Student Hunter: The Hunting Tales of a University Student by James Morris

Published 2012 | RRP$29.99

Student Hunter: The Hunting Tales of a University Student is a short autobiographical book covering James Morris’ hunting trips over a period of three years while he studied at the University of Canterbury.

James’ hunting experiences were made up of many weekend and “uni” holiday hunts embarked upon with fellow students, flatmates and ‘Huntsoc’ members. Huntsoc was a university society (club) formed by students which James joined.

Each chapter is fairly short and often broken into sub-parts. There are a smattering of colour photos of James with his downed quarry and a few nice images of live animals too.

James targets red deer, tahr and chamois on his hunts, often with the goal of filling the freezer of a poor uni student. However, there are a few notable animals harvested: a 12-point red deer stag from the Canterbury hills, a decent 13 1/2 inch bull tahr, and some representative 9-inch class chamois bucks.

The Horace Walker valley, one of the few South Westland back-country areas accessible by helicopter, was written about fondly. He visits that valley a couple of times seeking tahr.

This book is well edited, having had input from many people (as listed in the Acknowledgments) including well known writers Brendan Coe, Graeme Marshall and Greig Caigou.

The way James recounts how he conducted some hunts left a lot to be desired and will ruffle the feathers of hunting purists.

One of my peeves is the over use of onomatopoeia when describing rifle reports, and in this book “booms” and “boo-ooms” are frequent enough to be distracting.

In summary, this book is best borrowed.

As a final thought I wonder if James and his book’s antagonist, Ryan, are still hunting companions?

The Hunter’s recommendation is: borrow it

The Hunter’s ratings are:

  • Overall rating: 4 out of 10
  • Photos and illustrations: 3 out of 5
  • Trophy quality: 2 out of 5
  • Writing quality and style: 1.5 out of 5
  • Page-turner status: 1.5 out of 5

Publisher’s blurb

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

Student hunter is about the three years the author spent as an undergraduate student at University of Canterbury. Hunting and exploring the hills of Canterbury and South Westland. Living as a poor student, money was always a limiting factor. Harvesting meat was reason enough to spend every last dollar on petrol to head out of Christchurch into the hills. Most of the more than 100 hunting trips undertaken in those three years started with a note or a txt passed between mates during a boring lecture where a wandering mind always ended up in the hills, much the same as it still does today.
“Hunting is in my blood, always has been. Ever since I can remember I have hunted however I could. My earliest memories of hunting are memories I share with my Grandad. I would join him whenever the opportunity arose to go and shoot a rabbit or trap cats and ferrets in the haysheds scattered around the family farm I grew up on. During my high school years I was introduced to big game hunting which sparked a love for not only the animals but the adventure, places and people I met wherever my hobby took me. My time was never more mine, and never more invested into hunting as it was recently when I found myself at university; organising my own way in the world. I enjoyed my days as a student living like no other period of my life and I am glad I made the most of it. Recording the hunting I did in those years has been a great project because although the memories are fresh now, I know once life in the real world kicks in they will fade into only distant dreams of a past life.”

Bibliographic information

Title: Student Hunter: The Hunting Tales of a University Student
Author: James Morris (1985–)
Editions: 2012
Publisher: Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand
ISBN: 1877566233, 9781877566233
Format: Softcover, 136 pages, colour illustrations, 24 cm

Book review of Student Hunter by James Morris book review