The Alpine Chamois by D. Bruce Banwell

Published 2013 | RRP$44.99

The Alpine Chamois is the 7th and most recently published volume in the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc.’s (NZDA) big game records series. This volume is written and compiled by D. Bruce Banwell.

As the cover suggests, this book details New Zealand’s chamois hunting and documents the best chamois “heads” shot in New Zealand.

Bruce, rightly so, points out that the majority of New Zealand hunters pronounce chamois as “shammy”, while the correct pronunciation is “sham-wah”. Thus the tone of this book is set — an academic summary of chamois in New Zealand.

Split into four broad sections, the book comprises of detailed descriptions, distribution and taxonomy of the species in their natural European ranges; general observations on chamois behaviour, characteristics and health; introduction and acclimatisation of chamois to New Zealand; and record book New Zealand chamois “heads” as measured by the NZDA.

There is no doubt that this book is the definitive book published on chamois and chamois hunting in New Zealand. As you would expect from Bruce, this book is well written and thoroughly researched, even correcting historical inaccuracies of earlier books on the subject.

In my opinion, the most interesting section was the chronicling of chamois’ introduction to the South Island’s Southern Alps. Initially released in the Mt Cook region during 1907 from stock sourced in Austria, hindsight seems to suggest that New Zealand was fortunate that the species was successfully introduced. Another highlight are the 15 ‘best’ chamois trophies shot in New Zealand. Each trophy is pictorially featured alongside its Douglas Score sheet and a summary of how it was shot and by whom.

This book is a must read for chamois hunting enthusiasts.

It is worth noting that the focus of The Alpine Chamois is not to provide a ‘how-to’ guide on hunting chamois, so those wanting a book of that nature should read Steuart Laing’s Chamois, A New Zealand Hunter’s Handbook (2009).

Sadly this is the last book Bruce will write, having recently passed away. Bruce’s contribution to New Zealand hunting literature and the NZDA lives on in his influential body of work.

The other books written and compiled by Bruce for the NZDA’s New Zealand Big Game Records Series are:

  • The Red Deer, Part II, Volume Six (2011)
  • The Red Deer, Part I, Volume Five (2009)
  • The Rusa, the Sambar and the Whitetail deer, Volume Four (2006)
  • The Fallow Deer, Volume Three (2003)
  • The Wapiti and the Moose, Volume Two (2001)
  • The Sika, Volume One (1999)

The remaining New Zealand big game animals to be documented in the series are tahr, feral goat, wild sheep and pig.

A complete synopsis of Bruce’s contribution to the NZDA and New Zealand’s hunting literature can be read below in the Publisher’s Blurb.

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: 5 out of 5
  • Writing quality and style: 3 out of 5
  • Page-turner status: 3.5 out of 5

Publisher’s blurb

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

Bruce Banwell has been involved with the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association since 1948. He has been a member of eight different branches, president of three, executive member of four and secretary and treasurer of Southland branch. He is Training Convenor to the National Judging Panel for which he is responsible for the training programme. 
His study and previous hunting of deer has found him in almost every corner of New Zealand where deer are found. His research into this animal as a species has taken him to the majority of deer range of the northern hemisphere from Ireland and the Hebrides, across the Eurasian Continent to Manitoba in Canada and many parts of Asia. The European and Asia Minor areas are also home to the various subspecies of chamois. 
As a mountaineer as well as a hunter Bruce can appreciate the skills of chamois, a very agile animal in its alpine environment. When he first started hunting them in New Zealand they were almost exclusively an alpine animal unlike today where they have spread down to sea level in some places. Whilst he has hunted chamois in both Canterbury and Westland he has never taken a chamois of presentable quality, although he has been present on several occasions when his companions have secured trophy bucks.
His wanderings in Europe and Asia Minor have taken him to most of the chamois rangelands stretching from Spain across the Continent as far as the Caspian Sea, including the Pyrenees, European Alps, the Apennines, Balkan Ranges, High Tatras and Lesser and Greater Caucasus, regularly sighting and observing chamois while researching into the various forms of Red deer.
His writing appears regularly in journals and magazines here in New Zealand, and other overseas countries, including regular contributions to the British Deer Society’s journal, Deer. He is a member of the Deer Specialist Group of the I.U.C.N. (World Conservation Union). The Alpine Chamois, is the seventh in a series of books that will eventually form the official N.Z.D.A. record series, covering the top trophies taken in New Zealand for all game animals recognised by that organisation. Each work will look at the origin, liberation, spread and establishment, present status, location and how to hunt information, as well as listing all known trophies and their Douglas Score statistics as recorded by the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association.

Bibliographic information

Title: The Alpine Chamois: (Rupicapra, Rupicapra, Rupicapra), Volume 7 of New Zealand Big Game Trophy Records
Author: D. Bruce Banwell (David) (1932–2013)
Editions: 2013
Publisher: Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand
ISBN: 1877566292, 9781877566295
Format: Softcover, 254 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates, illustrations (some colour), 24 cm

Book review of The Alpine Chamois by Bruce Banwell book review