A History of Hunting: The Deerstalkers Part 2, 1987-2012 by Ian Wright

Published 2013 | RRP$49.99

This book was published to commemorate the 75th anniversary of The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association (NZDA) and is the sequel to The Deerstalkers: A History of the NZDA, 1937-1987 (1987), which was compiled and edited by Philip Holden to commemorate the 50th anniversary – Part 2 has been 25 years in the making.

Entitled A History of Hunting: The Deerstalkers Part 2, 1987-2012, the book was edited by Ian Wright (former NZDA National President) and is a compilation of chapters written by NZDA members.

There are 38 chapters in total on many and varied topics related to hunting and the Association. Specific chapters cover each of New Zealand’s big game animals: chamois, fallow deer, red deer, rusa, sambar, sika, tahr, wapiti, white-tailed deer, wild pig, feral sheep and goat.

The book’s stated intent is that it is “an opportunity to reflect on [the NZDA’s] history, its achievements, its place in today’s society and the new opportunities the future will bring”.

I had high hopes for this book because significant and renowned outdoors authors are contributors, the likes of Tony Orman, Graeme Marshall, Roy Sloan, D. Bruce Banwell and Howard Egan, but despite this the book has not come together in a coherent manner.  The writing styles and quality vary significantly and numerous chapters need editing and revision – either due to lacking structure, being too informal or not the correct fit in the context and stated purpose of this book.

On first flicking though its pages I was surprised at the lack of photos, particularly because there are photographic competitions at both Branch and National levels each year. In the past 25 years there have been some fantastic images taken that could have been reproduced. Many of the photos that are in the book, although colour, are of a poor quality, and the chapter about photography has African plans game as the subject matter – in my view, unacceptable!

I know that there are separate NZDA big game record books, but why wasn’t more emphasis put on recording the more exceptional heads taken by members in recent years? The NZDA has access to a wealth of information in this respect and should have reached out and interviewed those hunters.

Hunting has undertaken a renaissance in recent years and I think the NZDA could have used this book as a tool to inspire non-members. An opportunity missed?

I do not want my grips to overshadow the interesting content of this book — there is lots to read and enjoy despite it not being a ‘polished’ publication.

The positives are that there are chapters written by respected authors, in addition to interesting sections on the Douglas Scoring system, establishing the Heritage Trust, White-Tailed deer and building of many hunter’s huts on Stewart Island, to name a few.

Overall, and regrettably, I can only recommend this book is purchased by NZDA members as a keepsake and, for everyone else, it should be borrowed.

For the collector, it is worth noting that the NDZA made limited edition hardcover versions as well as a softcover version for general distribution.

The Hunter’s recommendation is: borrow it

The Hunter’s ratings are:

  • Overall rating: 4.5 out of 10
  • Photos and illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
  • Trophy quality: 2.5 out of 5
  • Writing quality and style: 2 out of 5
  • Page-turner status: 2 out of 5

Publisher’s Blurb

For your information the following is the book’s blurb:

The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association is 75 years old. A milestone in any organisations history.
To celebrate this book has been compiled to show a snapshot of the Association today, how it has progressed in the past 25 years, since its fiftieth anniversary when a history of the NZDA was written by Philip Holden to mark that event, and how it looks towards the future.
Any organisation is only as strong as its membership, so members of the NZDA have written this book. Each contributor an acknowledged expert in his or her field. They have described the status of each of the large game animal species in New Zealand and their potential for tomorrow’s hunters together with a review of firearms legislation as it really is. Also covered is the massive contribution the Association is making to the education of hunters throughout New Zealand by the NZDA HUNTS programme and the building of new and modern range facilities where acknowledged experts can pass on shooting and mountaincraft skills.
In his foreword President Tim McCarthy says:
“The future of hunting in New Zealand is on the edge of entering a new phase, with the agreement of all interested parties in the hunting fraternity of New Zealand joining together to promote large game animal management of deer, tahr, chamois and pigs under the banner of the Game Animal Council. In my opinion this is by far the most positive move we have seen in the history of New Zealand deerstalking.”
It is fitting then that the NZDA takes this opportunity to reflect on its history, its achievements, its place in today’s society and the new opportunities the future will bring.

Bibliographic information

Title: A History of Hunting: The Deerstalkers Part 2, 1987-2012
Author: Ian Wright, editor, for The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, issuing body
Editions: 2013
Publisher: Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand
ISBN: 1877566357, 9781877566356
Format: Softcover, 312 pages, illustrations (some colour), 24 cm

Book review of A History of Hunting: The Deerstalkers Part 2, 1987-2012 by Ian Wright book review