, and legal and logistical requirements can all impact your choice of firearm.

Let’s dive into these considerations to ensure that you’re well-prepared for the adventure of a lifetime.

Choosing a Rifle and Bullet for your African Safari – Type and Size of Game in Africa

The type of game you wish to hunt will significantly influence your firearm choice. The “Big Five” of the African game – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and rhinoceros – each require different firearms to ensure a humane and efficient kill. Here’s a quick breakdown of the recommended calibers for each big game:

  • Lion & Leopard: .375 H&H or larger
  • Elephant: .458 Winchester Magnum or larger
  • Buffalo: .375 H&H or larger
  • Rhinoceros: .416 Rigby or larger

For African plains game such as Antelope, wildebeest, and Zebra, a smaller caliber like the .270 Winchester or the popular .30-06 Springfield will suffice.

Sable antelope African hunting rifle selection.

Terrain and Weather Conditions – Hunters will be subjected to

The terrain and weather conditions of your hunting area will also impact your choice of firearm. Open plains call for a flat-shooting rifle with a longer range, such as the .300 Winchester Magnum. 

On the other hand, dense bush and mountainous terrain may necessitate a shorter, more maneuverable rifle for hunters like the legendary 375 H&H.

The 300 Winchester magnum is an excellent choice for kudu.

Before you pack your bags for your Africa Safari, research the legal and logistical requirements of transporting and importing firearms to your African safari destination. Some countries mandate specific permits and fees, while others may have restrictions on certain calibers or firearm types. 

Additionally, certain airlines may have rules and regulations for transporting guns and bullets, so check with your carrier beforehand.

Waterbuck shot on an African hunting trip

Availability and Cost of Ammunition

Ammo can be scarce and expensive in some African countries, so it’s essential to plan accordingly. Consider bringing extra ammunition or choosing a more readily available caliber in your destination. For example, the .375 H&H and .458 Winchester Magnum are popular African hunting rifle calibers and should be relatively easy to find.

375 is the minimum caliber of a firearm for Cape Buffalo.

Personal Preference and Comfort Level with Different Calibers

Lastly, your preference and comfort level with a firearm will significantly affect your decision to choose a rifle for your African safari. Factors such as recoil, weight, and accuracy should all be considered. If you’re unfamiliar with a particular caliber or firearm, spend some time at the range before your safari to get comfortable with your chosen hunting rifles.

Cape Eland requires careful choice of firearm.

The Versatility of the 300 Win Mag for African Hunting – One Shot Kills

If you’re planning a Plains game safari, you’ll need a rifle that can handle the variety of game hunting on the continent. The 300 Win Mag, short for Winchester Magnum, is a versatile and powerful caliber game rifle that excels in these situations. Known for its long-range accuracy and potent energy, the 300 Win Mag can take down everything from small game antelopes to the Cape Eland. 

For example, professional hunters often use the 300 Win Mag for safari hunting plains game such as kudu, eland, and wildebeest. 

However, the 375 bolt action is the minimum caliber for dangerous game and big game such as the Cape Buffalo. Shot placement is always essential while hunting in Africa.

Black Wildebeest shot with a 300 magnum.

Why a Tactical Scope Matters

In the unpredictable terrain and conditions of an African safari, a tactical scope can be a game-changer. Designed for long-range shots and variable conditions, these scopes allow you to adjust for windage, elevation, distance, and bullet drop. This means you can take more accurate shots at your quarry, even in challenging environments.

For instance, let’s say you’re targeting a distant kudu. With a tactical scope, you can quickly dial in the correct elevation and windage adjustments to compensate for the bullet drop and crosswinds. This will greatly increase your chances of making a clean, ethical shot on your quarry, ensuring a successful hunt.

Cape buffalo have a minimum rifle requirement.

Top 300 Win Mag Rifles and Tactical Scopes

Regarding choosing the right 300 Win Mag rifle and tactical scope, reliability, and affordability are key factors. Here are some top picks for both:

Rifles – Choosing Firearms for your African Safari

  • Remington Model 700: A classic bolt-action rifle known for its accuracy and dependability, the Model 700 is a favorite among hunters and has been used on countless African safaris.
  • Savage 110 Long Range Hunter: This rifle features a user-adjustable AccuTrigger and AccuStock for a customizable fit, making it an excellent choice for long-distance shooting.
  • Winchester Model 70: Often referred to as the “Rifleman’s Rifle,” the bolt action Model 70 has a legendary reputation for accuracy and reliability, making it a solid choice for any African safari.
Kudu hunting in Africa requires careful choice of rifle size.
Hunting kudu with a tactical scope is essential.

Tactical Scopes

  • Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II: A high-quality, versatile scope with a wide magnification range, the Razor HD Gen II offers excellent clarity and durability for long-range shooting.
  • Leupold VX-3i LRP: Known for its precise adjustments and rugged construction, the VX-3i LRP is a reliable choice for hunting in variable conditions.
  • NightForce NXS: With its advanced features and rugged build, the NXS is designed for long-range precision and is a favorite among professional hunters.
Plains game rifle for Africa.

In Summary – choosing a rifle for your African safari

When planning your African safari, the 300 Win Mag with a tactical scope is a great choice that will allow you to confidently and ethically take on a variety of game. With the right rifle and scope combination, you’ll be well-equipped to make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime hunting experience. So, go ahead and gear up with the best tools for the job, and happy hunting and have fun choosing a rifle for your big game African safari.

Sighting in your rifle for springbok hunting.

Sighting In Your Rifle and Scope Before Your Trip

One of the first steps to prepare for your African safari with your chosen firearm is to properly sight in your rifle and scope while still in your home country. This ensures that your shots are accurate and on target when it comes time to bag that trophy animal. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you sight in your rifle and scope:

Best African hunting rifle for sable antelope.
  1. Choose a suitable range and distance: Select a shooting range with a safe backstop and a distance that matches the expected shooting distance on your safari. Typically, 100 yards is a good starting point for sighting in a rifle.
  2. Set up your target: Place a high-contrast target at the desired distance, ensuring it’s level and stable.
  3. Secure your rifle: Use a stable shooting bench or platform and a solid rest, such as sandbags or a shooting rest, to ensure your rifle is secure and steady.
  4. Align your scope: Look through the scope and center the crosshairs on the target. Make sure the scope is level and adjusted adequately for parallax.
  5. Fire a group of shots: Shoot a group of three to five shots at the target, taking your time and focusing on proper shooting technique.
  6. Check your group: Examine your target to see where your shots landed. If necessary, make adjustments to your scope’s windage and elevation settings to bring your group closer to the center of the target.
  7. Repeat the process: Continue firing groups of shots and making adjustments until your shots are consistently landing near the center of the target.
Warthog hunting requires excellent accuracy.

Practicing All Your Shooting Skills and Accuracy

Once your rifle and scope are properly sighted in, practicing your rifle shooting skills and accuracy regularly before your safari is essential. Here are some tips to help you improve your shooting:

  • Dry fire practice: Dry firing is an excellent way to work on trigger control, sight alignment, and follow-through without the cost of live ammunition. Ensure your firearm is unloaded and always practice safe gun handling.
  • Shoot from various positions: Practice shooting from different positions, such as standing, sitting, and prone, as well as from shooting sticks or other improvised rests. This will help you become more comfortable and accurate when taking shots in the field.
  • Focus on your breathing: Proper breath control is crucial for accurate shooting. Practice taking slow, deep breaths and exhaling completely before gently squeezing the trigger.
Impala hunting with a rifle transported from USA.

Packing and Transporting Your Gun Safely and Securely

When traveling to Africa from the United States for a safari, packing and transporting your firearm and cartridges safely and securely is essential. Follow these tips to ensure your firearm arrives undamaged and ready for use:

  • Invest in a high-quality, hard-sided gun case: A sturdy gun case with foam padding will protect your firearm from damage during transit.
  • Use TSA-approved locks: Lock your gun case with TSA-approved locks to prevent unauthorized access while still allowing TSA agents to inspect the case if necessary.
  • Research airline regulations: Different airlines have different requirements for transporting firearms, so be sure to check with your chosen carrier beforehand to avoid any issues at the airport.
  • Declare your firearm: When checking in for your flight, declare your firearm to the airline and follow their specific procedures for checking firearms as baggage.
Choosing a rifle for your African safari.

Maintaining and Cleaning Your Firearm During Your Safari

Proper firearm maintenance is crucial during your African safari, as the harsh environment can quickly take a toll on your gun. To keep your firearm and feed in top shape, follow these tips:

  • Clean your firearm regularly: Give your gun a thorough cleaning after each day in the field, paying special attention to the bore and action.
  • Use a bore snake or cleaning rod: To clean the bore, use a bore snake or cleaning rod with the appropriate brush, patch, and cleaning solvent for your caliber.
  • Protect against rust: Apply a light coat of oil or rust-preventative to all metal surfaces to protect against rust and corrosion.
  • Store your firearm properly: When not in use, store your firearm in a dry, well-ventilated area, preferably with a silicone-treated gun sock or similar protective cover.
Shooting a rifle is vital.

Dealing with Potential Issues or Malfunctions

Even with proper care and maintenance, your safari rifles can sometimes malfunction. Be prepared to deal with any potential issues by following these tips:

  • Familiarize yourself with common malfunctions: Learn how to identify and clear common firearm malfunctions, such as stovepipes, double feeds, and failure to feed or eject.
  • Carry a basic gunsmithing toolkit: Pack a small toolkit with essential gunsmithing tools, such as a multi-tool, cleaning rod, and spare parts for your specific firearm.
  • Seek professional help if necessary: If you encounter a malfunction that you cannot resolve on your own, seek assistance from a professional gunsmith or guide.

By following these tips and preparing correctly, you can ensure that your African safari experience is a safe, successful, and enjoyable one with your chosen firearm.

Bolt action rifles are used for hunting in Africa.

Conclusion – choosing a rifle for your African safari

Choosing the right firearm for your African safari is a crucial decision that can make or break your hunting experience. You need to consider various factors, such as the type and size of game you want to hunt, the terrain and weather conditions you will encounter, the legal and logistical requirements of transporting and importing firearms to Africa, the availability and cost of ammunition in Africa, and your personal preference and comfort level with different firearms.

Caracal shot using a long-range rifle.

There are pros and cons of different firearm types for your African safari, such as bolt-action rifles, double rifles, single-shot rifles, lever-action rifles, and semi-automatic rifles. However, one of the best choices for your African safari is the 300 Win Mag with a tactical scope. 

The 300 Win Mag is a versatile and powerful caliber that can handle different types of game, from antelope to elephant. The tactical scope is useful for longer shots and variable conditions, as it can help you adjust for windage, elevation, distance, and bullet drop. There are many reliable and affordable models and brands of 300 Win Mag rifles and tactical scopes that you can choose from.

Choosing a rifle for an African hunting safari.

To prepare for your African safari with your chosen firearm, you need to properly sight in your rifle and scope before your trip, practice your shooting skills and accuracy with your chosen firearm, pack and transport your firearm safely and securely to Africa, maintain and clean your firearm during your safari, and deal with any potential issues or malfunctions with your firearm.

If you want an unforgettable African safari experience with a professional and experienced outfitter, you should book your trip with Nick Bowker Hunting. Nick Bowker Hunting offers high-quality hunting packages for plains and dangerous games in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province.

Maintaining your firearm for fallow Deer hunting.

You will enjoy comfortable accommodations, delicious food, stunning scenery, and abundant wildlife. Nick Bowker Hunting will also assist you with all the necessary arrangements for your firearm importation and transportation. 

You will have the opportunity to hunt with Nick Bowker himself, who is a licensed professional hunter and a passionate conservationist. Nick Bowker Hunting will ensure that you have a safe, ethical, and enjoyable African safari with your chosen firearm. 

Contact Nick Bowker Hunting today to book your dream African safari! Safe travel.

Cape Eland requires careful choice of firearm.
African Hunting Gear

Using African Shooting Sticks

African hunting shooting sticks are universal in Africa. This is because most hunting in Africa is from a standing position. This article combines information on African shooting sticks and the client’s recent experience as a first-time user of African shooting sticks.

We are currently using Rudolph quad sticks for our African shooting sticks. The quad sticks give significantly more stability and facilitate far longer shots. The preferred style of Rudolph is the one with a flat forearm, allowing a little extra opportunity to move the rifle without having to move the sticks completely.

Quad Sticks can be purchased for $129, and we recommend buying some and practicing a lot with them. The quad sticks take some getting used to and, in particular, do not lend themselves to solo hunting. But remember, in Africa; your guide will be carrying the African shooting sticks and placing them for you. Set out below is a quick recap about shooting sticks in Africa.

Hunting with African Shooting Sticks

Shooting sticks are often new for the first-time African hunter.

A three-legged shooting stick is a tripod to rest your rifle for support while taking a standing shot. Prone, sitting, and kneeling shots are not that common. Because of:

  • The low vegetation obscures your target.
  • Lying in a prone position or kneeling can be very uncomfortable. Also, it may not be possible because of rocky terrain, thorns, and other impediments.
  • Furthermore, shots in Africa often need to be taken relatively quickly. Consequently, shooting sticks and a standing position facilitate this.
A client using African shooting sticks

How do African shooting sticks work in practice, and how should I prepare?

  • The Professional hunter will carry the sticks or tripod for the first-time African hunter. He will walk in front, followed by the tracker and the hunter.
  • The professional hunter will place the African shooting sticks for the hunter when the moment arrives.
  • The hunter will then place his rifle across the shooting sticks, and the professional hunter will move over to the side.
  • Historically the African shooting sticks were homemade by the Professional hunter.
  • These days shooting sticks are readily available, durable, and light, often made of titanium.
  • Many materials are available on the correct methodology for using shooting sticks on YouTube. The right way is probably the one that works best for you.
  • Buy some shooting sticks. PRACTISE A LOT WITH SHOOTING STICKS.

Client Hunting experience with African Shooting Sticks

Flights and COVID-19 testing

I just got home yesterday (Friday, April 30) from my first South African hunting trip with Nick Bowker, Hunting South Africa, and I had an excellent trip.

This trip was initially slated for July 2020, and I fitted the hunt this year despite the uncertainty of traveling with Covid 19 issues.

I am happy to report that it was not difficult to have the RT-PCR test conducted before traveling and before I returned from South Africa.

More details are a little further in this report. I’ll do a continuing commentary on a day-by-day happening. 

I flew British Airways from Cincinnati to Washington, DC, on a Saturday, then flew Ethiopian on the following Sunday to Addis Ababa, then on to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Monday evening was spent at Journeys in Africa; then I flew to Port Elizabeth, SA, on Tuesday morning, where I was met by my PH, Ben, and driven to Olivefountain Ranch, near Bedford (about a 2-hour trip).


I got to meet everyone at the ranch, sight the rifle I would be using, and go out looking over a small part of the ranch for a bit.

I had a very lovely two-room cottage with a big, comfortable bed and a massive bathroom for accommodations for my visit.

Evenings were spent with everyone over appetizers, then great dinners, drinks, and conversation. I enjoyed Castle Lite and SA red wines. And no TV for almost two weeks was a big plus!

Rob Bowker had arrived the evening before and offered to be the Land Cruiser driver and help with spotting. This was a big plus.

My hunting accommodation with Nick Bowker

Impala hunt

Day 2 was my first full day at Olivefountain, and Impala ended up as the first animal of my eight-animal safari (Impala, Kudu, Nyala, Black Wildebeest, Springbuck, Warthog, Blesbuck, and Mountain Reedbuck).

Ben set us off on a stalk along a scrubby hillside for impala. Several rams were visible, but not what he wanted to find. I was able to see these animals up pretty close.

I followed Ben across a hillside, trying to be quiet. We moved to another area with a thicker cover, and several more impala were spotted, and a stalk was set up. I realized more exercise should have been in my pre-hunt plans.

A young impala ram stepped out between the intended group of older rams and us. He stared at us for at least ten minutes before we could move around him. I thought for sure this would be the end of our stalk.

The group would appear and then move behind other acacia trees. We had to keep cutting around trees and keep an eye on the young ram.

Finally, we had a window to look over the older rams, and Ben told me which one I should take. A porcupine popped out in front of us and ran past. Fortunately not giving us away (but great to see one).

My First African Trophy

The rifle went up on the African shooting sticks. Man, I was nervous and tried to settle down for the shot. I fired, and the ram was hit and ran off in poor shape. I fired a second round to no effect, and he fled into the brush. Ben assured me he was hard hit and wouldn’t travel far.

Lots of blood to track. Black Jack, the terrier, and one of the beagles were let loose, and the impala was found quickly.

I was thrilled to have my first African game (it was surreal, honestly) after shooting white-tailed deer for nearly all of my big game hunting experiences.

Impala hunt using African shooting sticks.

Using African Quad Shooting Sticks

This is probably a good spot to mention what equipment I was able to use on my trip, as I didn’t bring a rifle of my own (I didn’t want the hassle with it, and the use of an outfitter rifle and ammo as part of the hunting package was pretty appealing).

Nick provided a Sako 85 chambered in 300 Winchester Magnum with a Swarovski dS 5-25x52P range-finding scope. Handloaded rounds were Hornady 180-grain ELD-X bullets.

A big plus was having a suppressor, which took away the recoil and report; I loved shooting this rifle.

The African shooting sticks were Rudolph quad sticks, which I didn’t like to start with.

Still, after some serious and helpful constructive criticism on my shooting stance and shooting techniques by Ben and Rob, it got me shooting at distances I would not have thought possible.

My average shooting distances on white-tailed deer in Kentucky are well under 100 yards, so this was new territory for me.

It’s probably helpful for your PH to know all this in advance; a dumb error on my part.

I brought my Zeiss Victory T-fl 8×32 binos; good for birdwatching here in the US but lacking for looking at the big game at a long distance; 10x is much better. I’ll be better prepared next time.

Client using quad shooting sticks

Mountain Reedbuck hunt

Later in the afternoon, we were after Mountain Reedbuck, of which I saw plenty on the ranch. We had several big thunderstorms to work around after locating a ram with several ewes. A stalk was made, but the little cover was to be had in a large field; the group leaped to the hooves and ran off but stopped several hundred yards away.

I tried a shot, but it ended up as a poor hit; I missed the second shot, and off he ran. Searched until it was too dark to see. I was disappointed not to locate the ram that evening and the following day. Pretty bummed about my shooting. It was tough not to think about. I should have passed on that shot.

Nyala hunt

After searching the next morning for the reedbuck, later in the 2nd day went searching for a Nyala – this was an animal I truly wanted to hunt (as well as Kudu). We traveled to the top of an escarpment overlooking an enormous floodplain that had a lot of trees and shrubs, as well as open grassy areas.

We had a baboon sentinel barking at us for quite a while until we moved out of sight on the hillside. Lots of kudu and nyala cows were moving around to view. Suddenly, four Nyala bulls emerged in a large, dense thicket with openings.

Several cows ran to this group, and some posturing with the bulls started. The biggest bull stepped into the open, and I was told to take him. The first shot struck high in the spine, and when he was down, another shot was put into him.

Beautiful animal to take home! I was excited to see and get my Nyala. Very scenic area to be able to hunt. We visited this valley later for another client’s Kudu.

Nyala trophy hunted with Nick Bowker off African Quad shooting sticks.

Kudu Hunt

After hunting the Nyala, an opportunity to hunt a property further away came up for Kudu (a large cattle and sheep ranch north of Bedford) through an acquaintance of Ben. So we hit the road at about 4.30 am (a 2-hour drive) near the Winterberg Mountains (I think) at a higher altitude. Kyle Brown (property owned by Kenny Brown) accompanied Rob, Ben, and me with several trackers.

We had a bit of fog, so we waited to clear before moving off to view down into grassy and tree-covered valleys. We located a young Kudu bull with a cow but not much else, so we moved some distance away to another sizeable grassy plain.

An absolute stud of a Kudu was seen chasing a cow a long way off, and a stalk was planned and begun. I’m not sure how far, but when South Africans start walking, they cover the ground. I made a big loop to come in behind this Kudu. Snuck through a few cattle, which ignored us thankfully, and began approaching a thicket where the Kudu had been seen earlier.

This was very slow and painstaking at this point. A kudu was in front of us, but it wasn’t the larger bull. We watched for a bit and started moving forward when suddenly (of course), a young kudu bull resting behind a bush stood up 50 yards in front of us and gave us the stinkeye. We waited, but the stalk was blown, and off he ran, as well as any other kudu nearby.

Using African shootings sticks with Nick Bowker Hunting

Afternoon Kudu Hunting

After this event, we took a quick lunch break and went off to another section of the ranch where we could walk the ravine edges and view the bottoms. I immediately started seeing kudu cows on the far side of the valley, and kudu bulls started chasing them further down to a wooded section. There was Kudu everywhere!

Pretty exciting to see. I watched two bulls start sparring, and they went at each other. A large bull began walking up the far side (450 yards away), but I was not confident of a good shot on that animal. We eventually moved off the hillside. I got my tutorial on properly using the quad shooting sticks with the Sako and felt much better, practicing some dry fire shots.

It was pretty warm at that point, and it was not easy walking, rocks upon rocks, and my feet were sore. We drove back to where we had seen the big Kudu bull on the grassy plain earlier in the day to scope the surrounding area.

My First Kudu

Ben and Rob had walked away from the truck to look at that area (I was still by the truck) when in the distance, there was a windmilling arm belonging to Ben urging us to meet them 200 yards distant. Trying to cover 200 yards quietly and quickly was not easy!

Sticks were already up, and I threw the rifle on them, and Ben was trying to tell me where the Kudu was, and I arrived out of breath. I wasn’t seeing it (because it was much farther away than I realized).

A curse came from Ben, and Rob grabbed me and the African shooting sticks, dragged me several feet left, and whispered where the Kudu was after moving farther away….these guys were calling out the distance to shoot.

I laid the crosshairs of the Sako 300 win mag reticle on the Kudu. I hit the rangefinding button on the scope…479 yards…a whisper in my left ear, “if you’re not comfortable, don’t shoot, we’ll find another,” but I don’t know what you call it (Zen?).

Still, that bull was broadside, a soft glow of the setting sun behind it, and something clicked in my head; I brought the adjusted crosshair up the foreleg, and suddenly the trigger broke clean.

Lost the animal in the scope and heard Rob say. “He’s hit – and down!”.

What a relief

Ben took off running with two trackers to ensure all was good, and the shakes started.

That was the longest walk of my life, seemingly taking forever, with some backslapping and many handshakes.

Massive and magnificent animal! Many pics were taken, and thank the Lord. The Land Cruiser could be driven up to it.

The ELD-X bullet went through the leg, through the heart, and was just beneath the skin on the offside shoulder. We returned to the farmhouse to drop Kyle off and show his father.

I enjoyed a celebratory Castle Lite or two and headed back to Olivefountain. It was the longest 2-hour drive ever!

We met everyone when we got back, and more celebration with dinner, beer, wine, and Gentleman Jack. I slept like a dead man that night (but a delighted one).

My first kudu trophy in Africa off African Shooting sticks.

Duiker and Steenbok sightings

Following the Kudu adventure, I felt rough from a long day, had good drinks, and was somewhat dehydrated.

Today we would look for a good warthog in the morning and see what could be found. Very foggy this morning. No big rush to get out and view the hillsides.

There was a nice solitary Springbuck ram that frequented the head of a valley not far away from the lodge we visited first. We started a stalk but were busted quickly as soon as we saw him. He was off for the races.

Springbuck is everywhere on this ranch.

The fog started lifting in the valleys, so we headed lower to scan the valleys. Saw a nice Common Duiker, but it wasn’t on my list (some regret later, there were numerous duiker and steenbuck sightings every day on the ranch, and I didn’t consider them earlier).  

A neat critter was found two on the road-the Karoo earthworm. 3-4 feet long!

Earthworm we encountered while hunting.

African shooting sticks and Warthog Hunt

After the earthworm encounter, we found an excellent hillside to view from. I’m amazed at how similar the topography is to southeastern Arizona. We saw a flock of helmeted guineafowl first, next, a sow warthog with several piglets. Warthog is here in good numbers.

Ben explained that good boars are always a target species, and I saw several big boars throughout my stay. Scanning the hillside with our binos, suddenly, a giant boar ambled out of the brush in a clearing. I couldn’t tell how good the tusks were, but I could see them pretty well.

Ben thought we should pursue this one, so we moved down our hillside but were stymied by a thick band of trees and brush below us-the odds that other warthogs would be in there and we’d spook them were pretty high. Over 300 yards away.

He put the African shooting sticks up and asked me if I felt confident with the shot after the previous day with my Kudu. I felt very confident. The rifle went up, the hog was broadside, checked the range, and let the Sako loose. He ran 20 yards and rolled over, kicking. It sounded like a watermelon being thumped.

We threaded through the brush and soon were next to him. I’ll admit warthog was not a big “get” for me, but after seeing him up close was happy I got him. They are odd animals. I think warthogs say “Africa” much or more than most animals. Another super animal!

Warthog shot off african shooting sticks.

Blesbok Hunting Area

The afternoon was leisurely spent looking for an older Springbuck closer to home or another Mountain Reedbuck, but nothing suitable for a stalk. We saw a big Waterbuck keeping company with a cow on the other hunter-in-camps list. It was too late for him to make a stalk until the next day.

I tried to identify a few birds (I saw a couple of Pale Chanting Goshawks being mobbed by Lapwings) and lots of LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) flying around. Blue Cranes must like this habitat as we’ve seen several and would see many more. Their calls sound identical to our Sandhill Cranes here in the US.

The next day (starting to lose track now since every day was a new experience), we were going to Nick’s father’s sheep ranch located west of his ranch. This area was expansive grasslands with gently rolling hills, many termite/ant mounds, and very few trees or shrubs.

Lots of springbuck and blesbuck here. We drove through numerous gates to get to areas to hunt Blesbuck. I had been told these antelope were very wary. Shots would need to be made at longer distances with no cover on stalking approaches. The Land Cruiser was parked below the ridge crest, and Ben and I headed forth with rifles and sticks in hand.

Scanning the grasslands, we spotted two older white bulls, which Ben determined would be good first choices to put a stalk on. The first one was not having it and paced off out of range and stood watching us.

White blesbok shot using quad shooting.

White Blesbok Hunt & African shooting sticks

The second bull had run off behind a dam embankment, and we had lost sight of him. As we walked downslope to look at other rams scattered over the grasslands, he appeared, headed toward the first bull, 300 yards out parallel to us. Ben had the sticks ready quickly, and we watched as he trotted, then slowed, then trotted again,

Finally, he paused with a quartering on the shot, and the Sako spoke, bullet punched through, short-run and down. These are very muscular antelope. Ben mentioned that a less-than-optimal strike on one would result in a long chase. These look more goat-like than any other antelope I looked at up close.

The Blesbuck was field-dressed after photos were taken. We headed in the cruiser towards the top of a ridge to see what might be in the next grassy expanse when Ben pointed out the head of a snake above the grass, which was a Boomslang, we jumped out for a better look, but it retreated into a large clump of grass.

A little further on, we found a giant Leopard Tortoise. Pic attached. I hoped to see one of these, a lovely find! I tried a shot on a Common Blesbuck at 400+ yards at the crest but shot under. We watched a group of Blesbuck and could not find a wounding strike. We returned to Olivefountain for lunch and a break to return later in the afternoon.

Common Blesbok Hunt

After lunch and a relaxing break, we headed back to Nick’s father’s ranch for the afternoon to look for a Common Blesbuck. Typically the temps would be a little warm (no jackets needed) by early afternoon and then begin cooling off into enjoyable and dry conditions.

I had brought plenty of thermal undergarments and never wore any. April temperatures make for a beautiful month in this area.

The afternoon hunt was going to be a long stalk, as we did not see what was wanted for a Blesbuck, and we left the Land Cruiser far behind and started hiking up a long, gentle grassy slope to the horizon.

A blesbuck was sky-lit in the distance but not in a proper shooting position, and it ran off as we grew closer.

Once we reached the top of the rise, we startled a herd of sheep, which thundered off but surprisingly did not upset any blesbuck.

We could see multiple heads bobbing at each other over the rise, a big problem. There wasn’t any cover over knee-high.

Tortise encountered while hunting.

Common Blesbok Stalk

I stayed directly behind Ben as we moved into the wind (always). We were in plain view with almost a semi-circle of Blesbuck and more sheep around us.

Off to our right were a Common and a White Blesbuck about 300 yards away. Walking towards us, grazing as they walked.

A small group of sheep began closing a gap behind the Blesbuck, so the decision was made to set up for a shot before they got too close.

I was waiting for the Common to stop lifting his head for a chest shot, but he never stopped grazing and walking.

I hit him in the neck before the shoulders and dropped at the shot—a beautiful animal, even with the Satan horns. Ben walked back to bring the truck.

I sat and enjoyed looking over the Blesbuck and enjoying the quiet.

Incredible not to hear any human-made noises out here. After pics and loading the Blesbuck, we looked briefly at the many springbok and returned to the lodge for another beautiful evening around the braai.

Common blesbok trophy on quad sticks.

Black Wildebeest

This was when I started thinking about the end of my safari. Just a couple of animals left to hunt. The days seemed to transition smoothly from one day to the next. I liked that. Since I had originally started looking into an African safari, the last two years had not been great (except for the birth of my first grandson); my Mom passed away suddenly right before Christmas 2018.

Covid happened, and we lost employees at work, so travel and workload became ridiculous; I was determined to have this trip work out no matter what! I thought about this trip every day.

Happy to be here but a little solemn over having it end. 8 hunting days were not enough!

Earlier, I had kidded Ben and Rob. It went something like them, stating, “today will be a nice day to go find a (insert animal name here).” And it nearly always happened that way. Well, today, it was finally going to be a Black Wildebeest.

We had seen one or two earlier. It is a comical animal, spinning and gyrating around for no apparent reason. I like the appearance of the sweeping horns out in front of the bases and the long, flowing whitetail.

African shooting sticks and Black Wildebeest Hunt

We traveled nearby to a neighboring farm, which was very open grassland studded with termite mounds. Not long into our travel, a group of wildebeest was spotted a good distance away, watching us.

Sticks came out with the rifle, and we began moving towards the small herd, which appeared to be a bull with several cows.

They grew increasingly active as we began our approach, spinning around a bit. The cows seemed ready to vacate the area, but not the bull. I’d see why shortly.

We probably made it within 400 yards, and the group of cows ran off but still watched while the bull faced us head-on, occasionally pacing off and returning to the same spot.

It didn’t look like he was going to offer a broadside shot, so, at 375 yards, we put the rifle on the sticks, and as he held still, watching us, he pulled the trigger, and he was down in an instant.

After another long walk to see him up close, we found a big Mountain Tortoise on our way there. I was very pleased to see both of these animals up close. 

Bull wildebeest have a spot in their territory where cows visit them, not vice-versa. Because the ground was pawed clear of grass and piles of scattered dung all around this spot.

The horns are pretty impressive. These were pretty rough and scarred up. Another great animal!

Black Wildebeest trophy.

Mountain Reedbuck Hunt

I also got another opportunity to redeem myself on a Mountain Reedbuck later in the day after the Black Wildebeest was brought back for skinning; we traveled to a hilly, rocky area with shrubs and mixed grasses, where a ram and ewe reedbuck were soon spotted (and they spotted us), running down the hillside before the sticks could be put up.

We moved downslope to try to locate them, not seeing them, when they leaped out of a dip in the land before us and ran downhill further, but this time stopped to look back; the first shot hit low, not fatal, but the follow-up shot was good, and the ram was down. The fluffy white tail reminds me of a cottontail rabbit as they run away. Pretty and delicate antelope, another nice trophy.

Mountain Reedbuck shot using quad sticks

Birding while hunting

Besides wanting to hunt and see all of the spectacular antelope (plus warthog), I had high hopes to see lots of other wildlife, smaller stuff, birds, reptiles, all of it. On arrival day, after a brief rain, many winged termites began emerging, fluttering around.

We got to see an aardwolf running around in a field, catching them as dusk was approaching; we saw another on the gravel road back to camp another night.

I saw plenty of yellow mongooses, a pair of bat-eared foxes, and a banded mongoose (plus the porcupine when hunting the impala). Rock Hyraxes were commonly seen. I would have liked to have seen an aardvark, many hollowed-out termite mounds, and dug-out burrows. I liked seeing the Boomslang and the two tortoises, but I would have also enjoyed seeing a puff adder and Cape Cobra. 

Birding was good, with lots of Blue Cranes around; we saw 4 Secretary Birds where we hunted the Blesbuck, having a territorial fight, then an odd mating ritual (a pair would race side by side for a hundred yards or more, turn, the male would leap onto the females back, then off, then race off with wings outspread back to where they started…just guessing on the mating part.

Saw Kori Bustard (2), a group of Crested Kouran (I believe), and lots of Ant-eating Chats on termite mounds. Rock Kestrels were common, and very nice to have Fiery-winged Nightjars singing by our braai nearly every night.

We would hear Black-backed Jackals in the mornings and black-headed orioles around the house with Acacia Barbets and African Hoopoes.

Saw plenty of Glossy Starlings. What a beautiful bird in the sun, looking like it was plated in blue chrome, with bright red eyes.

Springbok Hunting Area

Later in the afternoon, we went out looking for a nice ram Springbuck. The weather is calm and cooling off, starting to become somewhat overcast. We drove a bit and began glassing large grassy fields dotted with termite mounds. Well, Ben and Rob did, my 8x binos not being much help.

There were large draws that you could easily miss animals, so driving to all points was helpful. We ended up in an area where the land flattened out below a large and long ridge, with lots of common springbucks, and saw white, black, and copper springbuck. Common was on my list, and I wanted real South African national animals. We just started walking to see what was out and about.  

Seemingly every animal had a comfort level, and at 500 yards, they became very alert. At around 400 yards out, they started moving. We tried angling towards a good candidate, but off he went. The next one was a little more cooperative. We angled left but maintained the same distance, over 400 yards.

African shooting sticks and the Springbok Hunt

I tried the rifle on the sticks and constantly kept shifting the sticks. The ram would walk and pause briefly. As soon as I began to get set, he was on the move again. Finally, we decided to stop to see what the ram would do next.

His little jaunts became shorter, and he would pause quarter-facing on, finally anticipating him stopping and left fly the bullet. I think I accidentally ranged a termite mound in front of him, as Ben had him at over 400 yards while I had him at 340 yards. The bullet struck a little low, but after a short run, the ram was done. 

I’ve seen videos where they talk about the smell of a Springbucks back, I tried it, and it reminded me of toasted marshmallows. Beautiful animal. I enjoyed seeing groups of them racing around all week. Last animal… the trip is done. Happy but a little bummed out. And a nice sunset.

Springbok hunting off shooting sticks

Covid Test

On my last full day, I rode around as an observer/spotter for a father/daughter group hunting at Olivefountain, which was fun watching others stalk their game.

We watched a long and successful stalk on a kudu bull, springbuck, and some blesbuck culls.

Early that morning, I had to go to Grahamstown, about a 45-minute drive, to have my Covid RT-PCR test done to fly home the next morning.

So we arrived as the clinic opened (8 am), had the test sample taken (the deep nasal one, I think I left finger impressions in the chair arms), Ampath Labs did the analysis, and we had it emailed 12 hours later so it could be printed out that evening.

The only point I had to show my Covid test results was when I arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. From what I remember, I didn’t have to show them when I arrived in Chicago. So I flew from Port Elizabeth, SA, to Johannesburg, SA, filled out a Covid questionnaire to board my next flight to Ethiopia, then transited through Addis Ababa for the big leg to Chicago (a brief stop to refuel in Dublin, Ireland).

Clearing Customs in the United States

I had a Customs form and Covid questionnaire on the flight for Chicago, all that was requested to be turned in was the Customs declaration; I had a couple of questions regarding what I did in SA and was asked if I had any wildlife products (none), and that was it.

Going through the Covid testing process was not that difficult. I had easy access to get testing done near my home (plus a clinic at the Greater Cincinnati Airport with quick results) and easily done at Nick’s ranch.

I wish I had known how straightforward it would be. If that is what might be holding up your decision to go this year or next year, I would reconsider it.  
I had a very satisfying trip. I’ve already booked a cull hunt plus a couple of larger antelope to hunt for July 2022.

Everyone at the ranch was enjoyable to spend time with. I certainly felt at home. I already missed the meals and loved the daily cleaning and laundry service.

I have to do all those things here at home, so nice to have a break from that. Please get in touch with me by PM if you have any questions about my trip. Thanks for reading my report and for all the welcome compliments on my animals.

This review of Nick Bowker Hunting can be found on Africa Hunters.