A Hunter in Paradise by Zeff Veronese

Published 2017 | RRP$49.99

I was excited when I learned Zeff Veronese was releasing a book. A Hunter in Paradise is an autobiography covering Zeff’s family history, on the one hand, and his hunting trips, on the other.

As the book’s sub-title says it is an autobiographical “collection of real-life stories” about Zeff.

I took a copy of Zeff’s book to read on a recent tahr hunting trip to the south’s Glacier Country on the West Coast and it proved to be an apt and inspirational choice.  As soon as I started to read it on the Cook Straight ferry to Picton, I knew it was going to one of those books that’s hard to put down. I was keen to keep reading it so decided to pack it into the mountains for 10 days — given the weight, that’s not an easy choice to make but it was a choice I didn’t regret because it’s a great read.

Learning a little about an author’s personal history can be interesting and Zeff has included a few chapters about his childhood and family, immigrants from Italy who often supplemented the kitchen table with small game. This background lead to Zeff progressing to being a big game hunter later in life and ultimately to chamois and tahr hunting (which, in my view, is the pinnacle of hunting in New Zealand).

Zeff is well known for his hunting exploits among New Zealand’s hunting community and is held in high regard within the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association. He is particularly famous for his alpine adventures stalking tahr and chamois.

Each chapter of this book is short and informative — many are a pithy 2 or 3 pages — and I would say converted from journals given their factual and fairly detailed nature. Using short chapters is a style of writing I like, allowing you to read a chapter here and there without needing to be drawn into a long reading session.

Zeff has done a lot of hunting and some of the locations he’s hunted with success includes both the sides of the Alps, Canterbury, the Lewis Pass, Fiordland, and Nelson Lakes areas. In his recent years Zeff has used a rifle he dubbed the “The Beast” which is a custom .30-378 caliber firing 180gr bullets. This is a serious long-range rifle and setup. Many tahr and chamois trophies have fallen to  Zeff’s gun over the years and it seems he’s shot many bags of heads of record book class. His best tahr came from the Wanganui valley, scoring 44 1/2″ DS, with its longer hook reaching 14 1/8″. Zeff’s best chamois came from  the Wilberforce valley, scoring 29 DS. With its longer hook reaching 10 3/8″, it sports exceptional bases at 4 1/8″ each. My scan of the NZDA Record Books revealed no less than half a dozen entries over the years.

There are many photos, both in colour and black & white, and Zeff seems to be a dab-hand with the camera because he took photos even during the earlier years. Given his passion for photography you can see images of the many trophy animals and heads. The many photos certainly bring his writing to life.

All in all, A Hunter in Paradise is book worth getting your hands on (and even worth lugging into the hills on a backcountry trip).

The Hunter’s recommendation is: buy it

The Hunter’s ratings are:

  • Overall rating: 8 out of 10
  • Photos and illustrations: 4 out of 5
  • Trophy quality: 4.5 out of 5
  • Writing quality and style: 3.5 out of 5
  • Page-turner status: 4 out of 5

Publisher’s blurb

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

Zeff Veronese is one of this country’s longest and most respected chamois and tahr hunters. With his incredible back country hours and hunting experiences, we are fortunate to be able to share his variety of adventures in this book, recalling his life and hunting journey. In 2014 I had the privilege to touch upon his outdoor life for the Rod and Rifles series “Hunting Legends”. That report was incorporated in the book New Zealand’s Hunting Legends, released in 2016. His prowess with a rifle and camera have been long known and achieved national recognition within the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association. The collection of absorbing tales and photographs this back country author has provided, strongly conveys honest passion for our wild places and a sincere respect for the game animals hunted.
– Kevin J. Whitelaw, New Zealand’s Hunting Legends Why do I hunt? That is a very hard question to answer. Both my grandparents were hunters and so was my father, my brothers and some of my uncles. I grew up in Italy during the war and the years after, in very tough times. However, the hunting instinct was never far away. We used sticks to kill snakes, blowpipes to shoot at butterflies and blowflies, shanghais/slingshots, bow and arrows, spears, air rifles to shoot at rats, sparrows, fish, frogs and eels.When we arrived in New Zealand, we found it to be a goldmine for a hunter and made the most of it. The first ten years we hunted mainly for meat and always had a freezer full of game meat. Mother and Father lived with us and we virtually never went to the butcher. Perhaps the last 40 years I have mainly hunted for trophies. Sometimes when in a good spot for a few days, I might see 30 or 40 animals and as they have no trophy value I don’t fire a shot but happily film the events. Hunting is still good for me because I enjoy being in the wild. Camaraderie is an important ingredient on a hunt; there is nothing better than being in a tent or a hut with friends who have the same interests and are happy to share their funny stories after a hard day in the mountains.

Bibliographic information

Title: A Hunter in Paradise: A Collection of Real-Life Stories by
Author: Zeff Veronese
Editions: 2017
Publisher: Copy Press Books, Nelson, New Zealand
ISBN: 979-0-9941471-0-3
Format: Softcover, 259 pages, colour illustrations

Book review of A Hunter in Paradise by Zeff Veronese book review