Peter Ryan has released his second book, Hunting New Zealand: Parts Unknown.
When I finished reading his first book Wild South (2013) a few years ago I knew that Peter was a special outdoors writer –– thoughtful, insightful and talented in his prose. So when I learned that he had Parts Unknown under draft I eagerly awaited its release.
Well, it didn’t disappoint.
Once again, Peter has managed to capture in his writing the many aspects of hunting and shooting which will often leave you nodding in agreement as you read.
One short chapter that particularly resonated with me was about the Swazi Tahr anorak raincoat. I purchased my own Swazi Tahr using money I really didn’t have spare at the time after I came off a mountain wet and miserable from wearing a cheap plastic parker, and I’ve never regretted it. However, unlike Peter, I’ve never walked by my Tahr and taken a sniff of it (yet), as he confesses, but seeing it on the coat-hook sure brings raw memories of a hunt to the forefront of my mind. I’ll never get rid of mine, ever. He sums up these types of ‘objects’ well when he says “there’s something about them that’s more than business. They speak of hard work, big hearts and love of country. They’re not just things“.
I’m quite sure no other book reflects on guns — rifles, cartridges, and shotguns — that define the New Zealand shooter in a way that this book has. Peter has pretty much hit the bulls-eye (pun intended) with his chapters dedicated to a special set of firearms that have influenced New Zealand’s hunting culture. He writes about:
- .303 Lee Enfields, chapter entitled, “Three Oh Three”, as they’re known as.
- 7×57 Mauser / .275 Rigby round vs 7mm08, under the title “The Magnificent Seven”
- Sako Vixen .222
- Winchester Model 70
- Browning A5
- Tikka T3
- Beretta A400
Looking at that list, you can learn a lot, and you can see why Peter’s books are so captivating. They’re well thought out, well researched, and well reasoned, just like that list. A bit for everyone, old and new.
As with all of Peter’s articles and so too with his stories in this book, accompanying them are many professional photos and illustrations, both of live animals and trophy images. Mostly they are black & white but the best images are printed on colour plates. There are also photos from other photographers, some historical and others more modern but all interesting and relevant. There is the odd classic advertisement reproduced too.
I don’t want to under emphasize the great hunting yarns in this book, there’s plenty of those, but unlike other books in the genre it is all the other ‘fill-in’ chapters that set Peter’s book apart from the crowd. There are stories about sika, red deer, tahr, chamois, ducks, pheasant, wild pig, fallow, wapiti and others — it’s all there. (Peter even managed to get some fly-fishing yarns in too, but I won’t hold that against him.)
I was struggling to summarize this book when it occurred to me that Peter set out its premise in his Author’s Note, and I extract a modified verion here:
“The reason for this book — to take a fresh look at the game, the people and the craftsmanship that make New Zealand hunting what it is. This book has no wild tales on Peter’s part — the last thing the world needs is yet another ‘me-me-me’ book. Instead it’s a salute to those experts Peter’s had the privilege to know, and to the many across New Zealand he’s never met. This is an impressionist’s view, a picture formed from the highlight here, a shadow there.”
Peter also includes chapters contributed by other respected hunters and writers, including Shaun Monk, Howard Egan, Daryl Crimp, Ken Tustin, David Jacobs, Daniel Peat, Greg Duly, Per Jacobsen, and Bruce Worthington.
In summary, Parts Unknown comes highly recommended by me. It’s another modern classic.
You can learn more about Peter, this book, and his first book at Peter’s website, Faraway.
As mentioned, Peter also wrote Wild South (2013). Peter Ryan’s writing and images have been published in books and magazines around the world, including Gray’s Sporting Journal, Sporting Classics, Field Sports and Sporting Rifle. He is a columnist for Fish & Game New Zealand and Dallas Safari Club’s Game Trails. Peter’s books are also available in e-book and Kindle formats.
The Hunter’s recommendation is: buy it
The Hunter’s ratings are:
- Overall rating: 8.5 out of 10
- Photos and illustrations: 4 out of 5
- Trophy quality: 3 out of 5
- Writing quality and style: 5 out of 5
- Page-turner status: 4 out of 5
For your information the following is the book’s blurb:
Based in New Zealand’s stunning South Island, Peter Ryan’s writing and images have been published around the world. In Hunting New Zealand — Parts Unknown he pays tribute to the game animals, people and places that have made New Zealand famous as one of the last great hunting adventures. It’s a glimpse into the drama of roaring stags, tahr and chamois high in the haunting Southern Alps, and friendships made hunting gamebirds in stunning locations. With tales of nostalgia and adventure, including some from the most talented people on the Kiwi hunting scene today, Hunting New Zealand is for those whose hearts belong in wild places. Peter Ryan has hunted across New Zealand and Australia, also in Africa, Europe and the Americas. His first book Wild South — Hunting & Fly-fishing the Southern Hemisphere launched to critical acclaim. He lives in North Canterbury, close to his beloved Southern Alps, with his wife Vanessa, son James and daughter Holly. His writing and images have appeared in some of the world’s best hunting magazines.
Bibliographic informationTitle: Hunting New Zealand: Parts Unknown
Author: Peter Ryan (1965–)
Publisher: Bateman, New Zealand
Format: Softcover (dustcover), 208 pages, illustrations (some colour), 24 cm
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