Kudu Fillet and Mushroom Sauce

Kudu Fillet and Mushroom Sauce


Grilled Kudu Fillet with Mushroom sauce

800 g – 1kg Kudu fillet
5 Tbs Olive oil
5 Tbs Lemon Juice
Black pepper

Sauce ingredients:
10 g Butter
1 Punnet of sliced button mushrooms
1/2 tsp Fresh garlic
Cream of mushroom soup powder
1 Cup of Fresh Cream

Directions for the meat:
– Marinade fillet in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper for 1-2 hours
– Grill meat on the fire, basting it with the leftover marinade, until medium rare (no more than medium)
-Let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes.
– Slice the meat in 2cm thick slices.

Directions for the sauce:
– Fry mushrooms in butter until soft
– Add garlic and soup powder and stir until mixed
– Add the cream and stir until smooth consistency is formed
– Add salt and pepper to taste

Pour the mushroom sauce over the Kudu fillet and enjoy.

Serve the Kudu fillet with baked potatoes and some fresh vegetables, or even a green salad to enjoy the true aroma of the meat.


Spot-and-stalk hunting with a rifle.

Spot-and-stalk hunting with a rifle.

There are different methods when hunting with a rifle. A very effective method we commonly employ here at Matlabas Game Hunters is spot-and-stalk hunting. We drive around to locate the herds of animals or the lone rams and bulls and once they have been located and spotted, we will continue on foot to stalk within shooting distance of our quarry. For this type of hunting, camouflage clothing is not a necessity, as shooting distances average 100-150 yards and most antelope species have relatively poor eyesight. Wearing neutral colours like green, brown and khaki, is sufficient to help one blend in to the surroundings. Animals are more likely to pick up movement, than picking out specific shapes and colours. Staying downwind of your intended prey is important, as well as keeping your movements minimal when stalking.

Some other things to keep in mind when stalking up to an animal is:
• Keep close to your guide/PH. This will help eliminate the need to “catch up” to your PH when you need to make a quick shot.
• Get your rifle onto the shooting sticks immediately. One often has only seconds to make a shot, and getting onto the shooting sticks quickly, might give you the extra couple of seconds you need to bag the trophy of a lifetime.
• Watch your PH closely. Animals pick up movement easily, so knowing when to move and how to move is paramount. Watch your PH and move when he does.
• Watch your barrel. One usually walks behind your PH and often has a tracker following behind. Make sure you always point your rifle in a safe direction, especially when walking or crawling underneath overhanging branches and through thick brush.

The art of walk-and-stalk hunting.

The art of walk-and-stalk hunting.

Walk and stalk with a bow

It is a skill requires a lot of practice and even more patience.

Here are some tips on how to do it successfully:
• Wear the appropriate gear. Good camouflage is second to good technique, but will help to blend you into the surroundings so that animals don’t see you. If used correctly, camouflage can be a huge asset.
• Keep the wind in your face. Animals have a keen sense of smell and will not stick around once they get wind of you.
• Watch your step. Stepping on twigs, dead leaves, loose rocks or anything else that makes noise will alert the animals to your presence.
• Check your movement. Animals pick up movement much easier than colours, so only move when the animal is relaxed and not looking at you. When an animal has its head up and are in alert mode, your chances of being detected is much more than when it is feeding with its head down. Rule of thumb is, when an animal is looking around, don’t move! Using trees and bushes to hide your movement is also a good idea, and try not to let yourself be silhouetted against a background, or lack thereof. Also keep your movements as small and controlled as possible.
• Observe your surroundings. One often gets busted by an animal that you are not stalking, often standing off to the side where you are not looking. Most animals keep in herds which mean there are plenty of eyes, ears and noses to detect you. Stalking up on a lone animal is usually much more successful.

How to shoot a bow and arrow.

How to shoot a bow and arrow.

Learn how to shoot a bow and arrow.

Step 1: Understand that the bow will not fall out of your hand. Instead let the bow rest in the fleshy part of your hand, between the thumb and fore finger. Gently wrap your fingers around, make sure your hand is relaxed and not clenched.
Step 2: When you are holding your bow and the string is pulled back, see if you can wiggle your fingers; this will show you if they have less tension in them. If you start grabbing onto your bow, you stand the chance to increase the torque on your bow. Practice this, until you get comfortable with it.
Step 3: While holding the bow up, turn your bow arm out a little. Your elbow will be facing away from you, this helps with your form, as well as minimising bruising when the string comes flying past. When doing this, it might help to imagine you are pulling your shoulder blades together at the back. It will decrease the tension in your arms.
Step 4: When you are working on your back tension, remember that your body should be straight, not leaning to the one side or the other. You need to be able to not feel strain on your sides while pulling back on your bow.
Step 5: When you have reached your draw length, take a breath, relax in this position and get ready to pull your release.
Step 6: When you use your release, the movement needs to be a smooth, so that it doesn’t move your string or bow around. This will help to make your shot more efficient.
Step 7: Pull your release.
Step 8: After pulling the release, do not drop your bow or move your head. Keep focusing forward. See how the arrow flies through the air to your target, this is known as follow through. It helps to make sure your arrow is flying without disturbances.

The need for tracker dogs.

The need for tracker dogs.

A story about why we really need our tracker dogs.

Sitting in the blind, I start to day dream and truly relax in the tranquility.

All of a sudden there is a large wildebeest that just came to the watering hole. I continue to wait patiently. My PH tells me to pick up my bow and arrow and to get ready to shoot. I draw. My arrow leaves my bow. I am confident it was a great shot. A few minutes pass, and my PH and I get out of the hide, and start tracking my wildebeest. There is a slight blood trail, but nothing that stands out. The next moment, we have nothing. What do I do now? Sit and contemplate how bad my shot actually was? No. My PH immediately calls on the radio for the tracker dogs.

The dogs arrive with much excitement. The oldest dog has a GPS device attached to her. I was told it makes it easier to spot her and the others in the thick bush, as her little Jack Russell body can duck and dive a lot faster than what we can. My PH follows them through the bush. I stay put and hope they find my wildebeest.

Off in the distance I hear a bark. They found my animal. A few moments later a relieved PH and very happy and exhausted dogs return to the vehicle. Without their keen sense of smell and wonderful instinct, my wildebeest would have been lost forever. I will never underestimate them again. (Client with her wildebeest)

I am incredibly happy. But I will continue to work on my shot placement for my next big animal in the African bush veld.

The life giving Matlabas River

The life giving Matlabas River

The river in the Limpopo Province which is close to Matlabas Game Hunters is known as the Matlabas River.
In the Tswana language it has the meaning of “sandy river” this is due to the fact that the river is not permanently filled with flowing water.
The Matlabas River flows only for a few months in a year, just after our summer rainfall, which is during the months of October through to March. During these months the source of the Matlabas River fills up with tons of water. The source is in the western part of the Waterberg peak which is situated in the area of the Marakele National Park. Matlabas River

The Matlabas River can vary in size from year to year, as it is subject to the seasonal rainfall. As the river is not flowing year round it does not yield a sustainable amount from surface water, thus more emphasis is placed on the groundwater of the river. As the groundwater is so valuable many farmers use it for irrigation and household use. Throughout the majority of the year, when the river is dry, it might seem very dull and boring but this has its own perks. A dry river bed can be fun place to go and drive with 4-wheelers or even just to drive with a normal bakkie. The loose sand can make it an enjoyable ride for the skilled 4×4 driver and the not so skilled driver.

The lovely groundwater of the Matlabas River also enables the trees along the banks to flourish and produce much appreciated vegetation and shade in the summer months. The river also gives a place for visitors to enjoy a lovely picnic in the shadows of the luscious trees around them. The Matlabas River not only brings life to the area, but it creates many happy and wonderful memories.

Warthog’s rugged good looks.

Warthog’s rugged good looks.

The warthog is one of the less attractive species in Africa, but they are quite the amazing species. The outstanding features of the warthog would definitely be their flat face, tusks and warts; after all, that is what it’s named after.

The flat long faces enable them to still consume some vegetation while having a lookout for danger. On the elongated area of the face is space for warts to protrude.
The warts on the warthog aren’t actually warts; they are thick fleshy growths of skin. These warts are there for protection; that is why they are large and stick out drastically. They are positioned underneath the eyes as well as above the mouth; this ensures that their eyes aren’t damaged in a fight. Female warthogs have only small warts under their eyes. This is because the females do not typically fight, and do not need the same protection.

The tusks are not only used for digging up roots and bulbs for foraging; but also for defence and combat when fighting other warthogs or predators.
The lower pair of tusks, which are the shorter pair, can inflict the most damage. These tusks are sharpened every time that the warthog’s mouth opens and closes as they rub against the upper tusks. Considering that they are seen as grazers, they sharpen the tusks with ease.
When the warthog enters its burrow at night, they enter into it backwards. This ensures that they can defend themselves if something attacks them suddenly, as there strong and sharp teeth would be the first thing out of the burrow.

The next time you see a warthog, think about the purpose behind the rugged good looks.


Notes on The Mass Hysteria Surrounding the Hunting of Cecil The Lion

It was at times quite entertaining to see how journalists from around the globe offered opinion on what was probably the most notorious lion hunt in history. The mass hysteria that subsequently broke out on social media was even more entertaining. One thing was clear: few of the commentators had any knowledge of Africa’s wildlife, conservation or hunting. It was only later on that the voices of those with insight into conservation and hunting began to surface.

It is interesting that, according to one report, no one in Hwange National Park’s main camp had ever heard of Cecil, nor did anybody at the Parks Board’s head office. Perhaps he was named Cecil by a researcher from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit who studied lions in the area, but neither the local people nor the tourists seem to have heard of Cecil before the anti-hunting media went ballistic. The notion that Cecil was a famous, iconic tourist attraction is nonsense. Nor was he the tame, harmless pet that some of the media made him out to be – he was just another wild lion who was hunted with a valid permit.

Humans kill thousands of millions of animals, fish and birds annually for various purposes, legally and illegally, without a word being said in the formal or social media. It is noteworthy that the commercialised animals like cattle, sheep, goats and chickens are the world’s least threatened. So, what is so special about this particular lion? It seems that we are dealing with a socio-psychological phenomenon, at least in the western world, that is not fully understood, but that the anti-hunting fraternity has been able to capitalise on. We have seen the same type of thing when Nelson Mandela passed away and the media ran out of control in their praises for a man who was an atheist and a communist. One British journalist went so far as to compare him with Jesus Christ, apparently in an effort to portray him as worthy of being placed within the Holy Trinity. This extreme naive behaviour by the media can at times be quite shocking.  The fact that anyone can offer views, opinions and ‘facts’ on the social media, without verifying anything,  must also be contributing to some weird public beliefs. The continuous re-reporting of misinformation further compounds the problem. It would be in the hunting industry’s best interests if we learn to deal with this strange, awkward phenomenon.

The Cecil incident once again showed that animal rights activists are well skilled in using hunting incidents such as this to get publicity for their weird view of the world. They also use such incidents to attack not only trophy hunting, but the entire wildlife industry. They seem to have targeted lady hunters. In the recent past lady hunters like Corey Cogdell, Melissa Bachman and Kendall Jones had to endure extreme harassment, barrages of death threats, rape threats and threats to their families. Why the ladies are singled out for this rough treatment, whilst most of the hunters are men, remains a mystery. However, Corey Knowlton, who bought the Namibian black rhino hunt at Dallas Safari Club auction last year, was subjected to the same treatment. The hunting of Cecil the lion saw another man, Dr Palmer, being harassed and threatened to such an extent that he had to close his dental practice for some time.

An American petition to “Tell the Zimbabweans to stop issuing hunting permits to kill endangered animals” apparently attracted 1 million signatures if the anti-hunting propaganda is to be believed. Another petition calling for the death penalty for the hunter, Dr. Palmer, was also quite successful (as if mob justice has a place in civilised society!). Fact is however that lions are NOT endangered; the IUCN lists them as ‘vulnerable’ only. In South Africa there are so many lions that the country may have its lions reclassified as ‘least concern’ which means they are not threatened at all. There were also renewed calls for South Africa to ban ‘canned hunting’, but canned hunting has been illegal since 2007. In the US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) tabled a bill to ban the importation of hunting trophies. He clumsily and opportunistically tried to use “Cecil” as an acronym: Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (“Cecil”) Animal Trophies Act.

The fact that sustainable trophy hunting usually results in increasing wildlife numbers, was conveniently overlooked by most. Some (especially on the social media) simply refused to open their minds to the overwhelming evidence to this effect, dismissing it as lies and hunting propaganda. This is another phenomenon that was highlighted during the Cecil outrage: refusal by anti-hunters to accept scientific fact, or twisting the truth by adding their own spin on reality so that statements and positions taken by recognised authorities on conservation and wildlife management (such as the IUCN) are presented as if they mean the opposite of what is actually said. One such claim, for example, would be that the IUCN is dead against hunting. `So, lying, dishonesty and refusal to open up to the scientific method seems to be acceptable behaviour as far as many, if not most, of the anti-hunters are concerned.

On the morning of 24th August Quinn Swales, an experienced professional guide, was killed in the same area by an adult male lion while leading guests on a bush walk. This incident was hardly mentioned in the media. It is believed that this lion was also collared. One has to wonder whether Quinn, as a result of the recent Cecil-outrage, hesitated to use his rifle when it was obviously necessary? One also has to wonder why the formal and social media is not interested in the death of Mr Swales, but deemed it fit to go ballistic over the shooting of Cecil? This behaviour suggests that there is something fundamentally wrong in society.

But there is more tragedy in the aftermath of the ‘Cecil’ saga. The anti-hunting furore over Cecil resulted in a decline in the number of international hunters visiting Zimbabwe. This meant a loss of revenue for some villagers. They then did the next logical thing in an attempt to earn some money: they turned to poaching. When we went to Zimbabwe recently on a buffalo and elephant hunt near where Cecil was hunted, we found that 22 elephant had just recently been poisoned in Hangwe National Park. The poachers poisoned a waterhole and when the elephants died, the tusks were hacked out and the carcasses were left to rot. The vultures, jackals and hyaenas that came to feed on the carcasses then also died. Many other animals that drank from the waterhole also died. What’s more, this is not an isolated incident – poaching seems to have reached new record levels and without some drastic intervention the country may well end up with no wildlife in the not too distant future. Not surprisingly, there is nothing in the media, or on social media, about the poaching crisis in Zimbabwe or anywhere else. The silence is deafening. This is a good example of how the anti-hunting community is contributing in a significant way to the extirpation of Africa’s wildlife.

The Cecil saga once again put the usual untruths spread by the anti-hunters in the limelight. Here are a few.

Untruth: No man has the right to benefit in any way from animals. Truth: Hunting is NOT against the law or the country’s constitution, nor is it prohibited by the Holy Bible or the Koran or the Tora. I have not yet met an anti-hunter who can refer me to any authority for the claim that I do not have the right to hunt.

Untruth: Lions are endangered and this is caused by hunting. Truth: The latest estimate of Africa’s lion numbers was undertaken in 2011 and came to 32000 – 35000. In 2002 the estimate was 32000 – 38000. Although lion populations have declined it is highly unlikely that they will become extinct in the foreseeable future. The IUCN Red List thus classifies the African lion as ‘vulnerable’ only, not threatened or endangered. Conservation experts agree that tourist hunting is NOT a threat as far as lions are concerned. The IUCN ranked human-livestock-lion conflict, losses of habitat and prey base, and the bushmeat industry, as the significant threats to lion. Fact is that many, many more lions die from illegal poaching, mainly by wire snares, and retaliatory killing from rural Africans, than from hunting. Range countries that offer lion hunting carefully manage the lion hunting quotas to ensure sustainable utilisation of the resource, and lions have been subjected to hunting moratoriums in the past. In fact, so few lions are legally hunted that it has no effect at species level.

Untruth: It is a lie that hunting has any conservation value. Truth: The IUCN and leading conservationists recognise hunting as an important tool in conservation of biodiversity and eco-systems. The Species Survival Commission of the IUCN in fact published a set of hunting guidelines to assists governments (primarily African governments) to ensure that the maximum conservation benefits are derived from hunting. In the USA the Fish and Wildlife Service had the following to say: “Finally, we found that, if trophy hunting of lions is part of a scientifically based management program, it could provide considerable benefits to the species, by reducing or removing incentives by locals to kill lions in retaliation for livestock losses, and by reducing the conversion of lion habitat to agriculture. Trophy hunting, if managed well and with local communities in mind, can bring in needed revenue, jobs, and a much-needed protein source to local people, demonstrating the value of lions to local communities….the amount of habitat that has been set aside by range countries specifically for trophy hunting has greatly increased the range and habitat of lions and their prey base, which is imperative given the current ongoing rate of habitat destruction occurring in Africa. The total amount of land set aside for trophy hunting throughout Africa exceeds the total area of the national parks, providing half the amount of viable lion habitat….trophy hunting is not a significant threat to the species.”

Untruth: Hunting does not benefit local communities. Truth: This accusation is usually based on a report in 2013 that was commissioned by the animal rights organisations IFAW, HSUS and Born Free Foundation. The objective of the study was NOT to assess the contribution of hunting companies to local communities. The report had major short comings and the compilers took a small piece of Tanzanian data and falsely presented it as an all-Africa conclusion about the hunting industry. In Zimbabwe almost a thousand families depend for more than 90% of their income from hunting concession payments. The Cecil incident caused the Zimbabwe government to put a hunting moratorium on the concession where the lion was hunted. The local community made it clear that they cannot do without the income, and the moratorium was almost immediately lifted again. Namibia also has a very successful model for communal conservancies and almost all the income goes to the local community. In Zambia the Wildlife Authority splits the hunting fees 50/50 with the local communities. The anti-hunting propaganda that local communities do not benefit from hunting, is thus pure nonsense.

Untruth: Photographic tourism generates far more income than hunting tourism and is thus a better land-use option. Truth: No hunting is allowed in the national parks, they all rely on photographic tourism. These parks all run at a loss and have to be subsidised by the taxpayers. In South Africa all hunting takes place on privately owned land. Hunting is the primary source of income and these businesses receives no government support; they are financially independent. In a recent article the renowned conservationist/biologist, Dr Richard Estes, illustrated the superior returns from hunting by pointing out that a 16-day guided safari in Tanzania will cost $7,000 to $10,000, plus travel to and from the country. Hunting clients on a 21-day safari, however, can easily end up paying over $100,000! There are also other downsides to photographic tourism such as the infrastructure required and the larger carbon footprint left by tourists. The South African conservation model that allows both government run parks and reserves (where there is no hunting) as well as privately owned ranches and conservancies that rely heavily on hunting income, seems to be an optimal model. Fact is we need both for wildlife and wilderness areas to flourish.

Things We Value

Those who have not yet hunted with us, may be interested to find out what drives us in the hunting business. Well, the following things are particularly important to us:

  • Ethical hunting. We are strongly committed to ethical hunting practices whether it is rifle or bow hunting, and we subscribe to PHASA’s Code of Hunting Practices. For us, the most important aspects of ethical hunting are “Fair chase” and ensuring a “quick clean kill”. Although we only wish to hunt old bulls beyond their breeding life, we certainly do not have an obsession with the measuring tape. Hunting is not a competition or sport for the biggest or the most animals; it has a much deeper meaning.
  • Conservation. We strongly believe in “Conservation through sustainable utilisation” and that controlled, legal, ethical hunting has a major role to play in the conservation of Africa’s wildlife.
  • Family. We encourage family hunts and children are most welcome, also other non-hunters.
  • Respect. We expect hunters to show appropriate respect to everything making up the eco-system.
  • Pricing. Our pricing policy is to provide exceptional value for money. Our pricing is very competitive and is usually pitched just below the average for comparable destinations.
  • Nature of the experience. We believe a hunting safari is far more than just collecting the most or the biggest trophies. It is also about experiencing new habitat; learning about different species; exploring a different country and its history; being exposed to different cultures and cuisine; and  learning about 21st century Africa’s conservation challenges.
  • Friendship. We are not in the hunting business to make a quick buck. Hunting has enabled us to make new lifelong friends and today we probably have more friends overseas than within our own country.

Blood Lions

Those of you who have not yet watched the film ‘Blood lions’ should make an effort to see it. It is produced by anti-hunting/animal rights activists and it is useful to see what no-good the enemy is up to this time.
The title of the film is interesting; obviously an attempt to draw a correlation with the film ‘Blood Diamonds’ which is quite far-fetched.

“Canned hunting” and/or the shooting of captive bred lions (often also hand reared) in small enclosures is most definitely NOT hunting and is condemned by all hunting organizations as far as I know. It cannot be defended. The producers is however silent on this (although there are two brief comments by third parties to this effect in the film). As can be expected they rather attempt to paint the entire hunting industry with the same brush.

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