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 two rounds at a target range a decade ago.
Over the two days we were there, we finally convinced her to try some target practice with a .243 that Nick had.
After building 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 a 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.
Return to Nick Bowker after my Honeymoon Hunting Trip
Travel and Covid Testing for the 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.
The 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 property.
Hunting package & Taxidermy
I chose the Big Game Package Nick and worked out, including a Black Wildebeest, Nyala, Kudu, Waterbuck, and Gemsbuck. Nick got 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.
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 get in touch with 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.
From Day 1, it was Hakuna Matata. Morning coffee, to scanning the ever-changing landscape for trophies.
After a grand brunch, a good nap, and great company, back to surveying the countryside for more trophies on my first hunting safari.
My firsts African Hunting Safari
A Bless Buck at 550 yards to a Warthog at 40 yards. Sneaking on a trophy Nyala only to be busted at 50 yards, to get a bigger one later. Stalking a springbuck to be spooked by pigs that came out of nowhere.
Wide-open spaces, areas with thousands of termite mounds, rolling hills, brushy valleys, and rocky cliffs, and every bush has stickers.
Nick and his PHs are knowledgeable about every animal and country; they work hard to find a good trophy and are also great teachers.
I ended up with one more trophy than stated, for a total of eight incredible animals. A lot of self-preservation, for I would have broken the bank with the variety of available animals. I figure it all for another trip.
African cull hunting offers the opportunity to shoot many animals at a very attractive price. We offer two very reasonably priced Africa hunting cull packages in South Africa as well as standard trophy hunting safaris.
African Cull hunting in South Africa is required to keep the number of animals in check to avoid overgrazing. This stems from animals having no natural predators in many parts of South Africa. Predators include lions, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs.
Cull Hunting Packages in South Africa
30 Animal African Cull Hunt Package
1 Hunter $7500
Eight days of hunting are all-inclusive for the following 30 animals. No day fee & inclusive of accommodation and meals
4 Kudu Bulls (All Non-Trophy)
4 Impala Rams (1 Trophy Ram)
12 Springbok Rams (1 Trophy Ram)
4 Warthog Boars (1 Trophy Boar)
4 Common Blesbok Rams (1 Trophy Ram)
2 Mountain Reedbuck Rams (1 Trophy Ram)
Add any Trophy Animals from our Trophy Fees Price List
20 Animal South African Cull Hunt Package
1 Hunter $6000
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)
4 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 did not care about the trophies. I could not figure out how to work it into my schedule, but my wife suggested I add it to the end of our Vic Falls trip – saving airfare money and a few days of travel.
Sometime before the hunt, Nick contacted me and asked if I was open to having other hunters in camp. I do not mind, but mostly since they were in the Army, I was okay with it.
Nicks Remington 700 in 7mm Remington Magnum, a Swarovski 3-18 x 50 red dot scope, and a tactical turret.
Animals saw: Springbucks, Warthog, Impala, Kudu, Blesbok (by order of quantity), Mountain Reedbuck, Nyala, Duiker, Steenbok, and Sable. Also, I saw a yellow mongoose and rock hyrax. I could have forgotten a few.
I didn’t know what to expect from cull or management hunting in South Africa. Once on TV, I saw a cull hunt where someone had a portable shooting bench, and the TV made it look like a shoot and stack them up.
I got the impression that it was a “lesser” form of hunting, which turned out to be the same as hunting anywhere else, except you have multiple tags, and your “trophy” has different characteristics.
We hunted by getting on the high ground and glassing and stalking and stalking down a valley when bush was thick, Setting up on an elevated rocky outcrop looking for a shot or having the trackers conduct a drive for us.
The weather was 30-40 degrees cooler than Vic Falls. You could see for miles on the open terrain, which contained valleys, hills, and draws.
I cannot share every stalk because many stalks were unsuccessful: animals spooking at 400+ yards.
Some of the South African Cull Hunt Highlights
Some days, we had so much wind I could not get stable on the sticks. So, I will share some of the highlights of the hunts.
One chilly morning we sat in a valley with three rims of the canyon six to seven hundred yards away.
The wind was gusting too much, and the sticks were impractical. We got prone on an earthen dam above the vegetation.
You could see a dust cloud where the 75 to 100 Springbok and fifty or so Blesbok were running. The animals were an impressive sight as they crossed the valley rim.
We waited until they drifted down into range and stopped running. I have no idea why these animals were running. I think they ran more than they stopped.
Nick also offers a 30-animal cull-hunting South Africa package.
What Happens on an African Cull Hunt
Nick told me to shoot a Blesbok outside of the herd. There was a very strong crosswind. Nick told me to aim almost to the butt of the Blesbok in front of it. . I’m guessing an 18-24-inch gap between the two animals.
Nick set the range on the scope, and the buck dropped in his tracks when I fired. Nick said it was at 357 yards. I thanked Nick for the guidance on the wind, and he thanked me for listening to him because most hunters would second-guess him.
We finished that morning by shooting two other Blesboks from the prone position.
Previously in Zambia, my PH Charlie Harvey talked about hunting being freedom. I felt that release on this trip. It was a state of inner peace and tranquillity. All I thought about was the hunt: I didn’t worry about bills, family, or business. All I did was hunt, shoot, eat, and sleep.
On another occasion, we were on some high ground, and the sticks were not stable enough with the wind. The floor was covered with stones with sharp edges- larger than bricks.
African Cull Hunt
I proceeded to get into a sitting position – uncomfortable, and Nick built up stones to rest. I shot an Impala at 281 yards and ran about twenty yards into the brush.
The trackers and dogs went around to drive it out of the brush or see if it was dead. The Impala shot from the brush as I was about to shoot him; I saw the long-legged Jack Russel terrier in my scope by the name of Blackjack.
Blackjack grabbed hold of the nose of that Impala and was wrestling him, stirring up a cloud of dust. Blackjack wrestled him for only a minute or so, but it was enough to wring the life out of the Impala.
There were a few occasions where I wish I had a phone scope or filmed the hunt. Blackjack wrestled a total of five animals during that week.
While out and about hunting, we saw a herd of Sables. There was a male about 44-45″. He looked phenomenal and was all I could think of for the next day.
I did not want to turn this into a trophy hunt because I would like to take more home than just the Sable, but I could not stop thinking of him until I saw a Nyala.
One-horned Nyala hunt
On our way to another area of glass, we saw a one-horned Nyala, of which I stopped and took some pictures.
On our return trip, the Nyala was still there. Nick explained that he has been messing with people for over ten years.
People would see his one horn, get excited, and then turn disappointed when they saw the other horn was missing.
Nick mentioned that he was fifteen years old and would not make it another year. I asked Nick, and he agreed to us hunting it the following day.
Returning to the area the following day, there was no sign of the Nyala. We spent the morning glassing and stalking with no success. We returned and saw him in the afternoon.
I set up on the sticks, but he never stopped running. We went back up on the high ground and walked down to the area we saw him enter.
He was visible through a break in the brush. There was a wire sheep fence in front of us.
African Cull Hunt
I know the probability of hitting a wire may be slim, but I hit a wire previously, so I did not want to take a chance.
I only fear the Internal Revenue Service and shooting through brush or wire fences.
We decided to work closer to the wire fence’s other side. In the open, some cow Nyala spooked, which was the end of the hunt for that evening.
We went back out in force the following day. One PH and a hunter were hunting for a trophy Nyala down the Nyala Valley, as I had named it.
Another PH (short for professional hunter) and hunter were done and out scouting for both of us. We did not see the one-horned Nyala, but Clinton, the other hunter, took a nice Nyala. We did not expect to see him again.
Back out in the afternoon, and there he was, standing 323 yards away in the open. I set up on the hood of the truck fired, and he ran ten yards — a great conclusion to some wonderful African cull hunting.
Data – Shots
Shots Fired: 41
Most of my misses were slightly high, especially over 500 yards. I am guessing that I am still breathing.
Number of Animals Shot: 30 (Can purchase extra animals)
Number of Animals shot twice: 1
Animals wounded and not found: 1 (tracker and dogs tracked for 2 miles; re-joined the herd)
Trackers had to finish off three animals
Range to animals shot
Average distance to animal shot: 293 yards (previously, in Limpopo, my average was 60 yards)
Farthest Shot: 504 yards
100 yards or less: 3. Closest shot 72 yards
101 yards to 200 yards: 3
201 yards to 300 yards: 6
301 yards to 400 yards, 15
401 yards to 500 yards, 2
500+ yards 1
Nineteen out of thirty animals dropped where they were shot
One animal needed a second shot
Nine animals ran an average of twenty yards once they were shot (Excluding the one wounded who got away)
The hood of the Land Cruiser to shoot nineteen animals. The hood of the Land Cruiser was my preferred position because of the stability in the wind.
Mountain Reedbuck 2
Nick had phenomenal eye sites and could locate animals without his 10 x 42 Swarovski binoculars. He was a personable, knowledgeable PH with the patience to listen to my lying hunting stories.
I became conditioned when Nick’s binoculars went to his face; my binoculars went to my face to find what he was looking at on the hill.
I don’t know if everyone does this, but I play a game and try to find an animal before the PH. He finds 99/100, but it is a small thrill to see one before he does.
With many additions, the Nicks family homestead from the 1800s was our base camp. The bedroom was large and comfortable, and we all had our bathrooms. The water was hot, and the water pressure was excellent.
The food was excellent and plentiful — no shortage of beverages. Hospitality was superb. Equipment was in great shape, including a brand-new Land Cruiser.
Review of Nick Bowker South African Cull Hunting
Mark and I highly recommend Nick’s venue for any first-timer wishing to get an excellent hunt for a fair price or those who have already hunted the Dark Continent.
I’m just back from our African hunting (Cull hunting trip) in South Africa with Nick Bowker. Hunting at Olive Fountain Ranch, south of Bedford, South Africa, with my good friend, Africa Hunters member, and hunting partner Mark.
Arriving on Saturday afternoon in Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, we had time to check the rifles and make any necessary adjustments. Nick’s bench is only a few steps from the sleeping quarters, and we were good to go after a few shots. We took the two on one twenty animal South African cull hunt and trophy package each.
In the truck and down the farm lanes, the first day was whatever opportunity arose. If it were in the package, we’d “make a plan.” Six o’clock came quickly, and after coffee and some cereal, we were set for a six forty-five departure time.
After observing the terrain and the heavier bush than what our previous trips to the Northern Cape presented, we were both somewhat skeptical about taking the list in the allotted time frame. That fear was quickly alleviated when a springbok was spotted sneaking down a hillside of acacias within the first hour. Nick suggested we circle and see if we could get in position with the sticks for a fairly close shot.
First Animal on our South African Cull hunt
We walked a few hundred meters down a hillside slowly, and we were in position. I just got the rifle settled in the Rudolph sticks, waiting for it to appear from behind an acacia bush. I see its rear quarter drop as it decides it’s time to lie down.
The acacia partially obscured it at about ninety meters. I gently lifted the sticks, repositioned them, looked back at Nick, and asked if I could take a shot. Scope set at the low power. I zoomed in to see if there were any obstructions. There was nothing in the way for a shoulder shot, I pulled the trigger, and the first animal was down. High fives, a call to the trackers, and back on the truck, stopping and glassing along the way until another potential shot was spotted.
Daily Routine for Cull Hunting Packages South Africa
Nick’s routine for cull hunting in South Africa is to hunt until eleven or so, then head back to the ranch for morning brunch, a two-hour break, then back out to another hunting area in the afternoon. With a power nap, this worked out well for both of us. I finished the day with an impala, and Mark took a springbok, mountain reedbuck, and a warthog. On occasion, for whatever reason, one of us will defer to the other, but on this hunt, we were never more than one or two animals apart.
Daily Routine and Meals
At the end of each day’s hunt, it was back to the ranch for a shower with a fresh towel, catching up on any communications via wi-fi or phone, and then over to the dining hall for some appetizers, libations, and then dinner and dessert. Laundry was done daily and returned after the afternoon hunt. Clothes were pressed, folded, and on the bed.
Except for two evenings, all barbecue-cooked dinners with venison of various stripes, lamb chops, leg of lamb, pork, and beef were served. The fallow deer backstrap shishkabobs were supreme. The meat was done to order by Master Chef Nick. Homemade desserts made by Nick’s lovely wife topped off the meal. If one went hungry here, it’d be their fault.
Side note, I’m a kombucha drinker, and with Nick’s wife making a trip to Grahamstown, I asked her if she could get some. That evening in the fridge, there were two bottles she found at a fresh market in town.
Cull Animals shot
I kept a log for each day, and my final tally was seven springboks, four mountain reedbuck, four blesbok, four impala, and three warthogs. Most animals killed in a day were four, and the least, one. The extra springbok were common rams in with the variant herd. We took them on the last two evenings. Mark was overweighted on warthogs but got twenty animals at the package price.
For both of us, we had the most fun spotting warthogs from the truck and then getting out and stalking them to within a hundred meters or closer, setting up on the sticks, and taking the shot. Sometimes we’d put in a good amount of time and distance only to be given the slip by these wily beasts, but in the end, the 28 Noslers made short work of the unlucky ones.
Last but not least, we cannot leave out their two tenacious hunting dogs, Blackjack and Bella, who, if necessary, we’re ready to track and bring down any runners who didn’t know they were on their way to animal heaven.
For any first-timer wishing to get a great hunt for a fair price, or for those that have already hunted the Dark Continent, both Mark and I highly recommend Nick’s venue.
We flew Qatar through Doha, and let’s say, no comparison with Delta, and the extra money for the business Qsuites is worth it. There is a long time in the air, and if taking firearms, the additional paperwork and time to check in but other than that, no issues, smooth sailing on both ends.
Philly was an hour and a half from when I arrived at the airport until I was through security and at the gate. I know others that didn’t have the detailed check-in, but I wouldn’t count on it. The entire process is constantly in flux, and the protocol is random, so it’s more difficult to game the system.
We were fortunate to have short layovers, four hours in Doha, and an hour and twenty minutes returning. With two security checkpoints/scans before boarding, we cut it short on the return as they were starting to board when we got to the gate at Doha for the second leg to Philly.
We got our kungfu tests in Grahamstown the morning of the day before departure and had our results by seven o’clock that evening via their app and email, which cost 850Rand or 61.13U.S.D—paid with a credit card. The only other expense was getting dinged for an extra bag by Airlink, $41.13 each way.
Traveling with Qatar
One caveat with Qatar in Joberg (usual disclaimer, this ain’t Kansas, Toto) is taking firearms to allow plenty of time for check-in and all your paperwork (4457s, copy of passport, firearm surrender form, and test results. They took photos of everything, and check-in is by committee. I don’t know about other agencies, but using Bid Air through Gracy Travel, and dependent on the time of day, you may have to stand in LONG security lines. We blew through the assisted passenger line in about ten minutes versus who knows how long in the other queue.
Arriving in Philly, a Qatar rep had our guns on a cart and met us at the baggage carousel almost when we arrived, then wheeled them over to Customs for check-in and then to the elevator for ground transportation. Overall, a pleasant and efficient experience with all Customs and TSA personnel in Philly.
What is cull hunting, and why is it needed?
Cull Hunting is required to keep the number of animals in check to avoid overgrazing. This stems from animals having no natural predators in many parts of South Africa. Predators include lions, leopards, cheetahs, and wild dogs.