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African Hunting

African Management and Trophy Hunt

Back from superb African management and trophy hunt trip with Nick Bowker. The start was 2019 when Nick posted a 20 animal cull hunt. My buddy and I booked for March 2020. Well, we all know what happened, so we went for 2021.

Thanks to our Prime Monster, traveling was too risky. Now, in 2022 we finally put it together. My self, Great Nephew, and buddy arrived on the 25th of May in Port Elizabeth, where Nick was waiting for us, and off to Bedford, we went for our African hunting safari.

We arrived at Nick’s home, a very British-style rambling 170 yr old home. Nick has put a lot of effort into upgrades and renovations. Beautiful, comfy accommodations with great views.

We unpacked and checked the rifles. Once everyone was happy, we went out for a little afternoon drive for orientation. The rest will follow!

So as we left Nick’s place, I was impressed with the number of animals. Very few high fences and amazing country. Open pastures to hills and valleys with heavy brush. As we came over one hill, we stopped to glass, and the 1st animal we spot is a large Sable. Not far away was another large Sable that was wide. As this had become an add-on Trophy for me, I immediately got interested.

First, hunt on our Management and Trophy Hunt.


Nick said let’s keep looking, as one of his PHs keeps seeing a large Bull hanging around one of the main herds. A little farther and we spot another large Sable. As we are glassing, Nick says damn. He has broken 3-4 inches off one side. As I already have an excellent Sable, I am more than impressed with this old warrior.


Nick offers me a discount, and the chase is on. Exit the Bakkie and work into position. I am shooting my 6.5-06 Custom I built. We finally get a decent shot at 275yds, he buckles and then comes running towards us.

I shoot again, and it is a hit but not much reaction. He stops, and I put the 3rd round in. He goes a short way and is down. Finishing shot and done. Old Bull shredded ear and battle scars. I couldn’t be happier at the start of our African management and trophy hunt.

Loaded and returned to Nicks for a refreshment, an excellent dinner, and a couple more refreshments. Not bad, considering our official hunt didn’t start till tomorrow.

Sable antelope management hunt with Nick Bowker.

About Nicks African Management and Trophy Package

So Nick’s 20 animal Cull package is five species- 4 of each Warthog, Springbok, Impala, Mountain Reed Buck, and Blesbok. 3 Culls of each and one trophy. The amount of animals is phenomenal, and Nick and crew make each trophy you take Proper. Todd and I were hunting two-on-1 with Nick for the 1st seven days until Nick’s Bakkie blew its brakes.

The only problem was his backup was a single Cab as his other double cab had an engagement with a Kudu the week before and was in the body shop. My great-nephew was on a seven animal Trophy package and hunting with his PH Nadine, a fine young lady from the area whose father is also a PH, and she is carrying on the family tradition. 30 yrs young but very skilled and a 9 yr Veteran as a PH. Call my great-nephew is a young Texan of 20 who grew up hunting and shares an outfitting Operation in the family.

20 Animal South African Management Hunt Package

1 Hunter $6000 2 Hunters $5000 each.

Eight days of hunting are all-inclusive for the following 20 animals. No day fee & inclusive of accommodation and meals

  • 4 Impala Rams
    (1 Trophy Ram)
  • 6Springbok Rams
    (1 Trophy Ram)
  • 4 Warthog Boars
    (1 Trophy Boar)
  • 2 Common Blesbok Rams
    (1 Trophy Ram)
  • 2 White Blesbok Rams
    (1 Trophy Ram)
  • 2 Mountain Reedbuck Rams
    (1 Trophy Ram)
  • Add any Kudu Bulls at $400 per cull
    (All Non-Trophy
    )
  • Add any Trophy Animals from our Trophy Fees Price List

I was happy as I wanted to spend some time with Call hunting. I brought him because he is one of the finest young men I know, and it was a privilege to share the trip with him. Memories to last us forever. So Nick asked Nadine if she would mind if I were added to her duties. No problem, so off we went.

Trophy Hunts

Call was down to a Gemsbok and a Zebra, which was an add-on. We went to another property near Bedford. A well-managed cattle ranch. The farm tracker hoped in, and off we went.

It constantly amazed me how these tracker/farmhands knew every little 2 track on the property. I had shot a Cull Fallow Deer stag here two days earlier. Lots of hills and beautiful brushy valleys.

As we approached the area we were to hunt, we bumped a herd of Fallow Deer. The amount of game was phenomenal. I could shoot one more as a Cull. Nadine suggested a stalk as they seemed not very spooked. I declined as I wanted Call to get his Gemsbok.

The Bakkie parked on top of a tall hill. Nadine and Call headed for the valleys. They hadn’t been gone 5 minutes when out of the bottom comes a nice Fallow Stag and stops at 40yds. I advised him he should move on as I can be tempted easily.

Springbok hunt with Nick Bowker.

Gemsbok Trophy Hunt

2.5 hrs later, we hear a shot followed by a call on the radio. I was to bring the Bakkie down as Call had his Gemsbok. We had no sooner crested the hill when a large herd of Gemsbok was calmly watching us. They had been within 4o hundred yds of the Bakkie all the time.

It took a while to get down to call Nadine. After a difficult stalk avoiding other animals and working the terrain, Call took a very old female with worn-down teeth, one shot at 90yds. Call was very cautious of his shots and was proud of his patience.

We were heading to the skinning shed when we spotted a herd of fallows. A short stalk, and I got a 225 yd shot. Hit a little back and not the best angle. No worries, as Nadine sent Flip her Jack Russel and had the Fallow bayed in no time. Finishing shot, and we were off to the skinning shed and back to the Lodge for lunch. Fabulous lunch of Kudu burgers and chips, a short nap, and we were off for my Trophy Impala.

Gemsbok management hunt.

Trophy Imapal Hunt

As we were heading to the property, we spotted a herd of Springbok. As we glassed, Nadine and Call both said there he is. Apparently, there was an excellent male that had outwitted them on three previous stalks.

After some stalking and careful locating, I was on the sticks. 256 Nadine says. One-shot, and the Springbok is mine. Beautiful animals. We carry on and start spotting Impala. 1st group doesn’t like our company.

Nadine says we need to get to the valley, where we have more cover. We start spotting Impala moving thru the brush, and a good Ram is located. We begin to stalk, but we constantly try to sort out which.

Nadine suggests we carry on down as they pass by us and see if they continue uphill. As we sneak down, I spot our Ram in the bush. I whisper to Nadine, and she says that’s him. One for me to beat the PH!

After he clears the tree, he turns full frontal at 100yds. One-shot off the sticks and we are headed back for the skinning shed, followed by several adult beverages, appy’s, and a great dinner of sirloin steak cooked to perfection by Nick. Another great day on the Eastern Cape on our African management and trophy hunt.

Impala hunting with Nick Bowker.

Kudu Trophy Hunt

Call’s main target animal was a Kudu. I believe it was the second day I had passed on the morning hunt. Jet lag and pre-trip work had me exhausted. Todd and Nick headed out, as did Call and Nadine. As Todd and Nick were spotting, they saw a great Cape Kudu on a steep brushy hillside.

Call, and Nadine went down the Cliff and steep hillside while Nick and Todd moved along the edge of the Cliff. The call was made as Nadine and Call were about 20 mins away. They hustled over, and the Kudu was still feeding. Nadine and Call made a stalk, and Call had to shoot at a steep downhill angle. At the shot, the Bull disappeared, but only several cows ran out.

The Kudu was spotted, and the location radioed to Call and Nadine. Call’s admiration and appreciation for this trophy were worth the whole trip. He thought if that was all he got, his trip would be complete. Boy, was he in for a surprise.

Kudu trophy hunt.

Zebra Trophy Hunt

The following morning Nadine, Call, and I headed out for his add on Zebra. Another ranch close to Bedford. Beautiful property and buildings were immaculate. They had also added a guest lodge for holidays and hiking clients.

Not sure how big this property was, but it was huge. Also held some monster Kudu! The 1st herd of Zebra we spotted had a lot of mares with young foals, so we left them alone. We picked up the property tracker and headed for the hills.

We found a second herd that had a good stallion. Off Call and Nadine went. These Zebra were spooky and took them down a valley, up a steep hill, back down a ravine, and onto a flat where Call finally got a full-frontal shot off the sticks at 175 yds. One-shot and DRT. Good job, young man. Beautiful Zebra with good markings. Loaded and headed back to the Lodge by 11:30 for lunch and nap.

Zebra trophy and management hunt.

African Management and Trophy hunt

After a nap, we left a little early for the afternoon hunt. With Call having completed his list, we were focused on finishing my Cull/Trophy list. I still had Warthog, Mtn Reedbuck, and Blessbok on my list. But we had seen some super Gemsbok, so away we went to add another trophy.

I got to the area close to Nick’s and found a herd immediately. In a bushy valley but were able to have a good look. Nadine said there is a huge Bull and some old trophy Cows. As soon as they spotted the Bakkie, they got nervous. I got out of sight and gave them time to calm down. I started a stalk but got spotted. Too far for a shot, and getting nervous.

Nadine said we need to back out as we don’t want to spook them. She said the Bull was huge, and she wanted to get him. Hmm, very focused PH=large trophy! Nadine said we could get ahead of them with the Bakkie. Well, almost they were already there. Back off again, but this time we get ahead of them. Start a stalk but get spotted again.

My Monster Gemsbok

By this time, Nadine had got me revved. I had already had the lecture on shot placement and how tough these animals can be. We don’t want to be tracking a wounded Gemsbok till dark. More revved, thanks.

Nadine suggests we go to the top of the hill as the Gemsbok will be coming out on a flat just over the hill where we can get a good look. The shot might have some distance but will have lots of time for a calm, well-placed shot. Off we go and stop at the top of the about 200 yds from the edge looking over the flat. Exit the Bakkie and grab the sticks. We don’t make 10 ft, and here comes Gemsbok on top of the hill.

We freeze, and they walk up in two groups. Look at the Bakkie and are not concerned. Nadine quickly spots the Bull and points him out to me. I am no Gemsbok pro, but I am a little concerned. He has very thick horns but is awfully long for a Bull. Nadine assures me it is a Bull.

42 inch gemsbok hunted with Nick Bowker.

42-inch Gemsbok

About 180yds but is in a group of 4 or 5. I am waiting for a clear shot. Finally, clear and broadside. One-shot. Solid hit. It makes a small circle and is broadside again. Nadine says shoot again at the same time, and my gun goes off. Drops right there.

I always get an adrenaline rush after shooting an animal and would quit if I didn’t, but I hadn’t had the shakes since I was 25 yrs old. I look over at Nadine; she is shaking as badly as I. Call is trying to film it too. We all start laughing at each other. Call says Uncle Graham, and I didn’t think you ever got that excited. After 10 mins of calming down, we go over to see our trophy. 42″ Bull and not as old as we thought. He was well into his prime but not old and in great shape.

Blesbok African Management and Trophy Hunt

This morning we head out to hunt Blesbok. We had seen several herds in the previous days, but man, were they spooky. We arrived with Todd and Nick in one Bakkie and Nadine, Call, and I in the other. The idea was to split up and set up for an ambush as the trackers moved them around. Five minutes later, we got a call from Nick to get our butts over to them as they had spotted a large Warthog, and I was the only one left without a trophy.

Nick’s knowledge of his properties is incredible. He had got in front of the Warty to cut him off. When he turned back, I was ready. He stopped for a moment, trying to decide which way to go. Quick shot and a solid hit, but he took off running and knowing how tuff these critters can be. I tried a running shot but only got a termite mound. In mid-stride, he just dropped. Proper Boar, as Nick would put it.

Warthog management and trophy hunt.

African Management and Trophy Hunt

We carried on for Blesbok. The plan was for Todd and Nick to set up in one spot for an ambush and Nadine and I in another. We set up by a pond, and our sniper’s nest was a bank that Warthogs had dug out. It seemed like a good plan, but nobody had told the Blesbok. As the trackers tried to move the Gemsbok, they did, and twice they were within range and too bunched up for me to take a shot. After 2 hrs, we called it a day and searched for some culls.

Nadine found me an Impala. This was my best distance shot at 458 yds. DRT. After lunch and a nap, we head out for more culls. We go thru the hills and find a group of 4 Mtn. ReedBok. Nadine says shoot that old female. 200yds but not the best angle; obvious hit but takes off over the hill. We looked for a while, and I said I don’t think it went this far. We start back to the start, and Nadine turns Flip loose downwind. 2 minutes and, Flip has found it. Very tall grass and hard to see. Thanks, Flip.

Management Hunt

Head for another area and glass from the hilltop, move down and glass, and when we reach the bottom, we spot 2 Warthogs as we glass to more come on the same opening but closer. We head out to stalk them. As we move closer, we spot a Duiker in a green patch of grass—nice Duiker and on my trophy list.

We work close to get a good look, and Nadine says let’s go back and check the Warty’s. As we start back, another Duiker comes out and is immediately chased by the 1st. Nadine says that was an excellent Ram, and was I willing to sneak around and forego the Warts for a bit. You bet, and slowly we move thru the flat from bush to tree to bush. As we both are about to clear a tree there, he is 50 yds and feeding,

We back up to the tree, and Nadine says can you shoot thru the bush. Bang, she jumped and said damn, you’re fast. I had made her jump, and she lost sight of the Ram. Did you hit it? I don’t know, but there is a little white patch in the grass where it was standing. Beautiful Duiker Ram. When we returned to the Bakkie, Call said we looked like we were drunk with all our back and forth and wobbling around. Off to the Lodge for appys, beverage, and supper. Life is tough here on the Eastern Cape!

Grey Duiker hunting.

African Management and Trophy Hunt

2nd last morning. I still have 2 Trophies on my Cull Hunt. Blesbok and Mtn Reed Buck. Off we go in search of Mtn. Reedbuck. The short drive behind Nick’s house, we spot an excellent Ram. Three hundred twenty-five yds, solid rest with the 6.5-06. 1st shot high, 2nd shot to the right, and 412 just over the top.

There was some wind but not that bad. I had the 06 riding in the back for the last few days as I wanted to use my 7×64 and make a bullet comparison. Maybe it got bumped; perhaps I was having a bad morning. I’ll figure it out when I get home. As we continue, we spot numerous groups of Reedbuck, but Nadine says no exceptional Rams.

Off to glass some distant hills. We spot a group in the valley that has an outstanding Ram. We get spotted, and they head for the open top of the mountain. Nadine says we are going to back out and come back after lunch as they will come back here to bed as this is their little valley. OK? As we approach the same area, they are all bedded in the same little valley. Back to the Lodge for lunch, nap, and then we head out early.

Mountain Reedbuck Hunt

We try a different approach and get to a spot where we can glass. Some are lying down, some are moving, and Nadine spots the Ram lying down behind a bush. She says we need to wait as he will get up and give us a clear shot versus trying to stalk them with too many eyes. We are watching and waiting when I catch movement out of the corner of my eye.

I swing over, and it’s another Ram. He runs 35yds and stops broadside. Nadine taps my shoulder and bang. DRT. She looks at me and says damn, your fast. Guess she’s never hunted coyotes in Alberta or Saskatchewan. He had been bedded 80yds from where we were glassing. Not sure if he was as big as the one we were watching, but he still went over 7″.

Drop him off at the skinning shed, and we head out for a cull of Springbok and Warthog. 10 mins later, a Cull Springbok runs out and stops at 125 yds. Last Springbok down on to find a Warty. The afternoon had turned windy and cool. Only saw 3 Wart’s off and running. I cruised around some more but did not see much. We headed back for the evening.

Mountain Reedbuck management and trophy hunt with Nick Bowker.

Last Day

Unfortunately, this is the last day. Todd, Nick, Nadine, and I head out for our Blesbok. We split up when we arrive. Trying to get up on the Blessbok is difficult. The wind is blowing, and they are spooky. Todd manages to snipe a Trophy as we move them around. I am on them several times, but either to grouped up or take off before I can get a shot. Finally, get a long shot well over 300 and make a bad shot. Spend another 20 mins before I get another distant shot that stops him. We move closer and a finishing shot. We keep going for my last Blessbok Cull, and I drop one at just under 400, which requires a finishing shot. Beautiful white female.

Warthog African Management and Trophy Hunt

Management hunt with Nick Bowker.r.

Todd got his cull, and we were off. I still had 2 Warthog Culls left. Nadine had said that morning when we left that it would not be a good Warthog day as it was cool, overcast, and windy. As we were driving back, we started to see Warty’s. The sun had come out, and it had warmed up a bit. We were driving thru open pastures, and every time we spotted Warthogs, they took off with no shot. We came to a little Valley that went for a mile or so. Nadine suggested we go for a walk as the Warthogs should be heading for a midday Siesta.

We had walked about 50 yds when we spotted a pig in the valley. As we glassed him he got into some brush and didn’t come out. A little farther and a Sow with piglets. Then another 100yds, and I said, Nadine. 175yds to our right, headed for the valley, was a big boar. Up went the sticks. As I got him in the scope, I noticed a large tusk. Damn trophy. Then he turned and had broken off his other tusk. I heard shoot. About 150 yds, one shot and done. Huge old Boar with scars and a calloused face with trophy warts as big as his ears. Loaded in the Bakkie and on the way back to the Lodge, we spot another group, and Nadine picks out a female and done in one. Back for lunch and the end of our African management and trophy hunt.

Contact me on Africa Hunting.

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African Hunting

African Plains Game Safari

An African plains game safari is something I always dreamt of. My name is Sol Griffith, and I run Diamond Z Outdoors. We are a small (but growing) organization dedicated to wildlife conservation, promoting fair-chase hunting, preservation, and care of public land, and introducing the sportsman way of life to new hunters

Trophy Kudu shot on a plains game safari

Growing up, I was an avid reader, and “Green Hills of Africa” by Ernest Hemingway and “African Game Trails” By Theodore Roosevelt was always my first choice. I read both ten times each. I had a deep passion for hunting in Africa from an early age, and hunting the Dark Continent has always been a dream.

Trophy Impala shot on a plains game safari
Kudu Hunt in South Africa | Nick Bowker Hunting

Video from our Hunt in Africa

When are you planning your African Plains Game Safari?

This last fall, I finally finally had the opportunity to make that dream a reality and booked an African plains game safari with Nick Bowker Hunting in South Africa.

chose to hunt with Nick because, first and foremost, he runs a low-fence, free-range operation with no captive-bred or planted animals.

The second reason was due to the hunting value—7 animals for an unbeatable price. 

Nick was great to work with and very understanding as we ran into some difficulties with getting dates worked out, but it all came together.

My wife shot a beautiful impala ram and a cull warthog as well. I have already booked my next African plains game safari, and I cannot wait to return to South Africa.

I have an easy time telling a story with video than words. So I will let the videos tell the story.

As an amateur movie maker, I captured all the hunts on video and have the videos attached. I hope you will enjoy watching them and please leave any comments below.

It was a real hunt, we got lucky with a few animals, but we worked for the others. All-in-all I ended up harvesting eight animals, seven trophy animals, and one cull on my African plains game safari.

  • Kudu
  • White Blesbok
  • Impala
  • Springbuck
  • Warthog
  • Mountain Reedbuck
  • Black Wildebeest
  • Cull Springbuck
Categories
African Hunting

Using African Shooting Sticks

Home » African Hunting

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. We find the quad sticks give significantly more stability and facilitate far longer shots. The preferred style of Rudolph is the one that has 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 material is 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 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 SA.

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, SA.

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

Arrival

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 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 really 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.

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, he missed the second shot, and off he ran. Searched until it was too dark to see. I was disappointed not locating the ram that evening as well as 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, a group of four Nyala bulls emerged in a large, dense thicket with some openings.

Several cows ran to this group, and some posturing with the bulls started happening and 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 (this was a large cattle and sheep ranch north of Bedford) through an acquaintance of Ben. So we hit the road at about 430 am (a 2-hour drive) near the Winterberg Mountains (I think). Higher altitude, for sure. Kyle Brown (property owned by Kenny Brown) accompanied Rob, Ben, and me with several trackers.

We had a bit of fog, so we waited for that 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 and African shooting sticks

After this event, we took a quick lunch break and went off to another section of the ranch where we could walk ravine edges and view the bottoms. 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 for a good shot on that animal. We eventually moved off the hillside. I got my tutorial of proper use with 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; and 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. Some backslapping and lots of handshakes all around.

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!

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 a little 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 hillsides.

There was a nice solitary Springbuck ram that frequented the head of a valley not far away from the lodge we visited first. 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, I didn’t consider them earlier).  

A neat critter was found 2 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 could see them pretty well.

Ben thought we should pursue this one, so we moved down our hillside but were stymied with 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 LBJ’s (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 rifle 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 shot, and the Sako spoke, bullet punched through, short-run and down. These are very muscular antelope. Ben mentioned that a less than an 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 headed back 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 obviously 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 the time when I really started thinking about the end of my safari. Just a couple of animals left to hunt. The days had just seemed to transition smoothly from one day to the next. I really liked that. Since I had originally started looking into an African safari, the last two years had not been really great (except for the birth of my first grandson); my Mom passed away suddenly right before Christmas 2018.

Covid happened, we lost employees at work, so travel and workload became ridiculous and remains so, I was really 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 was 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 watching, while the bull faced us head-on, occasionally pacing off and then 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, 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. 


Apparently, 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; 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, lots of 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, lots of Blue Cranes around, saw 4 Secretary Birds where we hunted the Blesbuck, having a territorial fight than 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), 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—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 really wanted the real deal of South African national animal. 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 seemed to maintain 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 just 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 was able to ride around as an observer/spotter for a father/daughter group hunting at Olivefountain, which was fun watching others stalk their game.

We were able to watch 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 be able 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 that 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 re-fuel 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, 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 while 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. Already missing the meals, loved having the daily cleaning and laundry service.

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

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

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African Hunting

Review – Nick Bowker Hunting

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The Hunt of a Lifetime in South Africa

After much research for my African Hunt, I chose Nick Bowker Hunting in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Here is my hunt African hunting review of Nick Bowker Hunting.


It took me nearly 68 years to determine I could actually hunt in South Africa. And it didn’t require being a millionaire to make it happen. I took eight trophies and was treated like a king. All this for less than a guided Montana Elk Hunt a far lower percentage of taking just one trophy class bull.

Don’t get me wrong. I will never stop chasing the great Wapiti in my home state. I have 400+ bulls hanging on my wall; however, South Africa is the answer when it all comes down to the hunt of a lifetime.

Fallow Deer trophy
My son Daniel is pictured above with his fallow deer trophy.

Covid delayed our hunt by a year. My wife Wendy, my son Daniel, and my daughter-in-law Jodi accompanied me. We departed Billings, Montana, on March 29, 2021. Our flight took us to Denver; then, after 11 hours, to Frankfurt, Germany. Followed by a 13-hour layover, then on to Johannesburg for a 10+ hour flight, then a 4-hour layover in Joberg, then a short 1½ hour flight to Port, Elizabeth. Nick Bowker met at the airport himself, in his Land Cruiser. I need to own one someday.

Warthog trophy
My daughter-in-law Jodie is pictured above with her warthog trophy

Arrival in South Africa


Following a 90-minute drive to OliveFountain Farm, we were met by Ben, another PH. As well as Nick’s wife Elizabeth and their twin daughters. They were on holiday from school and were an absolute delight. I also hired a videographer company with Nick’s recommendation. Igala Productions was very cost-effective and assisted in spotting game that I had trouble locating even with binoculars. Igala provided their regular video expert plus a trainee for only $2,600.

That figure was exceptional. I can’t recommend Igala enough if you can request Nadeen to be your videographer, although Steven and Purin were fantastic. Nadeen was an excellent addition to our hunt and has “eagle eyes” to locate animals.

Nyala trophy
Jodi and Daniel with Jodie’s Nyala trophy

Accommodation Review – Nick Bowker Hunting


The facilities at OliveFountain can only be described as “simply the best.” Homesteaded in the early 1800s, the complex has been in Nick’s family for five generations and has significant updates. Hence, you experience all the modern amenities, including Wi-Fi, plenty of hot water, and private rooms with beds that will make you sleep like a baby.

Embarrassingly, our kids were up and checking out rifles only about 5 yards from my cabin on the first morning of our hunt. They were firing .300 WM rounds downrange, and I did not wake up. I might add my wife slept through my shooting as well. Suddenly, I awoke to find the sun shining in my window and the Land Cruiser leaving with Ben at the wheel and the kids loaded up. I quickly dressed, demonstrated I could at least hit a Barn Door off sticks, grabbed a coffee, and headed out for my first session of hunting.


Relaxed about my sleeping in, Nick just passed it off as jet lag. I made sure it didn’t happen again. We then loaded up with Nick, myself, and Nadeen, searching for whatever presented itself that day. Our 3 trackers plus “Bella” and “Black Jack” were in the back of the rig, anxiously awaiting what beast would present itself. Bella is a beagle with an incredible nose, and Black Jack is a Jack Russel Terrier that I have trouble describing. He is tough and fast, yet when HE decides to snuggle you, he is laying on your lap and expecting a good scratch.

Sable antelope trophy
Daniel’s beautiful sable antelope trophy

Some tips


In session 1, Nick suggested we go on a walk-about and look for a warthog since it was later in the morning. He spotted a great hog in the creek bottom before long that presented a broadside shot at a little over 200 yards. Here is where I learned my first lesson. I used Nick’s Saco .300 WM with a top-end Swaro range finder scope. I ranged the “tusker,” then promptly used the cross-hairs instead of the red ranged cross and shot a few inches under the hog. Rule number one…pay attention to Nick’s explanation. I did not make that mistake again.


Rule number two, if Nick or Ben says it is a “photogenic animal,” shoot it. You will not be disappointed. On the other hand, if they tell you it needs another year or two to grow, listen, then come back another year to take that trophy when it has grown up. I quickly learned that the eye-site of the PH, Videographer, and Trackers is better without binos than mine with them. At times I swear they pulled animals from underground for me to stalk.

Review of nick bowker hunting and a white blesbok trophy.
Jodie’s white blesbok trophy

Session 2: After a great brunch and a nap, we headed out for the afternoon and evening hunt. Although we saw hundreds of animals of all species literally, Nick kept informing me, “there are better ones to pursue. So, we headed back to the farm headquarters for an evening of getting better acquainted; having a glass of relaxing agent and a dinner that exceeds anything you could find in New York; although I think New York Sucks…

Food Review – Nick Bowker Hunting

At this point, I need to interject a message about Elizabeth, Nick’s better half, that spends hours in the kitchen with her assistants preparing side dishes and desserts that are nothing short of fabulous. She is a real “keeper.” Elizabeth also took Wendy and Jodi to Addo Elephant Park and Port Elizabeth to see elephants and for some shopping.

Review of Nick Bowker Hunting - Mountain Reedbuck trophy.
Daniel and Jodie with Jodie’s mountain Reedbuck trophy.

Black Wildebeest


Session 3: I want you to know I was up in time for coffee and to catch my ride at 6:30 am. Nick promptly took me to a pasture with again hundreds of animals, and 2 Black Wildebeest appeared; junior and grandpa. By no means did Nick pressure me to shoot one, but he did say he would trade me out for other animals in my package since this beast was not on my list. So, how could I say no? I gave him the go-ahead, and he led my stalk into a reasonable distance for a shot.

Nick sent the trackers around the back of the beasts when “grampa” and “Junior” started in our direction. Placed on sticks, I punched a hole in the beast, of which he reared up in the air and sold out for distance regions. At about 160 yards, I gave him a heart attack and put my first animal in the books.

Gemsbok hunt review – Nick Bowker Hunting


Session 4: After a great brunch and rest, we were off again. This time, I had told Nick if a Gemsbok got in the way, I would certainly be interested, even though it was not on my package. So, I guess it was inevitable a herd of gemsbok appeared, and after a long stalk, Nick told me which one was a shooter. I dumped a beautiful Gemsbok off the sticks at 206 yards in its tracks. Score two…

Review of Nick Bowker Hunting - gemsbok trophy.
My gemsbok trophy

Nyala hunt review – Nick Bowker Hunting

Session 5: In pursuit of a Kudu or Nyala, we got into a bachelor herd of Nyala Bulls, which Nick led me into a shooting position, and again I dropped the bull at 244 yards in his tracks. He had no idea we were even there. Ironically, following my shot, a nice Kudu Bull blew out no more than 10 yards to my right; however, I had no time to get a shot off. By now, I was feeling like a great hunter when it was the leadership of Nick, our trackers, and videographers.

Review of Nick Bowker Hunting - Nyala trophy
My Nyala trophy

Impala

Session 6: After Coffee, Toast, we headed out for another day. We had not traveled more than a couple of miles from camp before we found a herd of Impala. Somehow, I was brought back to earth after missing a 150-yard shot-off stick. When I pulled the trigger, I knew my bullet would land in another time zone. Why? I sucked…So Nick took me on a short stalk and located where the herd of Impala went. I didn’t mess up this time at 260 yards, and we had another animal for the bag.

Review of Nick Bowker Hunting - Impala trophy
My impala trophy
Impala trophy.
Jodies impala trophy

Session 7: Out we went, and I had an excellent opportunity to take a Springbok. I don’t know how I missed it as I swear it was nearly sitting on the rifle’s barrel. Possibly, it had nine lives like a cat because I will never know how I missed it. I blamed Nick for a faulty loaded bullet, and he just agreed and said we needed to move on. His patience with me was beyond believable.

Review of Nick Bowker Hunting - springbok trophy.
Jodies springbok trophy

Kudu


Session 8: Although we saw hundreds of animals, none of them met Nick’s standard., Again, his knowledge and expertise far exceeded anyone I have hunted with. He is ethical, safety-minded, and patient with guys like me.


Session 9: So many animals, but none meet Nick’s standards. Something I want to point out is that it is not about trophy class animals; it is about taking animals over the hill. Nick won’t shoot breeding animals with great genetics, he is only about taking out the old guys that likely would not make it through the winter, and yes, South Africa does have winter.


Session 10: Again, no trophy class animals. That wasn’t the case with my kids, as my son took an incredible Kudu and Sable. I’m jealous…


Session 11: we traveled north a bit and saw many good Kudu but not a great animal, according to Nick. He kept telling us there was a better trophy, so the other Land Cruiser brought us lunch; session 12 changed things completely.

We came upon a herd of 7 bulls, of which three broke off. The remainder 4 made my blood pressure sky-rocket. A white-horned bull was in front of the bull Nick told me to take. For the following 15 minutes, whenever the white=horned bull would move, the one I was supposed to shoot moved with him. Finally, I had a few seconds, and Nick said to drop the hammer. He went down like a ton, then up he came, and I had to finish the job after covering about 50 yards.

Fallow Deer hunt review – Nick Bowker Hunting


Session 12: we pursued a Fallow Deer Buck but didn’t find the big guy, although my interpretation and Nick’s differed. Fortunately, I had the sense to shut up and listen to Nick. We saw several good bucks, but my slow preparation to shoot exceeded the bucks’ willingness to stay put. Again, Nick was calm and put up with my screw-up.


Session 13: We sought a nice fallow deer, and I connected at 160 yards. I pulled the trigger. It is a beautiful animal and will make a great mount. I am proud of the beast and owe my success to everyone else.

Review of Nick Bowker Hunting - Fallow deer trophy.
My fallow deer trophy

Waterbuck


Session 14: Understand that a short, fat English-Irishman nearly 68 years old is not an outfitters/guide’s ideal candidate for a hunt. That said, Nick and his crew did everything to make my (our) hunt exceptional. That describes me perfectly.

That afternoon, Nick spotted a trophy waterbuck above us along with several Kudu and waterbok Cows. He “nursed” me into position up a steep grade and at quite a distance. Yes, he kept telling me it was only another 100 yards when it was 600 yards, but I bought into it.

Finally, we arrived at a point where I would have a shot if and when the bull came out of the brush. After a long wait, Nick said, don’t move and be silent; a cow had moved down within 10 yards of us. I could not see her, but I followed Nick’s lead, and when the bull stepped out at 286 yards, I put one in the boiler room. He went down, then back up, and I put another round far back. He again went down, and I put another in his boiler room for good.


Session 15: Off to Grahamstown for a Covid Test. Although Nick never complained and worked it out, what a waste of a hunting session.

Warthog

Session16: The last two animals we pursued were a warthog for me and a Fallow Deer for my son. My son dropped a monster Fallow Deer thanks to Ben in the late hours of his last session, and I dropped a Warthog at 4:00 pm of our previous session at 386 yards.


Everything else aside, it wasn’t about just getting our animals. It was about the experience of getting to know people halfway around the world. I can’t say enough about the excellent treatment we received and the friendships we gained. Before I cross over, I must go and spend time with our new friends…they are: “simply the best.”

Review of Nick Bowker Hunting - Warthog trophy.
My warthog trophy

Thank you, Nick, Ben, Elizabeth, Nadeen, Purin, Steven, and everyone else.
God’s best blessings to you and yours…

Categories
African Hunting

Low Fenced African Hunting

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.

Gemsbok low fenced African Hunting
Gemsbok Hunting with Nick Bowker

Low Fenced African Hunting with Nick Bowker

This 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 seven 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 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.

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. We ended up leaving on schedule two days before South Africa essentially closed its “airline” borders to foreign travelers.

Kudu Hunting with Nick Bowker
Kudu Hunting with Nick Bowker

Planning and Logistics for our Low fenced African Hunting Trip

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. 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 British Airways for the flight from JNB to Port Elizabeth.

Warthog Hunting
Warthog Hunting with Nick Bowker

Arrival

Nick was standing outside the arrival doors when we got there, helped us with our bags, and drove us to the lodge.

It was a tremendous 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 bothered by getting peppered with questions by enthusiastic rookies!

Upon arrival, we met Benjamin, a PH that works with Nick.

Nyala Free Range Hunting
Nyala Hunting with Nick Bowker

Facilities

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, 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 an older farm/ranch house, with additions to accommodate larger hunting parties.

Nick has WiFi that runs on power when it is on. (it 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.

Accommodation for Hunting with Nick Bowker
Hunting Accommodation

Staff

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 daily. Nick’s hunting staff were also great.

Cheerful and helpful, they helped make each hunt better. Benjamin is also an excellent PH (more on that later) – easy to talk to, friendly, and always looking for ways to improve your trip.

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 excellent.

Over the course of the six days of hunting, we had kudu sausage, eggs, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, hamburgers, fries, pork, and probably five other things. Dinners were made by a woman Nick has hired only to handle dinners, and she crushes them.

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 arriving) and had a blast at dinner time by the fire.

Rifles

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 ensure she was comfortable shooting from the sticks.

We had gone shooting before, but this allowed her to get comfortable with Nick’s guns and for him to get comfortable with her shooting.

After that morning, we hunted together during our low-fenced African hunting safari.

Low-fenced African Hunting Area

Nick hunts on his land, his family’s land, and some other extensive 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 low-fenced African hunting areas fit the bill. The numbers and variety of animals blew us away.

Selective Hunting

This being my first time hunting in Africa, I was excited. 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.

Everyone is different, but for me, the hunt is essential. I like to shoot nice trophies, but not at the expense of a good hunt. I prefer to shoot an average trophy on a great hunt instead of a great trophy on an average hunt.

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 (the first day). We worked hard for all 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.

Low-Fenced African Impala Hunt

Both Nick and Benjamin worked their butts off, ensuring we got the animals we came for. My impala hunt was terrific.

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; it was a fantastic hunt.

Kudu 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 at that moment, but it stayed with me for the rest of the trip.

Warthog Hunt

We spent the last couple of days chasing Warthogs. It sounded like they were generally shot while pursuing something else; that was not our situation.

Given the vast amount of rain (drought-ending, apparently) falling in the area we were hunting, the hogs didn’t need to move much to get food and water.

Plus, we were early, and the boars weren’t 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, resulting in a gnarly old boy for my fiancé and an excellent 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)

Warthog Low fenced Hunting
Warthog Hunting with Nick Bowker Hunting

Final Hunt on our low-fenced African Hunting Safari

The last hunt (for my hog) 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 strong wind, which helped a ton, but we knew it would be tricky 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. That only adds to the low-fenced African hunting experience and memories and is precisely 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 account – 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 a fantastic 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.

Bottom Line

I’m already trying to figure out when I can get back and which friends I can talk into joining me. Nick Bowker receives 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?

 

Categories
African Hunting

My African Hunt

You know one thing leads to another, and a year later, Thomas and I are on an airplane to Africa. Wild! My first Africa hunting trip.

My African hunt - hunting vehicles

First, Teresa and I were invited by our good friends, Mark and Dianne, to stay a week in the mountains of Colorado in my Dad’s favorite town, Pagosa Springs. Having just traded correspondence with my half-brother Thomas Audetat, also of Pagosa Springs, it seemed the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and relatives in the clear, clean mountain air. And so it was.

Once, we settled into the beautiful condo on the lake, hosted by Mark and Di. We were invited to dinner by Thomas. Sister Donna was as gracious as ever and cooked a fabulous feast for the whole tribe, and everyone had a good time.

While touring their quaint log home–Teresa wants one–Thomas showed us the African trophies he and Donna had taken on their 2010 safari. You know one thing leads to another, and a year later, Thomas and I are on an airplane to Africa. Wild!

Since Thomas had already been, it was an excellent opportunity to go with an old hand arranging hunting dates with the professional hunter (PH), clothes, flights, customs, cartridges, and a whole lot more.

Waterbuck trophy taken on my first African hunt

Ten days was just perfect-plan

Ten days was the perfect plan for spending two weeks with shooting, packing, travel, jet lag, etc.

Then there is the list of animals we could harvest. It is daunting. They run from small-hard to see and hit to huge-easy to see and harder to kill. The diversity of habitats in the East Cape of South Africa is astonishing, from the low, dark river bottom to high baldy mountain tops within an hour’s drive.

Our host, Nick Bowker, and his brother Rob, rugged 5th generation South African “farmers” of English descent, were most gracious and met us at the “Oliver Tambo” airport in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. A small airport on the order of Colorado Springs or Corpus Christi. Guns, ammo, and luggage are all right there, and a great relief after a nearly 24-hour flight from Minneapolis, Houston, Atlanta, Johannesburg, and finally, Port Elizabeth.

It took about two hours to the lodgings in a new Toyota Land Cruiser. The main road was under construction, so we went through a more residential area. A government shantytown was peculiar with the one-room shacks and hydro-solar water heaters atop nearly everyone. The garbage along the road exiting the Port Elizabeth area was everywhere, but the further from town we went, the cleaner the road and surrounding area.

Finally, we approached the farmstead over a seemingly endless series of “speed bumps” engineered to divert the seldom but heavy rain away from the unpaved gravel road. Up and down we went; after about a mile, Thomas noted there were 20 in all!

A couple of hours to the hunting lodge

The charming old single-story farmhouse could have been in Wisconsin was our lodgings for our African hunt.
After getting everything sorted out and having a light lunch, we went to find a warthog. As we drove down around the farm, the trackers, riding in the bed of the land cruiser, noticed some kudu cows but no shooters, and then a friendly warthog showed up on a distant hillside.

Would you like a warthog?

Would you like a warthog?” the PH, Nick, asked. Yes, said I. We pulled off the gravel road and through a gate onto a service trail, working our way closer to the hog. Finally, pulling over, the shooting sticks went up. “215yds,” he says. BOOM, the reassuring thud, and a good shot called out.

But wait. Where did that pig go with my tusks? Up the steep hill, we went looking for blood. We followed a good blood trail as the trusty Mr. Russell, Jack, was on the track. It seems he has a real affinity for pork. It took a while for Jack to find my pig but not long to get our attention with a sharp bark. One of our trackers said something in his soft native Xhosa, “fumene igazi,” interpreted by our Professional Hunter as “he’s got blood.”

Warthog trophy taken on my African hunt

As we quickly followed the barking, the dog and boar came into view. The dog slowed down the pig with remarkable courage and technique… something about nipping off the family jewels gets them all kinds of excited.

I followed the dog looking for a second shot–busting brush like only a properly raised bramble-busting hillbilly can do-I heard the P.H. behind me; don’t shoot the dog! Never considered it, but it was our first hunt together, and as he said, I was in a zone. I suppose the way I walked through thorns must have given him an impression.

Finally, the boar turns to fight.

Finally, the boar turns to fight and then to run: SHOOT, SHOOT, SHOOT, the P.H. yells from behind, BANG another round into the boar’s left flank, quartering away. Two solid hits from the 280, and that son-of-a-pork-rind trotted off again, but Jack was on him like he owed him money!

Twenty yards farther and down, he went with the Jack on top.

My first pig ever and my first trophy on my African hunt, and hunting over that fearless terrier reminded me why people hunt with dogs! Fantastic.

Tune in later for the next edition of “A Plumber in Africa.”

African plains game in the area is abundant

Rob asked why we Americans are so keen on taxidermy. Well, you know it is fun to share your adventures with your family and make your friends jealous. OK, two friends well, one is related, yes, well, my one friend is jealous. You know who you are, I hope.

We were fortunate to see many exotic animals, including a puff adder -on the road- Giraffe, Impala, springbuck, tortoise Zebra, wildebeest, baboons, and mongoose.

By the way, no malaria, dengue, or tsetse flies to fight, so vaccination is unnecessary. T.B. and HIV run rampant in specific native communities, but that is a whole other matter.

I would like to point out that seeing these animals “in the wild” is much more interesting than any zoo and undoubtedly better for the animals.

The animals were, in fact, residents of the “farms” we hunted: some transients and some more permanent, depending on the particular traits of the animals in question.

Naturally, they compete with the farmer’s livestock but are tolerated and protected for the value of the hunter’s store in them. It is more likely a tasty sheep is poached than any exotic plains game animal living in the East Cape.

Ownership of the land is mostly private, so most of the fences were quite familiar, four-string barbed wire, with some for cattle and others for the many Merino sheep on the place. Few were over 4 feet tall, and none could keep any of the wild animals we saw. Going over barbed wire took me back…

It reminded me of New Mexico.

It reminded me of any high-mountain plain and made me homesick for New Mexico, but the seemingly endless termite mounds on a good part of the dry rolling plains. Think of an anthill, some 2 feet tall and hard as a baseball. At least half are dug out by nocturnal visit of the local aardvark (Afrikaans for anteater.) A termite hill can make an excellent rifle rest, though I missed the first shot at my Waterbuck with a perfect rest on such a construct. The closer you get to the ground, you will likely hit twigs, grass, and such. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. And Speaking of sticks, you will need to practice using them. I had great difficulty and frankly might have shot better off-hand, free hand in Africa, following many years of shooting silhouette.

Now the ranch/farm next door did have the 10′ electrified monster fence you always hear about and over-grazed fields from lack of proper management. It seems a Texan owns it. Go figure.

African plains game in the area is abundant, and most are available to any hunter willing to pay for the privilege. Each animal has a price according to supply and demand. Generally, the bigger they are, the more they cost. South African hunting packages offer a wide variety of trophies. You will see the amount of work involved as we go along.

Impala ram scratching its self.

Firearms

There is a lot of speculation about the firearms one needs for a plains game African hunting safari. Naturally, you can take mine to the bank. First, let’s start with getting them to Africa and back.

Next, we spotted and stalked a beautiful Impala just a few miles from the farm. Many watchful eyes in his harem still got close enough for a good clean miss on two different stalks! I took the rock wall rest instead of the sticks.

I had shot off the sticks at home but hard to practice on moving game. Complained that the animals should be tied AND hobbled! It did seem to get better after that. The following day, I stopped at the range and checked the zero on the 280AI…maybe a bit high.

Boots

Before leaving for Africa, I read a lot about what to expect. Many insisted on special “quiet” boots only made in South Africa. After checking the price and availability, I opted for a pair of low Clarks, all leather, relaxed, and comfortable.

Good to have an extra pair, so I took a boot I used when shooting down at the Whittington Centre in Raton, NM. I could have gotten by with any non-insulated boots with some ankle protection.

The P.H.? I found him wearing a low Danner made in the USA! And, of course, the trademark gators I could only see at Midway. Perfect for keeping sharp flora out of the footwear.

As for the thorns, burrs, and such, I found the combination of low boot and gators quite comfortable. April being their fall made for perfect weather, sunny 72 and 60 at night for a good hike and sound sleep. Hunting in a T-shirt and shorts was an odd experience on my African hunt.

My African Hunt – Nyala Hunt

Next on down the road to stalk the beautiful Nyala. It wasn’t long before our trusty trackers spotted an old bull halfway up a dark hillside. Fortunately, the male is quite distinct from the female, and another 200-yard shot off the sticks.

A solid hit in the high center, not taking any chances after the Impala fiasco. A quick follow-up shot off-hand (freehand in S.A.) in the vitals, and all was good. Suitable for the farmer and the hunter to harvest old animals fed for years and save from old age’s ravages.

Nyala trophy hunted with Nick Bowker Hunting

The Eastern Cape

We left off in the East Cape of South Africa, a place with a long history…

From the early colonization by the Dutch in 1652, the British takeover in 1806, and their defeat of the Dutch Boers in 1902 to the end of Apartheid Africa in 1994, South Africa has never been dull.

When an American thinks of Africa, especially one of my generation, he can’t help but imagine Tarzan’s Africa with friendly elephants, silly chimpanzees, and ferocious but manageable lions at every turn. Then, there is the jungle with convenient vine-to-vine transportation and a liberal dress code.

Then there is UNICEF Africa with starving children, enormous heaps of trash, and malaria everywhere.

My African Hunt

Wanting to be fully prepared, I read a lot about Africa and decided malaria would be an excellent place to start. But alas, malaria has been all but eradicated from the Cape. No worries there, but for the environmentalist trying the save the planet (ban DDT), human cost be damned.

The South Africans (S.A.) have a nasty tick, but who doesn’t? At any rate, spending most of our time on the lake or down by the river on the farm, ticks, and mosquitoes-Spanish for “little fly”-are everywhere. I likely have Deet in my blood and no Lyme disease yet. In fact, we suffered from no bugs to speak of, but we were there in the dry season.

This leads me to another idea I had about Gin and Tonic. Being one of my standby cocktails and part of my English heritage-on my mother’s side coming from Adams, Smiths, Light foots, and the like–wouldn’t it be great if a “medicinal” G&T would stop all threat from these various tiny marauders? No such luck. It seems the FDA finds quinine too dangerous for 21st Century man, so the allowed dose in anyone, or ten, G&T’s is just too low to inoculate even a suitably imbibed individual.

My African Hunt – Gin and Tonic

As for drinking while hunting. Yes. After each hunt, we started with wine and local beer–both great–served in the old powerhouse, which used to house a Lister diesel generator. Miles of wind-driven generators across the windy planes stretch out to the northern hills. Power can be unreliable, so a small Honda keeps the lights on when necessary.

The old powerhouse is quaint, seating four comfortably at the bar with a fantastic veranda and outdoor fireplace. A zebra rug underfoot.

After a few nights, I thought gin and tonic would be nice, even if they offered no protection. When I ordered one before dinner, our host, Nick Bowker, seemed quite surprised volunteering that it is a popular local drink. He and his tribe are English, but few American visitors requested it on their African hunts. I have to say it is tonic that makes a great G&T.

Dinner was the back-strap from a Mountain Spring Buck. Excellent. And what is any meal without a sweet dessert? Never disappointed.

Oh yes, and the hunting.

My African Hunt – Kudu Hunting

The Kudu was on my list. He likes heavy cover, and the first afternoon out, we drove up a trail and stopped for a moment in dense brush. As I looked out the window of the Land Cruiser and the “Grey Ghost” was looking back at me, not 20 yards away. That didn’t last, but after a long day hunting, Nick found another down by the river in dense brush.

We stalked afoot for a mile or two until within 200 yards or so. I threw up the 280 Ackley stoked with 160 grain Nosler Accubonds at 2800 fps. I had difficulty getting the rifle to settle down, and he decided he couldn’t wait.

Another quarter-mile hike, and he was curious again. This time was standing dead still and looking right at us. In an instant, Nick had the tripod shooting sticks set up, perfect height and direction. Through up again and waited for him to turn for a nice broadside shot. No luck. I swear Kudo must play a lot of poker.

Finally, with some anxiety, I decided to drop one under his chin.

Finally, with some anxiety, I decided to drop one under his chin. Not ideal, but at 230 yards or so, it should’ve worked. Well, you could hear the solid “thud,” and all seemed happy. I thanked God, prematurely, at about a half-a-squeeze, but wouldn’t you know it, that damned Kudu didn’t know he was supposed to roll over. Instead, he turned into that “Grey Ghost” they talked about and alluded our P.H., two savvy trackers, and Mr. Russell to spite a good blood trail for a couple of miles. Perhaps the tried-and-true Nosler Partition would have done the job?

It was getting dark; we retired and started the next morning again. A day spent tracking over hill-and-dale with the trail running out, and reality sets in. I had shot and lost my first big game animal. It is the ultimate dishonor for a hunter to lose such a beautiful beast to poor judgment. My impatience cost me the biggest and most beautiful antelope and a real two-turn beauty at that. Of course, the “you shoot ‘them, you bought them policy” on an African hunt was in effect, so we all pay for our mistakes, as it should be.

Kudu trophy taken on my African hunt

Even the dog wasn’t talking to me

The next morning we went after the Nyala, last reported, and I felt better about life in general and hunting in particular. Thank you, Thomas, for helping me get the order right. 

Next installment; Land of the Eland…

My African Hunt – Eland Hunt

Brother Thomas had come to fill out his previous 10-animal African hunt and wanted an Eland in the worst way. I hadn’t decided on an Eland but pulled out the old 358 Norma Mag. This old bolt action was sporterized back in the ’60s on a 1903-A3 Springfield action, sitting in lovely walnut furniture with a custom, deep-blued barrel and express sights. I added a vintage 2 3/4 power “post and wire” scope, anticipating some heavy brush hunting.

After our morning hunt, followed by a light lunch and requisite afternoon nap, under the watchful eye of a lovely Blesbok, we proceeded to a friend’s sizable farm in the mountains about an hour away, going northeast, past Adelaide.

After much driving up the steep, rocky roads-much as Colorado-we arrived at a high-country farm at the base of an enormous box canyon. Then up an even rougher road, every rock enhanced by the durable but unforgiving straight axles on our indestructible Land Cruiser, we gained a commanding view of most of the canyon and cultivated farm at its base.

After some serious glassing, my ancient Leica 8×35 binoculars were of little use in such a big country, so the smart guys used their 10×50 binoculars built by Zeiss and Swarovski; all laser rangefinder equipped, of course.

Finding animals several miles off is an acquired skill

Finding animals several miles off is an acquired skill, and prairie dog hunting doesn’t count. A bit like elk hunting without the snow. I did see many animals, including Black Wildebeest, Baboons, and Zebra, but few before the others had already dismissed them.

Finally, we were ready to have a stalk on these enormous beasts.

There was a herd of more than a dozen bulls and a good number of cows separated by a few dozen yards opposite the hillside we were glassing from a couple of miles away. The plan was to go back down to the valley bottom, have a leisurely lunch, and then send the two trackers, with Mr. Russell, to drive the bulls back to us on the opposite side.

We dropped the trackers off to the canyon’s east side and drove over the west for a half-mile hike setting up a hundred yards or so above the canyon floor. Then we waited and glassed, watching the trackers deftly cut the cows from the bulls, pushing them down and away while the bulls came around the bottom rim of the box canyon at a leisurely pace, as if it were their idea.

After an hour or so, we noticed the sizeable herd of wildebeest milling around several hundred yards to the north and between the eland and us being driven our way. They seemed to be always moving, and when the eland approached, they began to get all excited, moving our way and then reversing back to the north.

Eland trophy hunted on my African hunt

Comical honking, jumping, and general hysteria

It wasn’t long before the comical honking, jumping, and general hysteria brought both wildebeest and eland running right at us, then splitting this way and that. One wildebeest, then one eland, then three wildebeest, and so on, going up and down around us until I couldn’t tell where they had all gone.

Our Professional Hunter signaled silence and for us to stay put while he gingerly walked 10 yards north of our stand and stopped cold. After a minute, he back up slowly, indicating the eland was just in from of him a few yards away. The wind was right, and we set up just behind our position as the bulls worked their way below us and began to run back up the hill.

Nick had his sticks up, and Thomas was in position with his new Model 700 Remington in the traditional .375 H&H at the ready. Just then, several bulls came pounding up the hill, trying to get around us and back up the mountain to heavy cover. They were less than 50 yards from us and made quite an impression as they pounded away.

My African Hunt – “No time for sticks.”

There was no time for sticks as I watched Thomas smoothly follow and touch off a .375 at what looked like a Brahma bull. As the huge bull rolled over at the crack of thunder from Thomas’s compensated 375, the P.H. turned to me, saying: Do you want one?

Sure. I stepped up. Which one? The second. As the first bull cleared, up came the second and my vintage Norma Mag. Finally, a running shot in the hill country, just like home. The 2 3/4 power Lyman with post and cross-wire couldn’t have been better as I shot the beast quartering away uphill. The 250 grain Nosler partition drove through his hip and stuck in his hide opposite his lungs as he instantly rolled over, feet kicking in the air.

Two bulls shot about 20 seconds, and as many feet apart were both DRT, dead right there. Incredible!

My brother John saw the picture of the four-wire fence we traversed on our way out and joked that they almost made it. The fact is they say a 1-ton eland can jump a ten-foot wall. I don’t know if our animal weighed a ton, but it did take eight locals, a Professional Hunter, and a less than average-sized plumber to get one on the back of the Land Cruiser!

Both animals were typical in size, with the Professional Hunter pointing out Thomas’s likely older with a broad “brush” and wide base for horns a bit shorter than mine. Diplomatic all the time that Nick. 

More fun than any human should be allowed to have.

Two Eland trophies

My African Hunt – Brother Thomas and his Warthog

Thomas was stalking his Warthog on the other side of the ridge we were hunting. When the Kudu bulls took off, we hiked over to help.

The trackers had the animal spotted but couldn’t see where he went exactly. Finally, Thomas and our Professional Hunter, Nick, decided to kick the bushes and see if the pig would move. Yet, with all eyes on the spot, they had to nearly step on him in the middle of his favorite afternoon napping place.

We all watched as Thomas swung his 257 Weatherby dropping the running hog between us with one clean shot. Perfect follow-through.

Jack was pleased claiming the pig as he always does.

Buy the way, I know a few of you are card-carrying members of Sierra Club, but here’s some real-world information on hunting for the bleeding-heart relatives we all suffer with. 

Warthog trophy

My African hunt – Waterbuck hunt

The night before, Nick asked if I would like another crack at that big Waterbuck, adding that it is getting kind of personal. I agreed, and the next morning off, we went betting he would still be with his cows.

After glassing a bit from afar hillside, we saw them just where we left them a couple of days earlier.

The stalk would be a long one, down into the valley below and up the other side. Nick, one of our trackers, and Mr. Russell left the others to keep an eye out and give a call on the radio if anything came up.

We were following a sheep fence on the way up the other side when a sow and piglet ran up along the other side. I was sure they would alert our bull, but just as they got up the hill, a hundred yards or so ahead of us, down came a Waterbuck with the bigger of the two right on his heels.

“I don’t know whose eyes were bigger?”

As Nick said, “I don’t know whose eyes were bigger?” as the first buck saw us and veered off to the left, leaving the bigger of the two crashing down within 20 yards of us and then following the first one.

I raised my gun, and both Professional Hunter and tracker ducked as the 280 swung over the fence. I could see what I thought was the buck’s front shoulder, but with my 4-12x set at 8x, I could only see a scope full of hair. In another second, both Waterbuck disappeared along with my second chance for a beautiful trophy.

All the same, it was an exciting hunt, and on the way back, Thomas spotted a native of Indonesia standing under a tall acacia. We were able to flank that old Fallow Deer, and Thomas took a cameo shot through the bush, facilitated by a monster Leopold scope mounted on the 257…DRT.

Fallow deer African hunt.

I have passed up many opportunities to hunt and fish over the years

I lost one of my oldest friends to prostate/bone cancer last year. It profoundly affected me and reminded me of my father’s recurrent warning to go hunting, fishing, and trapping while still young?

Ignoring my father’s good advice for most of my life, I have passed up many opportunities to hunt and fish over the years, pursuing various careers instead until I found myself no longer young.

So, I felt more than fortunate to hunt Africa and lucky that the hunting did not include much mountain climbing, fording of rivers, or deep jungle excursions. In fact, on the last day of our 10-day hunt, cloudy weather turned into a light steady rain. Since we were south of the equator in April, the weather was cool, dry, and calm.

My African Hunt – Cape Bushbuck

Brother Thomas lamented that the forecast did not bode well for our last day as he was still short one Cape Bushbuck, having given up an earlier chance, which I took for him :-). But the following day, after a good sleep and quick breakfast, we all loaded into the truck for a short trip around the farm.

It wasn’t long before we heard a tap on the roof and a soft voice telling Nick my Mountain Reedbuck was waiting for me right up the hill. Sure enough, with his laser vision, Nick spotted the small herd of Reedbuck just north of the road and high up on the hill. It took a minute more for him to find the buck lying down in the perfect cover of rock and veld.

Bushbuck hunted with Nick Bowker Hunting

“Reedbuck,” Nick says while sliding out of the driver’s seat.

“Reedbuck,” Nick says while sliding out of the driver’s seat. Binoculars in hand, he whispers, “Nice one,” my cue to get armed and ready. In another second, the dreaded “sticks” were up. As I mounted the 280, Ackley asking out of the corner of my mouth, “how far,” Nick relayed, “190”.

In the two minutes it took us to set up, the lovely little, 50lb buck had gotten up from his “comfortable” bed and slowly walked up the hill, just cresting it for a perfect silhouette in the overcast drizzle, and then it happened.

Without my usual pause and seemingly endless “aiming,” I found the relatively small shoulder and squeezed that trigger like Adam finally touched God. I knew when the buck’s head reared up, and his hind legs slipped out from under him that the 160 grain Nosler Accubond hand worked as advertised. Nick could not hide his surprise, but he did smile. Back to the farm for a nice lunch, a requisite nap, and on to the afternoon hunt!

Perfect start to a great day! Stay tuned for the Final Chapter of our African hunt.

The final chapter

There had been very little rain; we couldn’t begrudge them the little moisture we were getting on our last hunting African hunt day. As the cold drizzle kept the dust and the animals down, I found some clouds, and rain made for a great little nap. After a perfect lunch, Nick asked if I would like to take a shot at the White Blesbok I commented on earlier in the week.

Having slept under the nice shoulder mount in my room for a week, I found him one of the ugliest animals I ever saw. “Bles” (Afrikaans for blaze) refers to the white patch typical of the standard animal or the white patch commonly found on a pony.

I did note that the Blesbok looks better in all-white

I think the only antelope hit by an uglier stick is the Hartebeest. But I did note that the Blesbok looks better in all-white, which seemed to entertain the typically stoic Professional Hunter.

Off we went then, up and down the gravel road almost to the rock fence denoting the entrance to the farm, and a hard left through fields covered with sheep, finally to a large bowl about a mile round filled with Springbok and Blesbok in several herds with singles interspersed.

We had driven past these herds several times on various hunts, and Nick’s brother Rob had culled a lame Springbok not far from our current stalk. But this was the first serious look at a Blesbok trophy.

Nick seemed relieved to find a lovely “white” Blesbok lying comfortably in his bed. Like us, these plains game animals like to lounge around when it is raining.

We jumped out the Land Cruiser at a half-mile or so. As had been my habit, I followed Nick lock-step about a yard behind, reading somewhere that two appear as one animal when so configured. He likely thought me gay at first but did note that I loaded my gun, before the stalk, instead of racking one in behind him, as he recalled one of his clients doing.

My African Hunt – White Blesbok

As we slowly but deliberated, walked straight at the Blesbok, Nick reading his mood, stopping every 100 yards or so to glass the beast. Ever closer, I wondered just how close we would get in this now gently rolling terrain in plain sight of our target. After 20 minutes or so, the buck reluctantly got up from his wet bed to take a closer look at this 4-legged man.

Nick turned to me and asked if I wanted to shoot from the sticks or the ground? Ha! I went for the ground without answering, wet or not. We had discussed the strategy the night before, and Nick agreed to lend me his suppressed Remington 700 in 7mm magnum for what would surely be a long shot.

I have asked if I would like the Swarovski reticle illuminated or straight. “Straight,” I said straight, thinking I wouldn’t know what to do with an illuminated crosshair.

As I nestled in behind the familiar furniture of his Remington 700 7mag–identical to 280AI, but for a bit more powder behind a 162grain Hornady SST, the suppressor and handy little bipod–the whole thing felt like home.

Springbok cull hunted with Nick Bowker hunting

How far? “425 yards,”; says Nick.

Now prone with the standard rifle and spectacular glass, I was cold as the rain gently covering everything. Fortunately, I have used a bipod and had only to find my target, still curious about the now dismembered 4-legged farmer. As I settled in and pulled the rifle gently back into my shoulder, take the slack out of the bipod.

How far? “425 yards,”; says Nick.

Knowing the seven mag shoots a bit faster than my old 280, I held just at the top of the shoulder and let the gas out of that 7mag. A second and a half later, the Blesbok took the same attitude as the Reedbuck earlier that day. As he went down, Nick started trotting toward him. I didn’t need to ask as I already had a fresh round in the chamber and followed him toward the badly hurt but still moving animal.

As we approached at 150 yards or so, the buck noticed our approach-from a different angle–and tried to get up. Nick said, “Shoot him again.” Something about adrenaline seems to make my off-hand better than my rested shooting, and the second round was straight in the boiler room, lights out for a nice white Blesbok.

Naturally, I was elated, but Nick was excited–since he had his prayers answered–and made a gesture to give me a high-5, which I mostly missed, but just the same, I was happy for both of us.

My African Hunt – “All’s well that ends well.”

As W.S. once said, “All’s well that ends well.” And so did our African hunt adventure. Not the grand safari I read about in my youth, conducted by the intrepid, if murderous, hunters like Karamoja at the turn of the century. Still, most of the animals taken back then are always available and sustainable through the mutual interest of avid hunters and capable animal husbandry practiced by my new friends in the East Cape.

I want to thank my gracious host, his brother Rob and their crew. Not forgetting my brother John who recommended the guns, I took note of the similarity of my Mauser 358NM and Bell’s 257Rigby– and Dan, who gave much insight from his time working in the new Medupi power station northwest of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, to the locals. And, of course, brother Thomas started the whole thing by wistfully recounting the trip he and the lovely Donna first made in 2010 while I admired the beautiful mounts hanging on the walls of his study.

Finally, I would like to thank my fans, without which none of this would have been possible. OK, my fan. OK, Teresa, my one and only.

It was a great time, and yes, I would go back in a heartbeat, plus 24 hours of air time, figure two days travel, little sleep, and a severe backache for your South African hunt.

Thank you all for tuning in. I hope you all enjoyed this short epistle and will endeavor to bring you a new and exciting hunting adventure soon.

Until then, keep that fan mail coming!

Blesbok trophy taken on ny African hunt
Categories
African Hunting

African Hunting Trip

It was seven years since our last South African hunting trip to the Eastern Cape with Nick Bowker.

I was with my buddy for our second trip with Nick. In addition, we wanted to go after some different animals this time.

We also wanted to hunt a few of the same animals as our first time in South Africa. We had previously had fantastic Kudu hunting with Nick.

In 2012, we took a Kudu, Mountain Reedbuck, Springbok, Impala, Warthog, and Blesbok. Nick has very appealing hunting packages available for South African Plains Game.

Kudu hunting trip with Nick Bowker

Day 1 Arrival in South Africa

We arrived in Port Elizabeth mid-morning and were greeted at the airport by Nick Bowker and his brother Rob Bowker.

And made the 90-minute trip to OliveFountain Ranch, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where we stayed for the following week.

We unpacked and dialed in our rifles at the range on the property.

This day was a bit misty and rainy, but that didn’t stop us from going for a great walk in the hills and valleys.

Zebra taken on our African hunting trip

Even though the weather this day wasn’t the best, we still saw so many animals of trophy quality. But we decided against shooting any animals; we would have seven days of hunting in front of us. And given the number of animals we saw, we felt very comfortable passing on some quality animals. Knowing we would have more opportunities.

Upon returning to the lodge, we enjoyed a fantastic steak dinner, some outstanding South African wine, and a few beers/cocktails.

We sat by the fire reminiscing about our 2012 trip and catching up on the seven years since last being together.

Hunting lodge evening entertainment area.

Day 2 Gemsbok hunt

Zebra was the top animal on our list this year for our hunt in Africa, and we started the day going after these.

We spotted three separate herds of Zebra this morning.

They all proved very skittish and jumpy, remaining on the high-ground running with Blesbuck, Springbuck, and Waterbuck.

A quality shot never did present itself on a lovely stallion but was an exciting start to this day. Late morning, we headed back to the lodge for brunch.

Our mid-afternoon hunt focused on another new animal for us, the beautiful Gemsbok. We quickly spotted a large herd of about 70 animals on the high plains.

Like the Zebra, they were very aware and loved to cover vast areas in a short period. This is where Nick’s expertise and knowledge came into play.

Rob and the trackers drove the Gemsbok into a valley. Nick set us up in an area he was confident they would eventually make their way through.

Gemsbok trophy taken on our African hunting trip

Our African Hunting Trip

After waiting them out, the herd began to cross back into the highlands between 200-250 yards out. Nick spotted a very impressive bull that presented itself broadside at 220 yards.

A shot of the sticks through the shoulder put the animal down in its track, and we had our 1st of 15 trophies of this trip.

We went after Kudu, Nyala, and Warthog for the evening hunt. We spotted hundreds of animals within a few square miles.

And saw numerous Nyala (including 8 Nyala bulls) feeding out in a field.

After a stalk on the animals, Nick was able to get us close to get a great look at these magnificent animals.

An extremely impressive Nyala presented itself broadside within 100 yards, where it went down, again with a shot off the sticks.

We enjoyed a fantastic dinner, dessert, and drinks back at the lodge as we discussed day three plans.

Nyala trophy taken on our South African hunting trip

Day 3 Impala hunt

We began the day by going higher in the mountains near Bedford as we pursued Kudu. The drive up in these mountains is breathtaking. Rob showed his excellent driving skills high in these mountains with amazing views.

Again, we located numerous animals but decided against going after any. We enjoyed lunch in the field and then moved to an area closer to OliveFountain Ranch, where we had a lot of success in 2012.

We shot a trophy Impala ram off the sticks from about 225 yards; again, the area did not disappoint. This shot was a little far back in the Impala, and this is where the trackers and the two Jack Russell Terriers proved their skills.

Blackjack, a two-year-old Jack Russell, quickly found the ram a couple hundred yards from the point of impact. Watching these dogs’ work is impressive. Their energy, instincts, and love of the hunt are so remarkable.

Impala trophy

Our South African Hunting Trip

In the evening, we spent about an hour glassing over a vast land area. Like the evening before, the Nyala bulls were out in astounding numbers.

Near the exact location as the night before, we spotted 15 Nyala bulls in a field and numerous Kudu & Nyala cows. We put in a long stalk as the wind and sun were in our favor and could close in to within 100 yards of many of these animals.

Nick’s ability to differentiate a very nice Nyala from a “Proper Nyala bull” was evident again. We continued to move down the field using large thorn trees as cover to identify the best animal.

We stayed until we finally got busted by some young Nyala hanging around in the thick brush as we came within 30 yards of them.

While we didn’t get anything this evening, the stalk of these animals was so impressive and rewarding in itself that we went back to the lodge with zero disappointment.

Hunting vehicle high up in the Bedford mountains looking for Kudu

Day 4 Nyala hunt

We started the morning by returning to the area where we shot the Impala the day before. As we were glassing from the top of a high ridge, we spotted several Kudu, Warthog & Impala.

A very impressive Impala came out at 270 yards and shot using the elevation to our advantage.

Following brunch, we were back on the Zebra. Again, they were very wary and covered miles of highland. Nick put us on a hillside where he felt they would eventually move.

After watching the Zebra for over an hour, they moved into a comfortable range. A shot was taken at a beautiful stallion but was missed just below 350 yards.

Impala trophy

We decided to let the Zebra settle down after this and left the area. Free-range hunting in Africa is like nowhere else in the world.

This evening we again went on to stalk the Nyala bulls in the same location they have been hanging out.

At last light, Nick spotted a beautiful shooter bull. Where we moved in on the unaware animal and closed the distance to within 150 yards.

A 2nd trophy, a nyala bull, was shot, and we headed back to the lodge after another great day of hunting.

Nyala trophy

Day 5 Zebra hunt

This was a fantastic day hunting in Africa. We spotted a beautiful Kudu in the morning among several Kudu cows.

We again went on the stalk. As we closed the distance, the valley came alive with the number of animals moving and startled the Kudu as they moved away from us.

The big bull stopped broadside from looking back on the valley, and I dropped him in his tracks at 330 yards.

We dropped the Kudu off at the lodge for caping and headed back after the Zebra.

This time, they weren’t as active as the previous days, and we shot a beautiful Zebra that stood broadside at 347 yards.

Zebra taken on our African hunting trip

Our South African Hunting Trip

We brought the Zebra back to the lodge. Because of the heat, we thought it best to have the animal skinned and placed in the cold room.

And went back into the field, chasing another herd of Zebra about an hour later.

Nick set us up in an area he felt the herd would be moving through. An opportunity at the lead stallion presented itself at 548 yards.

I placed a shot just in front of the shoulder from a prone position, and this Zebra went down on the spot.

Zebra trophy take during our African hunting trip

We were thrilled that both of us had our No 1 animal successfully taken in a 3-hour time frame.

That evening we glassed a huge Warthog with impressive ivory….again, the stalk was on.

We moved into the area of the giant pig; he came out at 215 yards and was knocked down in the spot off the sticks.

We are not sure the trackers were thrilled with our success as they had their work cut out for them having to cape/skin all those trophies in a day, but we were undoubtedly thrilled.

What a day! And to top, it all, South African hunting trip prices are very reasonable.

Day 6 The Kudu stalk

Gemsbok was the first thing on the menu for day 6. Returning to the same area where we had previous Gemsbok success, the herd was active running about in the high plains.

After making several unsuccessful stalks due to the outstanding eyesight of these animals, we were able to position ourselves under a thick thorn bush to conceal ourselves.

Rob and the trackers could move behind the herd and redirect them back in our direction. As the herd began to settle down, they crossed in front of us single file at 180 yards.

Again, Nick picked out a beautiful bull among the large herd, and another trophy was down in its tracks after a long wait for the proper Gemsbok to come through.

Gemsbok trophy

Our South African Hunting Trip

We did not take any other animals that day, but it certainly wasn’t from a lack of seeing quality animals. By this time in the hunt, we have seen at least 10,000 different animals of numerous species.

One of the coolest things happened late this afternoon. While looking for a big Warthog, we spotted a nice Kudu that will be a shooter in another year or two.

We were within 300 yards of this, and it didn’t have a clue we were there. Just for the fun of it, we decided to stalk it to see how close we could get while the Kudu was busy eating off some tree.

We slowly walked towards him, going into the wind, and got to within 35-40 yards of him before he finally spotted us. We have this stalk on video; it was a moment we will never forget.

You could see the “Oh Shit” expression on the Kudu’s face before bolting off.

I included a snip from a screenshot of the video so you can see how close we ended up moving in on this impressive animal (sorry, this clarity isn’t the best due to pausing a video).

Stalking a kudu on our African safari adventure.

Day 7 Blue Wildebeest hunt

Again, we headed back into the mountain region near Bedford, going after another new species for us, the Blue Wildebeest.

After another impressive drive through the mountainside, a herd of about a dozen Wildebeest was spotted.

We stalked into a position getting an advantage from an elevated position. We shot a great bull from a prone position off a cliff at 315 yards.

What an impressive creature this animal is!!

Blue Wildebeest trophy taken on our hunting trip in africa.

We went after a Red Lechwe in a new area on a sweltering afternoon. After spotting the herd in a thick thorn bush area, we were able to put in a long stalk and get ourselves into a position to get a shot as the herd moved through the thick brush.

Two “proper” Red Lechwe came through the opening, and Nick quickly identified the better of the two. A shot off the sticks put the Lechwe down at 230 yards.

Lechwe trophy shot on our hunting safari trip.

Day 8 Warthog hunt

The only animal left on our list was another big warthog. The warthog was the focus of our final day of African hunting.

We achieved success within 90 minutes of sunrise as we spotted a few shooters.

A successful stalk quickly followed up one unsuccessful stalk on a big pig on a different pig, which was downed from 210 yards. Warthogs…..they are so ugly they are beautiful!!!

Warthog shot on my hunting trip with Dan.

Since we still had most of the day remaining to hunt, we decided to test our long-range hunting skills on the active and elusive White Blesbok.

Our African Hunting Trip

These animals love to run and can cover great distances in such a short period. Like many of the other species we went after, they are challenging due to the fact they run in such large herds.

Nick put us in position and identified a big shooter that stopped broadside at 608 yards. After using the G7BR2 rangefinder and setting the MOA on the Nightforce scope, this White Blesbuck was hit just in front of the shoulder and dropped in its tracks.

After gutting this animal and putting it in the shade, it was round 2 with the White Blesbuck.

Again, we set ourselves up in a similar location, and finally, the herd moved in front of us, and another trophy was hit hard behind the shoulder as it was strolling at 378 yards.

What a way to end a fantastic African hunt….two 18″ White Blesbuck were taken within a couple of hours of each other.

Blesbok shot on our African hunting trip.

Finally, a few recommendations I would highly recommend for your South African hunting trip

  • Give yourself a MINIMUM of 3-4 hours for a layover between Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. We were delayed out of PLZ and barely made the plane back to the States. You will need all of that time for gun transfer, International check-in, etc…
  • Follow the recommended packing list Nick provides. Both trips I have over packed. You only need two sets of hunting stuff as they will wash and clean your clothes each day used the previous day.
  • Bring an excellent collection of optics! The eyesight of Nick and his crew is astonishing. They see stuff with their naked eye that is difficult to pick up with good binoculars. Great binoculars will make your experience much better with the amount of glassing you will be doing.
  • The majority of your shooting will be standing off of sticks. The first time I went over, I didn’t realize how much shooting would be done this way. Practice, A LOT, and be prepared to get a quality shot off in the standing position off sticks quickly.

Finally, a few recommendations

  • When you anchor an animal with one good shot, it makes everything so much better. You don’t want to spend a half-day or more tracking a trophy.
  • Bring quality bullets and know your ballistics…this will be valuable in preventing frustrating circumstances.
  • Listen to your Professional Hunter. Nick can quickly judge an excellent African animal from a great one. After two trips, every decent Kudu bull still looks enormous to me…he will promptly be able to tell you what is a shooter and what isn’t…trust their judgment.
  • Start planning your next trip after you experience your first trip as this is such an addicting experience.

I hope you enjoy the recap of another fantastic South African hunting trip experience with Nick. We have already started planning our 3rd trip over there, and we cannot wait for the next African hunting adventure to happen!

Happy South African hunting!

Categories
African Hunting

African Safari

Rob Bowker collected us from the Port Elizabeth airport for Andre’s first Africa hunting Safari. I was returning for my second African hunting Safari in South Africa with Nick Bowker.

Having had an excellent previous experience with Nick. I was keen to bring my friend Andre for some free-range hunting in South Africa.

Elephant at a water hole

Nick is an Outfitter with more than 25 years of professional experience. Both Andre and I were taking Nick’s seven animal packages.

In addition to the hunting Safari, we were combining our trip to visit the Mountain Zebra Park and the Addo Elephant national parks.

Bedford mountains

Day one visit to Mountain Zebra Park start our African Safari.

We set off for the Mountain Zebra National Park for some game viewing before beginning our African Safari. The accommodation is basic but very comfortable.

The first morning we set off for some cheetah tracking. One of the male cheetahs has a collar, as well as one of the female cheetahs. Initially, we tried to find the male, but the ranger could not get a signal four hours later. The cheetah probably was on the move and avoiding our efforts.

We changed tactics and tried to find the female. We quickly located the signal and set off on foot to try and locate her. About a 5km walk, we came upon the female cheetah with her half-grown cub. They had recently made a kill, and at about 10 meters, we could still see the blood on them.

A short photo opportunity, and then the ranger asked us to back out so as not to be too intrusive.

Cheetah tracking

We thought we had bumped into a black rhino on the way back to the vehicle.

The ranger was a bit unsettled, explaining that he had recently had a bad experience while cheetah tracking with a black rhino. We made an extensive birth and returned to the vehicle.

We returned to camp for a late brunch. Rested for a few hours and then did a self-drive around the park.

We completed a 4×4 trail in the park, which was a lot of fun.

We Saw some very impressive Eland amongst the typical array of Plains Game. Springbok, Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest and Red Hartebeest were plentiful. Just before sunset, we saw several Buffalo feeding in the thick brush close to the camp.

A great ending to the first day of our African Safari.

Mountain Zebra

Day two Springbok hunt -African Hunting Safari

Lions on the Savanna

The following day we checked out of the camp to make our way back to Olivefountain ranch to begin our African hunting safari. But first, to try and find the lions.

We had heard the lions roaring early in the morning from a great distance. Having determined the direction, we set off to try and find them. We drove to the park’s northern end and found a pride of 15 lions, which had just finished drinking.

The pride made their way across the African savanna and parallel the road for about 5km, and we followed them – what a great siting. We then exited the park and drove to Cradock for brunch.

On arrival at Olivefountain ranch, I found the lodge recently upgraded with very comfortable rooms with en-suite bathrooms. We settled in and began shooting with rifles. We used Nick’s 7mm Remington Magnum.

Springbok trophy shot during our African hunting safari

Andre had never used a sporting rifle.

Andre had never used a sporting rifle or shot an animal, although he had completed some military service early in life. Nick first had Andre on the bench with some dry firing and going through the necessary procedures.

After this, some live firing off the bench, followed by firing off shooting sticks (Tripods). Most African hunting is done off sticks because of the terrain. We set off for an evening hunt with Andre feeling good about the rifle and the basics mastered.

After a 20-minute drive to mixed scrub and savanna area where Impala and Springbuck are in great numbers, we began walking up a low valley and soon spotted a springbuck trophy ram.

We stalked the ram, and Andre made his shot. A little low. We spent a few hours following the trail, and Andre finished his Springbuck ram off. His first African Trophy. We returned to camp to enjoy dinner next to a blazing fire with a pleased first-time hunter.

Lion in the Mountain Zebra Park

Day two Day Three Impala hunt- African Safari

Up early for coffee, and we set off just after first light. This time it was my turn.

We returned to the Savanna area, parked on a flat ridge overlooking a valley, and began walking along the crest of the ridge, glassing for animals.

This area has larger amounts of Impala. We soon spotted a suitable ram and started a stalk down into the valley. I set up on the tripods and was successful – a beautiful impala ram.

We continued our walk, this time up the bottom of the long valley. Andre held the rifle, and again, not long before, we spotted another good Impala. Andre took his shot and success.

Impala trophy shot during our African Hunting Safari.

A great morning. Two fantastic Impala Rams, and we set off back to camp for brunch.

We went a little further afield in the afternoon along a long ridge interspersed with thickly bushed valleys. We were on the lookout for a good Kudu Bull.

We drove along the ridge, glassing into the valleys – lots of Kudu but no big Kudu bulls. About an hour before the last light, we spotted a good bull.

We started a long walk over the ridge and, at some point, lost sight of him as he slipped into the thick brush. We never saw him again. Not called the grey ghost for nothing.

Impala trophies

Day Four Kudu hunt

We continued our quest for Kudu and headed up to a mountainous area about a 45-minute drive away.

This area was vast, with deep valleys stretching up the mountainside of a huge box canyon.

As we drove up the bottom of the valley, we would stop every few miles and glass the big valleys running up the side of the mountain.

Landscape during our African safari

There were plenty of Kudu to be seen. The bulls we spotted were too high up to launch a stalk without being spotted.

The 4×4 tracks through the valleys and mountains were thrilling. We enjoyed a packed lunch high up in the mountain overlooking a deep valley. But no luck, and we set off home.

Hunting Africa’s most elusive trophy is never easy. We enjoyed venison back straps from a Mountain Reedbuck over a blazing fire.

Blazing fir after a day of hunting on our African safari

Day five Warthog hunt – African Safari

Up early as usual and continued our quest for the elusive Kudu. There was no luck in the morning hunt for Kudu, but Andre had managed to shoot a good Warthog.

Andre held the rifle, and we moved into an area we had not previously visited.

We began a slow walk down a creek, glassing as we went. Midway down the creek, we spotted a Kudu bull and started stalking him.

Warthog shot on our African Safari

We got to about three hundred yards, and Andre took his shot. The familiar thud and Andre made his first shot count.

The Kudu, however, did not go down, and a second shot and Andre had his Kudu and was delighted.

We began the task of loading the Kudu and getting it back to camp. Finally, I arrived at camp just before nightfall – success at last hunting Africa’s most elusive trophy.

Carrying a Kudu shot on our African safari

Day Six Black Wildebeest hunt – African Safari

The day was again; looking for Kudu this time; I held the rifle. We spotted Kudu in a deep Valley not far from camp. We started a stalk, but some cows between us and the bull set him off down the valley.

On the way down the valley, we saw some Mountain Reedbuck. I had already shot a Mountain Reedbuck earlier, so Andre began a stalk with Nick and was successful.

Black Wildebeest kill shot during our African hunting safari

That afternoon we went up higher to the plains to look for Black Wildebeest. At first, we were unsuccessful, with several ambushes not working out.

Towards evening we set up an ambush in a shallow valley. Andre and I both shot a Black Wildebeest in quick succession in the late afternoon.

Black wildebeest trophy shot on an African hunting safari.

Day Seven Blesbok hunt – African Safari

We needed to shoot two White Blesbuck as part of our hunting package.

The Blesbuck are on the open plains and often require longer shots. So, we decided to use Nicks 300 Sako Winchester Magnum.

Mounted on the 300 are a Swarovski digital range finder and an automatic holdover for the required distance.

African hunting rifle

First, some practice at targets using the range finder. All went well with our long-range shooting practice.

We drove out onto the plains where there was a large herd of common and white Blesbuck.

Late that afternoon, I stalked and shot a Springbuck on our African Safari. We set up an ambush. Both Andre and I successfully shot a white Blesbok at around the six-hundred-yard range.

Day Eight of our African Safari

My only outstanding animal in the package was a Kudu. Nick offers very competitive all-inclusive packages.

The cost of an all-inclusive seven-animal trophy hunt is comparable to shooting one Elk in the United States.

We spotted three Kudu Bulls against the hillside. On the sticks and I took my shot. Hit but not down.

Our accommodation during our African hunting safari

We moved forward and set up an ambush alongside a ravine where we saw the Kudu bull enter.

The trackers began walking through, looking for blood. But quite suddenly the Kudu came out against a steep embankment, and I was able to finish the job. A fantastic end to our hunting safari in Africa.

Sable antelope trophy at sunset

Day nine of our African Safari

We spent Sunday in the Addo Elephant park with some magnificent sightings of Elephant Lion and Buffalo before our departure to Europe.

Male lion drinking

 

Categories
African Hunting

Hunting in Africa

Armando was back with his wife Roberta for their fifth Safari hunting in Africa. Previously Armando had made hunting trips to Namibia, the Limpopo region, and the Eastern Cape.

Armando was looking for high-quality Lechwe, Nyala, Waterbuck, and Bushbuck trophies in a free-range environment.

Bushbuck shot while hunting in africa.

I was on hand to meet Armando and Roberta at the Port Elizabeth airport after their long trip from Italy to South Africa.

We made the one-hour trip back to Olivefountain lodge, where Armando and Roberta settled in. We had the traditional dinner around the fire, discussing the coming hunting in Africa.

Bushbuck hunt

Day one Lechwe hunting in Africa

We set off on a cold misty September morning to a neighboring property higher up on the escarpment, about a 20-minute drive away.

Upon arrival, we walked to a high point, began glassing, and located three Lechwe bulls down in the valley.

However, the mist was thick, and they melted away into the bush behind the fog.

The trackers stayed behind to try and locate the three bulls. We drove to the next valley, moved ourselves to a high point, and began glassing again.

We spotted a herd of Lechwe, but there was no trophy bull in amongst the herd.

The trackers radioed to say they had found the three bulls from early in the morning at around noon.

Lechwe trophy shot while hunting in Africa

We joined up with the trackers and made about a mile-long stalk. The older bull was lying behind a tree, so we had to wait around an hour before he moved.

We got into position, and Armando made a one-shot kill.

In the late afternoon we went to look for a Bushbuck and spent the afternoon walking slowly down a river bed.

We encountered several females and young rams but no older rams.

Before the last light, we found a good ram, but darkness descended before we could get into position, and we had to abandon the hunt and make our way home.

As always, we spent the evening in front of the fire discussing the hunt and making plans for the following day hunting in Africa.

Lechwe trophy

Day 2 Nyala hunting in Africa

We left early and returned to the river bed searching for the previous evening’s Bushbuck, but he was nowhere to be seen. We then went to try for a White Blesbok out on the plains. Conditions were, however, windy, and we did not manage to get closer enough for a shot.

On the way back we spotted a big Nyala bull heading into a thicket at the bottom of a big valley. After glassing him at some length, we decided to leave the Nyala and return in the evening.

Later that evening, we returned to look for the Nyala at the bottom of the valley below a big dam.

Hunting nyala in Africa.

We hid in a dry creek to see if we could spot him. After some time, we were able to find the Nyala bull just below the dam wall, and we mounted a stalk.

Midway through the stalk, some kudu cows got in between the Nyala and us, and we had to wait until the kudu moved off. We finally got into shooting range, and Armando hit a little far back.

The follow-up shot was high on the front leg. The Nyala dashed the dam embankment, and his momentum took him straight into the water, where he collapsed. A great trophy while hunting in Africa.

Nyala trophy shot with Nick Bowker.

Day three African Waterbuck hunting in Africa

In the morning, we descended into a deep valley in search of Waterbuck. Around mid-day, we spotted two Waterbuck bulls, with one being an excellent bull. We mounted a stalk.

Halfway into the stalk, we stumbled upon a sleeping Duiker, which alerted the Waterbuck bulls, and we returned to camp for brunch.

In the afternoon, we went into a new area and spotted a herd of Waterbuck with a nice bull. Armando hit him high in the front leg. Again, we mounted a long stalk.

The Waterbuck bull went over a hill, but a good blood trail was evident.

Waterbuck trophy taken while hunting in africa

We let Black Jack, the long-haired terrier go, pictured below catching an impala from our last hunt.

BlackJack is fitted with a GPS transmitter, also pictured above. Somebody can see his position on a handheld device showing the direction and how many yards away from you he is.

After 20 minutes or so, the transmitter showed Black Jack as stationary about a mile away. As we began getting closer, we could hear here BlackJack barking.

We arrived to find Black Jack having bayed the Waterbuck, which was exhausted. A well-placed shot finished the hunt.

Impala tracked down by African hunting dog

Day 4 African Bushbuck hunt

We spent the morning looking for a Warthog. After some driving and glassing, we found an enormous boar having a mud bath. However, he up and moved shortly after we began our stalk.

We decided to move back to the area where we saw the large Bushbuck. Waiting patiently while carefully glassing the area he stepped out about 100 yards to our left.

A well-placed shot from Armando and we had a fantastic trophy. This was the last animal Armando needed to complete his hunting in Africa.

Armando, a master SCI measurer, was delighted as all his trophies made the SCI qualification with ease. I explained that this does not always happen while hunting in Africa.

On the final day, Armando and Roberta spent the day relaxing at Olivefountain lodge. They also accompanied me to the great Fish river about half an hour’s drive from the lodge. A rogue hippo was in one of the farmer’s lands,s and I was setting up camera traps to ascertain the movements of the hippo. Join us for some hunting in Africa.

Categories
African Hunting

First Time African Hunt

My wife and I decided to take our honeymoon to South Africa for two weeks and were considering a first-time African Hunt. We stumbled across Nick’s website while planning.

He was one of few Outfitters offering single-day hunting outside of other excellent packages he had advertised.

We decided to take the first few days of our honeymoon for a first-time African hunt.

Nick and his brother greeted us at the airport, and we took a short 1.5-hour drive to his family farm. While I was after Kudu, my wife had never shot a rifle outside of two rounds at a target range a decade ago.

Impala trophy shot on a first time African hunt

Over the two days we were there, we finally convinced her to try some target practice with a .243 that Nick had.

After building some confidence in shooting sticks at the lodge, Nick took her on a bush hike to find Impala.

Nick could perfectly place my wife in a position to make her first kill. She looked like a natural with the shot from 143 yards.

Nick was there by her side to guide her and keep her calm. An unreal experience to be an observer and not the hunter on that day.

First Time African Hunt with Nick Bowker

His staff and accommodations were top-notch, and his fees were reasonable and competitive.

My wife and I were very impressed with Nick’s hospitality and attention to detail, especially when it came time to eat.

Our lodging was comfortable and cozy. Our food was excellent and plentiful. Wildlife on the property was abundant (no high fences either)!

I already pre-booked for an 8-day hunt in 2021 to go back. And have ample time to do a 7-animal package that Nick is assisting me with on customizing, and I would highly recommend this Outfitter to first-timers and seasoned African hunters alike.

His glassing and stalking knowledge, coupled with the crew skills and knowledge of our hunting area, made for an exciting two days of hunting in South Africa on our first African hunt.

Return to Nick Bowker after my Honeymoon Hunting Trip

Kudu trophy taken with Nick Bowker

Travel and Covid Testing for a first time African hunt

I returned to hunt with Nick Bowker after my first African hunt while on my honeymoon.

After arriving home from my 6-day hunt in South Africa last night, I couldn’t wait to post this report while catching up on work and fighting through jet lag!  

COVID Related: We had a negative test taken before we left from Charlotte, NC….they glazed over the page in Cape Town with no issues. We took a PCR test through a private company (AMPATH) in Grahamstown to leave.

First time Black Wildebeest hunt

Results were back the next day. Qatar airways reps looked over it intently, along with some scans of it attached to my check-in reservation for my departing flight. Nobody in the U.S. asked or required us to show a negative test. 

SET-UP: We landed in Port Elizabeth last Wednesday, the 2nd. We hunted through Tuesday, the 8th. My buddy and I got to experience the excitement of big plains game hunting. We took a short trip north to capitalize on a relatively unhunted piece of property.

First time african hunt with Nick Bowker

Hunting package & Taxidermy

I chose the Big Game Package Nick and worked out, including a Black Wildebeest, Nyala, Kudu, Waterbuck, and Gemsbuck. Nick was able to get me within 400 yards of each trophy for great shots through fantastic planning and stalking techniques on our first-time African hunt.

I am pleased to say I have five trophies being transferred to African Wildlife Artistry for taxidermy work. Please check out Austin Greenwood’s report. He and I hunted together. Our Kudu was shot on the same day, around 5 hours apart. On his first African hunt, he took a seven trophy package, including a blesbok.

Nyala trophy taken with Nick Bowker

After seeing some amazing Sable and Eland while over there, adding them to the list! A truly unforgettable trip. I will be booking a follow-up trip in a few years. Please reach out to Nick Bowker via his website for any follow-up if you are considering a first-time African hunt.

He offers all-inclusive and ala carte options for any trip type you could imagine for the first-time African hunt or repeat African hunters. He and his team made this trip the highlight of my year and something I will never forget.

First time gemsbok hunt