Upon picking up Hunting Fallow Deer in New Zealand: The Fallow Deer Herd by Howard Egan the first thing that strikes you is the many colour photos. It takes a few minutes to thumb through these images and you soon understand that this book has been put together by someone with a true passion for fallow deer.
From the outset, it is worth pointing out that it is not solely a guide book on hunting fallow deer, as I had assumed based on the title and cover page, but rather Howard’s reflections, personal experiences and observations over his hunting and farming career of fallow deer.
There are 10 chapters in total which are interspersed with short stories of hunts for fallow deer and the like. The chapters are:
- Things you have to know about fallow
- Fallow deer country: the herds across New Zealand
- Territory: what it is and how fallow use it
- Some aspects of fallow deer – colour phases / antler development / antler scoring / headskinning
- New Zealand fallow trophies
- Social factors and habits – the family group / buck attitudes
- Weather: wind, storm, sun and feeding
- The sexes: the buck, post-rut to courting. The maternal doe.
- The fallow deer rut
- Fallow behind wire
These are the exact chapter titles, in their order.
This book feels like it comes from Howard’s heart and is written in a colloquial and conversational style — it is certainly not reminiscent of the average ‘how-to’ guide or reference book. I’m not quite sure how I feel about the style, but I think it may be divisive, appealing to some readers and not to others (especially when reading terms like “boyzone”, in Howard’s vernacular, to define bachelor groups of bucks).
It is written with a degree of assumed hunting knowledge on the part of the reader. So in order to get the most out of this book if your intention is for it to be a how-to-guide then you should consider reading some other introductory books first to get a grasp on the hunting basics and terminology. For example, you might like to read The Modern Hunter (2014) by Graeme Marshell & Don MacDonald or any one of Roger Lentle & Frank Saxton’s informative guide books: Stalking the Seasons Round: A Year-round Guide to Hunting Deer in New Zealand (1993), Red Deer in New Zealand: A Complete Hunting Guide (1991), New Zealand Hunter’s Companion (1996) and Alpine Hunting in New Zealand (1994).
My only real gripe is the lack of a map of New Zealand showing the locations of the current herds. Such a map would have been a useful aid to the reader.
Other additions which would have made this book helpful to prospective stalkers are specific details and summaries about gaining access to hunting the herds, for example, the Blue Mountains requires drawing a ballot (but you can often just call DOC the week before) and you can book accommodation from the Otago NZDA Branch at their Beaumont Lodge, or noting that the Greenstone and Caples herds have closed seasons and designated blocks. I can only assume that Howard did not want to make it too easy for hunters, a well known trait of old deerstalkers.
Overall, this is a good book about a deer species that is becoming more common around New Zealand (owing to releases) but not widely written about in New Zealand’s body of hunting literature. It will be of interest and benefit to those seeking to hunt fallow deer because Howard provides good insights, tips and tricks.
Other books about fallow deer hunting which may be of interest are The Fallow Deer: Dama dama (2003) by D. Bruce Banwell and Fallow Deer Hunting in New Zealand (1992) by Bob Pittaway.
Howard has also written Son of the Mist: The Hunting Career of Howard Egan (2013).
The Hunter’s recommendation is: buy it
The Hunter’s ratings are:
- Overall rating: 5.5 out of 10
- Photos and illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
- Trophy quality: 4 out of 5
- Writing quality and style: 2.5 out of 5
- Page-turner status: 2.5 out of 5
For your information the following is the book’s blurb:
Howard Egan — aka ‘Grandad’ on the popular Fishnhunt Forum — has been hunting fallow deer for six decades. In Hunting Fallow Deer in New Zealand he has gathered together hard-won knowledge from his years of experience to help hunters understand the species better, including the key differences between fallow deer and other deer, and how this can make their hunting more successful. Egan covers the basics of fallow deer behaviour, where the herds are around the country, what terrain fallow prefer, the habits of bucks and does — by day and by season — and how this information can help the hunter. He also looks at some of the big fallow trophies of the past and today, his experiences farming fallow and, of course, includes some of his best hunting stories. Howard Egan lives in the Wairarapa, where he farmed fallow deer for over ten years. His previous book was Son of the Mist (2013).
Bibliographic informationTitle: Hunting Fallow Deer in New Zealand
Author: Howard Egan
Publisher: David Bateman Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand
Format: Softcover, 160 pages, colour illustrations, 24 cm
Book review of Egan Howard Hunting Fallow Deer in New Zealand by Howard Egan book review