First Time African Hunter

Is it legal to hunt in Africa?

Hunting regulations in South Africa allow anyone who is not a South Africa citizen to hunt while escorted by a licensed Professional Hunter. In addition, the hunt is required to be hosted by a licensed Professional Outfitter

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First time African hunter

Are you a first time African hunter. Taste the excitement of walk and stalk...

Safe under supervision of a professional. No previous experience required. It's legal, because of professional supervision. Start on the bench, work your way up to stick shooting in less than a day. You probably do not have a rifle, we have the right equipment for your skills. We offer hunting for first time hunters.

Nick has significant experience and patience with first time hunters. Nick will get you up and running on the first day of your Safari. First shooting of a bench at targets followed by shooting off sticks at targets and gongs.

Nick's approach will be to walk and stalk getting you close to your quarry before making your shot. Rifle hire and ammunition is included in the daily rate. South Africa has very friendly regulatory environment for foreign hunters.

Is it legal to hunt in Africa?

Hunting laws in South Africa

Hunting regulations in South Africa allow anyone who is not a South Africa citizen to hunt while escorted by a licensed professional hunter. In addition, the hunt is required to be hosted by a licensed professional outfitter. All professional hunters and outfitters are required to hold a valid permit. South African regulations hold the professional hunter responsible for compliance with local regulations. Nick Bowker is both a licensed professional hunter and outfitter.

First time hunters who are using licensed firearms belong to the professional hunter are not required to have any home country licenses or competency certificate to hunt in the company of a South African professional hunter.

Nick Bowker Hunting has available high end Sako and custom-made rifles as well as the latest Swarovski scopes including a Swarovski DS with a built-in range finder. Nick also has available thermal technology for night hunting for nocturnal animals such as Bush pig. Use of rifles and scopes is included the daily rate.

First time hunters shooting sticks shooting off sticks

Hunting with three-legged shooting sticks (Tripod)

Hunting with three-legged shooting sticks is universal in Africa. Most hunting in Africa is done from the standing position. A three-legged shooting stick is a tripod to rest your rifle over for support while taking a standing shot. Prone, sitting and kneeling shots are not that common. The key reasons for this are:

  • The low vegetation which obscures your target if you are not in the standing position.
  • Lying in the prone position or kneeling can be very uncomfortable or not possible because of the rocky terrain as well as thorns and other impediments.
  • In addition, shots in Africa often need to be taken quite quickly. Shooting sticks and a standing shot facilitate this.
  • The sticks or tripod will be carried by the Professional hunter who will be typically walking in front of the line followed by the tracker and then the hunter.
  • The professional hunter will place the 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 shooting sticks were homemade by the Professional hunter. These days shooting tripods are readily available and are durable and light often made of titanium.

A lot of material is available on the right methodology for using shooting sticks on YouTube. The right way is probably the one that works best for you. Buy some shooting sticks and PRACTISE A LOT WITH SHOOTING STICKS.

Here is a link to a YouTube video on shooting sticks made by Craig Boddington.

First time African hunter welcome. Sable Bull in the Savanna

Sable Bull in Bedford South Africa

Advice from a client

Finally, a few recommendations I would highly suggest to anyone:

  • 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 binocular’s. 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. 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’ their judgement.
  • Start planning your next trip after you experience your first trip as this is such an addicting experience.”

Dan Parker hunted with Nick Bowker Hunting in 2012 and 2019

See Craig Boddingtons advice on the top 10 mistakes First Time African Hunters make.

Getting to South Africa

First world airports and easy affordable travel make South Africa a convenient and trouble-free hunting destination. There are daily flights between the US and Europe and South Africa. See Getting to South Africa

You should consider using a travel agency that specializes in airfare to international hunting and vacation destinations and can assist with all aspects of your travel plans from airfare and lodging, to entry visas, firearm permits, trip insurance policies and medical evacuation services



Bringing hunting firearms into South Africa is relatively easy with thousands of Hunters bringing firearms in to South Africa every year. You do however need to be prepared. Hunters who bring their own rifles are required to comply with their local home country regulations and licensing requirements including proof of ownership. Only South African Airways (SAA) will fly your guns inside South Africa. This is very important when booking your flights. See Getting to South Africa. When travelling with firearms it is advisable to use the service of an agent in Johannesburg.

We suggest Henry Durheim. Henry will ensure you hold valid permits for your rifles while hunting in South Africa.

Henry charges $140 per rifle and will pre-register the firearms, meet you on arrival, take you through customs and accompany you to your connecting flight for an additional $100. Henry will need to be contacted at least a month prior to arrival.

If you are overnighting in Johannesburg we recommend the services of Afton Safari Lodge who also provide agency services for rifle permits. Afton charge a $100 for this service. See overnight accommodation in Johannesburg below.

The following needs to be sent to Henry or Afton at least a month in advance. See checklist below for detailed information.

  • Completed SAP 520 Form
  • Copy of Your Passport
  • Complete Flight Itinerary
  • US Customs Form 4457
  • Invitation letter from Nick Bowker Hunting

Hunting regulations in South Africa allow anyone who is not a South Africa citizen to hunt while escorted by a licensed Professional Hunter. In addition, the hunt is required to be hosted by a licensed Professional Outfitter.

Buffalo Bull in Bedford South Africa

Basic regulations for a Temporary in Transit Import Permit

  1. No more than ONE firearm or shotgun per caliber or gauge.
  2. Only 200 rounds for each permitted firearm or shotgun will be allowed.
  3. Ammunition must be packed in a separate lockable box/case and placed in your checked luggage.
  4. No ammunition for other firearms (caliber or gauge) is permitted, in other words, do not try and bring ammunition for your PH's rifle.
  5. Firearms must bear the manufacturer's serial number or any other mark by which the firearm can be identified. The identification number must be stamped and the mark affixed in the prescribed manner on the barrel, the frame or the receiver of the firearm.
  6. Handguns will be allowed into the country, but only for hunting purposes. Any foreign visitor wanting to bring a handgun into the country, needs to produce a letter from a registered association of his/her country of origin, stating that he/she is a registered member of the association and that the handgun will be used exclusively for hunting purposes.

Prohibited firearms which may NOT be imported into South Africa, includes:

  • Any fully automatic weapon
  • Any semi-automatic weapon
  • No semi-automatic shotguns
  • Handgun(s) for self-defense
  • Weapons which fall under military categories

Overnight accommodation in Johannesburg

If you need to overnight in Johannesburg we recommend staying at Afton Safari Lodge. Rooms are reasonably priced and Afton specialize in the assistance of hunters.

A VIP Meet and assist service is also offered for $100 for up to four persons. You will be met at the aircraft door, and accompanied through through Customs and baggage handling. You will then collect your rifles and be driven to Afton Lodge where you will overnight. Afton will take you back the next day to catch your connecting flight

Traveling with children to South Africa

New requirements, introduced by the South African Department of Home Affairs from 2 April 2019, specify that all minors (children under 18 years) may be required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate or passport which shows the details of both parents for all international travel to and from South Africa. Additional supporting documents may be required should they fall in a specific category. Customers are urged to obtain more information prior to travel.

Further documentation may be required. For full details please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.