Hunting Under the Southern Cross by Greg Fagg

Published 2014 | RRP$39.99

Hunting Under the Southern Cross is Greg Fagg’s first book and in it Greg writes about his personal hunting trips for deer (including whitetail, red deer and fallow deer), tahr, chamois, pigs and wallabies.

Greg initially learned to hunt from his father but sharpened the hunting skills in his “tool box” as a farm hand on a South Island sheep station but, as he says, learned to “shoot” during his service in the army.

This is a book that does not cover anything particularly special in terms of its hunting, following the hunting adventures of the average ‘good keen man’. There is however one notable trophy, that of a fallow deer buck, but its ‘trophy status’ cannot be confirmed because its Douglas score and size are not provided.

Somewhat confusing was the omission of photos that were notable enough for Greg to write about snapping. There were instances were a difficult photo opportunity was explained in detail but when thumbing through the book for the photo it could not be located — why reference a photo that is not included in the book? Given that the book contains many of Greg’s personal colour photos (including some of live animals) the only conclusion is that the publisher, Halcyon Press, opted to exclude these photos.

Greg’s writing style is often clumsy, too colloquial and includes too many profanities, often in lieu of articulating thoughts or emotions. The use of an ellipsis [ … ] more than a dozen times per page instead of using correct punctuation makes the book a hard, stilted and confusing read.

Not every author is blessed with the writing skills of a Barry Crump, Tony Orman or Philip Holden and I feel that the publisher and editor have not done their jobs in helping Greg turn his hunting experiences into words. With its technical writing errors posing a distraction and coupled with its lackluster subject matter this book was, unfortunately, a struggle at times.  Dare it be said, it probably should not have been published in its current state.

I hope when Greg writes his second book, which is sure to follow, he seeks the guidance of an expert hand to help bring his stories to life.

Despite the gripes, there are highlights. The colour photos are enjoyable and were taken using film so you can appreciate those images were not simple to capture, especially when ones heart is pumping while photographing live game.  Another positive are the lessons that Greg passes on around navigation, gear, stuff-ups, and other mishaps, all of which the reader can add to their own “tool box” to avoid making the same mistake.

The Hunter’s recommendation is: borrow it, for some, and ‘skip it’ as a gift because it’s coarse language is not suitable for all audiences

The Hunter’s ratings are:

  • Overall rating: 3 out of 10
  • Photos and illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
  • Trophy quality: 1.5* out of 5
  • Writing quality and style: 1 out of 5
  • Page-turner status: 1 out of 5

(*The trophy quality is lower than it potentially could be due to the omission of Douglas scores and measurements.)

Publisher’s Blurb

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

From a hunting family Greg had his introduction to hunting at a very early age.
Later work took him up into the High Country and it often got in the way of hunting and adventure. Seeking a new challenge Greg joined the New Zealand Army acquiring some new tools for hunting; including learning how to shoot accurately. While the Army proved an absorbing vocation there was still time for the important things in life – like going hunting.
Join Greg as his travels take him over all three islands, hunting the many types of game animal New Zealand is blessed with. If you really want to test your fitness nothing beats alpine hunting for big Reds, Tahr and Chamois.
This book tells tales of success and failure with lessons learned along the way that can guide novice and seasoned hunter alike.

Bibliographic information

Title: Hunting Under the Southern Cross
Author: Greg Fagg (1972–)
Editions: 2014
Publisher: Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand
ISBN: 1877566667, 9781877566660
Format: Softcover, 176 pages, colour illustrations, 24 cm

Book review of Hunting Under the Southern Cross by Greg Fagg book review