The Himalayan Tahr by D. Bruce Banwell & Marcus R. W. Pinney

Published 2016 | RRP$39.99

The Himalayan Tahr is the 8th and final volume of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association Inc.’s (NZDA) big game records series.

This volume was commenced by the late D. Bruce Banwell but due to Bruce’s ailing health was taken over and finished by Marcus Pinney.

Marcus is a well known and respected hunter and hunting guide. From Marcus’ home in Whataroa, Westland, he operates Wilderness Trophy Hunting so is well qualified to write about the subject of tahr.

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

There are few books dedicated specifically to this highly sought after big game species, often referred to as the “King of the Mountains or Alps”, and so it will become one of the definitive books published about tahr and tahr hunting in New Zealand.

Although well written, and in Bruce’s style and voice, this book does not seem to be quite as voluminous and thoroughly researched as other books in the NZDA big game series. However I think this is because there is generally little recorded about the species and it has not been widely written about in the early years of New Zealand’s hunting heritage, unlike red deer and wapiti hunting. The history of New Zealand’s tahr is still to be written.

Only in recent years, with the access to the Alps offered by helicopters and the introduction of the Tahr Ballot by the Department of Conservation (DOC), has tahr hunting and its trophy status come to the fore of New Zealand’s hunters’ minds. Today, a 12″ bull tahr in its full winter mane is probably New Zealand’s premier free-range trophy animal.

The real attraction of this book are the trophy photo and record sections – each of New Zealand’s most noteworthy tahr trophies are pictorially featured alongside its Douglas Score sheet and a summary of how it was shot and by whom. You can easily spend hours studying the heads and pictures.

This book is a must read for tahr hunting enthusiasts but if you want a tahr hunting ‘how-to’ guide refer to Steuart Laing’s: Tahr, 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’s hunting literature and the NZDA lives on in his influential body of work.

This book is the first by Marcus Pinney but many other books were written and compiled by Bruce, including the preceding 7 editions of the NZDA’s New Zealand Big Game Records Series — a full list can be found on the Biblography page.

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:

The late Bruce Banwell was involved with the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association since 1948. He was a member of eight different branches, president of three, executive member of four and secretary and treasurer of Southland branch. He was Training Convenor to the National Judging Panel 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 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 Indian subcontinent is also home to two of the three subspecies of Tahr. As a mountaineer as well as a hunter Bruce appreciated the skills of tahr, a very agile animal in it’s mountain 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 bush level and below in some places. He has hunted Tahr from both eastern and western side of the alpine region they inhabit, his first Tahr in 1956 was of record book quality (DS 42 3⁄4), although he has taken several more none have equalled his first.His writing appeared 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 was a member of the Deer Specialist Group of the I.U.C.N. (World Conservation Union).The Himalayan Tahr, is the eighth and final in a series of books to be written by Bruce that 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 has looked 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.This volume was completed with the help of Marcus Pinney, Marcus is a deer farmer and hunting guide based near Whataroa in South Westland.

Bibliographic information

Title: The Himalayan Tahr, Volume 8 of New Zealand Big Game Trophy Records
Author: D. Bruce Banwell (David) (1932–2013) and Marcus Pinney
Editions: 2016
Publisher: Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand
ISBN: 978-1-877566-85-1
Format: Softcover, 167 pages, illustrations (many in colour), 24 cm

Book review of The Alpine Chamois by Bruce Banwell book review