'I'm a bounty hunter. It's nothing like what you see on TV.'

Bounty hunters. We see them portrayed in the movies and TV shows, but what's it really like to be one — to track someone down, apprehend them and risk your own personal safety in the process?

For nine years, Nic has been a bounty hunter in Phoenix, Arizona. He'd always had a passion for Jiu Jitsu and firearms training, and that led him into the world of bounty hunting — or rather its official title, being a recovery agent.

"Years ago I had a company and I was selling cannabis genetics [cannabis is legalised in the US state of Arizona]. I had someone close to me pass away and I started thinking about my own mortality. I asked myself when I die, do I want to be remembered as a well-known bounty hunter or a guy who was good at growing marijuana? Bounty hunting won the legacy conversation with myself and I started getting into it," the 40-year-old tells Mamamia

Nic vividly remembers his first day on the job.

"I literally had to fight my way into this work. The guy I was working for agreed to let me come into his office and speak with him, reluctantly. When I got there, he asked me if I was a cop or had military experience. I said no. And his response was, 'What the f**k can I do with you then?'

"I realised I needed to hit him in the face with it, and because of my mixed martial arts background, I told him, 'No offence, but I could probably kick your ass.' He laughed and asked if I could put handcuffs on his biggest guy, who just so happened to be sitting in the office that day," says Nic.

Let's just say Nic ended up earning his boss' respect... he managed to get the handcuffs on the man in the office. Within a couple of weeks, Nic was given the title of team leader.


Watch: Nic shares part of his story. Post continues below.

Recovery agents are essentially authorised and deputised by the state to act as agents enforcing the standards set by the courts. Often in the US, a bounty hunter is hired by a bail-bond company to track down a criminal defendant who has failed to appear in court in breach of the bail-bond agreement. 

Bounty hunters are allowed to carry firearms and have permits by the state to do so. 

Nic says he's pretty much on call 24/7.

"There's a lot of surveillance work. If you're good at what you do, you're always available. Then comes the fugitive apprehension aspect, it's not for the weak or faint of heart. You need to have a switch and know how to turn it on and off," says Nic.

"Taking care of people, treating them with respect and genuinely caring is also huge. When we take people to jail, we almost always get them something to eat or let them have a cigarette if they smoke. A little bit of compassion goes a long way in this world."


As for the tracking specifically, there are many ways in which bounty hunters do this. Typically, it's through private investigation tactics such as GPS monitors on vehicles, searching databases, talking to family members and examining a defendant's social media. 

Apprehension takes place in the safest way possible.

Are there kids inside the home? Who lives there? What vehicle does the bail jumper drive and where do they go? These are just some of the questions Nic and his team ask themselves. 

"The key is being fast. Get right up on them and don't give them a chance to make the situation dangerous. If that doesn't work and they barricade or run, then you have to turn that switch on and go get them. It is what it is," says Nic.

"Barricade situations are the worst. Being scared is part of the job but letting yourself be run by fear is not going to help you. Not with anything in life."

There are countless experiences that have stuck with Nic. He's stopped kidnappings, and also helped family members remove abusers from their lives.

Often family members are in a situation where they have put their home up for collateral as part of their loved one's bond agreement. If said defendant then skips their bond, the defendant's family would risk losing their home. It's bearing witness to this sort of familial pain and the toll it takes that resonates most.

"The ones that get me the most are where we actually help the loved ones who are victims to the imposing behaviour that some bail jumpers exhibit on the ones around them. I and my team see ourselves as protectors and truly like helping people. That might seem odd but we aren't looking to hurt people. We genuinely want to protect," Nic tells Mamamia.


"There was a pregnant woman who was shooting up heroin and destroying her unborn baby. She had other kids in the house and they were living in squalor. There was faecal matter on the floor, and no food. We had the kids removed and took her to jail so she would get clean. These are the type of things we see and are faced with — these situations are just endless."

Black Flag Bounty Boys, Arizona's premier fugitive recovery team. Image: Supplied.


"We also had a situation where someone tried shooting us from a closet. The guy ended up missing us and then he was shot multiple times which ended up severing his leg from his body. He actually survived and is still in prison and will be for a long time."

The crimes and/or charges of the perpetrators greatly vary, ranging from murder and rape to drug charges, gun violence, gang affiliation and fraud. Domestic violence is also something Nic sadly sees regularly.

"Domestic violence is a huge part of it and are the most gratifying cases. I personally cannot stand people who harm innocent people and act as tyrants," says Nic.

As Nic said in a recent interview with Soft White Underbelly: "There was one point where this guy was trying to kidnap a young lady. She's a mess, she's screaming, she's saying thank you so much for saving me. Then there was another encounter where this guy was beating on his pregnant girlfriend."

"It kills me how guys who victimise women and children will turn around when they're being held accountable by a bounty hunter or law enforcement and immediately start with the 'Sir sh*t.' They'll say, 'Oh sir, this f**ked up, she's done me wrong.' It always blows me away."

Nic's organisation is Black Flag Bounty Boys, Arizona's premier fugitive recovery team. Black Flag Security is another arm of the business as well and they specialise in executive protection, aka bodyguards.


Ultimately, it takes a unique type of person to want to do this work. And it's not something Nic typically shares with people he's meeting for the first time in social settings.

"I say that I'm a recovery agent and let them think about it. If they ask enough questions, then they finally figure it out but I try to keep it quiet. When they find out, there's typically an odd silence followed with questions about it but unless I feel comfortable, I don't disclose much. My guys do the same."

But to the core, Nic says he's very passionate about what he does — specifically helping people in hard places, and holding people accountable in situations. That's not to say it's easy though.

"Seeing people in a financial hard spot, trying to save their child from going back to jail and giving their last dime to try to keep them out is hard to watch. Acting as a debt collector, I don't like that aspect but it's part of the job sometimes. Or working for a bondsman who is morally corrupt... we only work for people we respect and treat people with integrity," he says.

"In this world, there needs to be people who hold others accountable especially considering the police are not always able to. We as recovery agents get a bad name from cowboys who think they are above the law, but there are guys like the ones on our team who have integrity."

You can see more from Black Flag Bounty Boys via their website here or TikTok.

Feature Image: Supplied.