Hunting with no fences or low fenced African hunting (meant to control sheep, not the wild game) was a priority. Nick’s hunting areas fit the bill. The numbers and variety of animals blew us away.
African Low fenced Hunting
This hunt was my first African hunt, but I’ve hunted with outfitters in the Midwest and the Western US. The outbreak of Corvid 19 made an extraordinary hunting trip surreal.
The world seemed to turn on its head during the 7 days we were in South Africa. Despite the fact COVID-19 was hanging over most of the hunt, I couldn’t be happier with how it all went.
The quick progressions of world events related to Covid-19 made the hunt a bit more surreal. We were not looking at our phones on purpose, but that didn’t last once we heard about the travel bans. Nick had clients start canceling because they couldn’t get to SA or faced a quarantine once they got home.
It was clearly a stressful time for both Nick and Benjamin, and while we could tell it was causing problems. They in no way let it impact our trip. We all did our best to have a great hunt despite the world seemingly grinding towards a halt.
We ended up leaving on schedule, two days before South Africa essentially closed its “airline” borders to foreign travelers. Our flight out of Johannesburg had 60+ open seats two days before we left. But it was loaded to the gills as people changed plans to get home once SA travel bans were announced.
Planning and Logistics
This trip was planned relatively last minute by my Fiancé as a 50th birthday present.
She contacted a few Outfitters. Nick responded quickly and indicated he had a recent cancellation the week we were looking at.
We tossed a few hunting ideas around before settling on a package. The package included a Nyala, Impala, Kudu, Gemsbok, and Warthog for me. Since my fiancé wanted to be along on the hunts, we added a daily rate and Warthog for her.
We contacted Nick initially through BookYourHunt.com and used that as our primary communication source. We switched to using WhatsApp the day before our arrival.
Nick did a great job of keeping in touch and updated. In fact, he is the one that pointed out that South African airlines were having trouble. And suggested we might want to rebook on British Airways for the flight from JNB to Port Elizabeth.
Nick was standing outside the arrival doors when we got there, helped us with our bags, and then drove us to the lodge.
It was a great 2-hour drive, although it rained most of the way there. We were able to ask questions, understand the daily routine, and just get acquainted.
Nick was easy to talk to and didn’t seem the least bit bothered by getting peppered with questions by enthusiastic rookies!
Upon arrival, we met Benjamin, a PH that works with Nick.
Nick’s clients stay at his home, a sprawling group of separate and connected buildings. These include the main house, guest rooms, a cabin for 1-2 guests, a bar, braai/dinner area. As well as work sheds, and garages, staff quarters, etc.
We stayed in a separate cabin, which was amazing – small, rustic, and modern at the same time, and extremely comfortable. The bed was amazingly comfortable; there was a great walk-in shower, a huge tub, bathroom, and sink.
The house seems like it is an older farm/ranch house, with additions made to accommodate larger hunting parties.
Nick has WiFi that runs on power when it is on. (Sounds like consistent power in many parts of SA is tough to come by). When the power is off, Nick kicks on the generator.
The inconsistent power didn’t impact us at all. Nick made it relatively seamless with the generator. We loved the house and couldn’t have felt more comfortable.
Plus, we weren’t there to stay connected – we wanted the opposite. We were doing well with that until the news of COVID’s expansion started making it necessary for us to connect.
Nick has a great staff. The people preparing breakfast and cleaning the rooms were on top of it.
Our room was cleaned each time we left (in the morning and again in the afternoon), and our laundry was done every day. Nick’s hunting staff were also great.
Cheerful and helpful, they helped make each hunt better. Benjamin is also a great PH (more on that later) – easy to talk to, friendly, and always looking for ways to make your trip better.
As he often said while doing something for you, “Don’t worry about it, I’ll do it. You’re on holiday!”
Food and Routine
The food was incredible. There were always baked goods available, and we usually ate a muffin before heading out in the morning. We typically were back by 11 or 12 for brunch, which was also great.
Over the course of the 6 days of hunting, we had kudu sausage, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, hamburgers, fries, pork, and probably 5 other things. Dinners were made by a woman Nick has hired only to handle dinners, and she crushes it.
Every dinner consisted of appetizers, a main dish often cooked by Nick or Benjamin over the Braai, and dessert.
We ate lots of wild game, beef, and lamb, and there was always at least one perfect side dish, often South African favorites.
We drank beer and wine each night (Nick asked what we liked to drink before we arrived) and had a blast at dinner-time by the fire.
We opted to use Nick’s rifles rather than bring our own. A great choice in light of all the airline issues and COVID 19. As a result, we could also travel light (only carry-ons)
We shot from a bench and sticks. After I shot, I went out with Benjamin to look around/hunt while my fiancé stayed back to make sure she was comfortable shooting from the sticks.
Low fenced African Hunting Area
Nick hunts on his land, his family’s land, and some other big tracts with the hunting rights. There is a great variety of land, and we didn’t see all of it by any means.
Nick has a big sheep operation and runs the hunting on his property, so there are some low fences for the sheep.
Hunting where there were no fences or low fenced African hunting (meant to control sheep, not the wild game) was a priority.
Nick’s hunting areas fit the bill. The numbers and variety of animals blew us away.
Rather than discuss each hunt, I wanted to pull out some of the things that stood out to me. Nick and Benjamin were very selective. This being my first-time hunting in Africa, I was excited.
I like to shoot nice trophies, but not at the expense of a good hunt. I’d rather shoot an average trophy on a great hunt than a great trophy on an average hunt. Everyone is different, but for me, the hunt is important.
That said, Benjamin and Nick didn’t want to compromise on either. The Nyala hunt was in an area that was pretty easy to get to (first day). However, we worked hard for all of the other trophies in the low fenced African hunting area.
Nick and Benjamin did their best to ensure we got the best of both worlds.
Both Nick and Benjamin worked their butts off, making sure we got the animals we came for. My impala hunt was amazing.
Benjamin kept getting us close to a large ram, but something always messed it up. Hogs busting out of the bush, an unforeseen Mountain Reedbuck, and skittish Springbok.
We chased it back and forth across the valley. We could get in a position for a great shot, and it had no idea where we were.
Benjamin did a great job keeping us on the ram, and it was an amazing hunt.
I made a shot that wasn’t ideal on my kudu hunt. The animal wasn’t going anywhere, but it needed another shot. Wound up, I pulled the trigger for the second shot. There was that loud “click” that only comes from not having reloaded.
Benjamin recognized I wasn’t squeezing the trigger but yanking it back in my excitement. He perfectly said, “Squeeze the trigger…” – just what I needed not only at that moment, but it stayed with me for the rest of the trip.
We spent the last couple of days chasing Warthogs. It sounded like they were normally shot during the pursuit of something else; that was not our situation.
Given the huge amount of rain (drought-ending, apparently) that had been falling in the area we were hunting, the hogs didn’t need to move much at all to get food and water.
Plus, we were early, and the boars weren’t really pushing the sows. All of this made it so that getting a big Warthog was the most challenging part of the hunt.
They did not give up, despite the weather not wanting to cooperate. We pushed hard for hogs, and it resulted in a gnarly old boy for my fiancé and great pig for me.
Nick and Benjamin did a great job with her – they put her in a great position, and she made a great shot (I think she is better off the sticks than I am)
Final Hunt on our low fenced African Hunting Safari
The last hunt (for my hog) really put Nick and Benjamin’s hunting skills on display – we saw good pigs from at least a mile away and then started the hunt.
Given the weather (some rain, but cool and overcast) and that it was the last day of our hunt, the pursuit of this boar seemed to be the last pig chase we were going to get.
We had a good strong wind, which helped a ton, but we knew it would be tough given the distance we had to travel. We ran into duiker, rabbits, mountain reedbuck, and impala on the way.
Each time I thought we were screwed, but Nick and Benjamin played it perfectly, and we were able to thread the needle and catch up to the hogs.
After the boar was down, we all started laughing. None of us could believe we made it through all those eyes, ears, and noses that seemed to threaten the hunt constantly.
We laughed a ton. Both Nick and Benjamin are a lot of fun – by the end of the trip, it felt like hunting with old friends. To me, that only adds to the hunting experience and memories and is exactly what I’m looking for in this type of trip – great hosts, smart and talented guides, and good people.
Business Wrap Up and Departure
After the hog hunt, and before dinner last night, Nick and I wrapped up and settled the bill. This was a painless process, and he walked me through the bill – absolutely no surprises (other than my bank not authorizing purchases in SA like they said they did on the phone and email). But we got that sorted out, and Nick made it easy.
The next day our flight out of Port Elizabeth didn’t leave until 3:30 pm, so Nick offered to drive us through Addo on our way to the airport.
He was an amazing Park guide as well – we had a blast, and we’re very thankful for his generosity with his time—a great way to end the trip. Since we left, Nick has texted to make sure we made it back alright, check how we deal with COVID, and keep me updated on taxidermy stuff.
I’m already trying to figure out when I can get back and which friends I can talk into joining me. Nick Bowker gets my highest recommendation – for the reasons I’ve mentioned (and probably 50 other smaller reasons I haven’t), he is better than any Outfitter I’ve ever used.
I’m an adventurous person and love meeting new people – however, because this trip was made so incredible by Nick and his PH Benjamin, I doubt I’ll ever hunt with anyone else in South Africa. We had a great hunt with great people. What else can you ask for