In The Travelling Hunter, Vern Wilson, a hunting guide turned outdoor shop owner, recounts his experiences in being an overseas hunts “outfitter”, coordinating big game hunts for New Zealanders in North America and Africa. In his role as outfitter, Vern felt the need to conduct reconnaissance trips to his suggested regions — these trips and the trophy animals he secured during them form the basis of this book.
Vern details his 1980s hunting expeditions in North America where he sought trophy caribou, moose and Dall’s sheep in the Yukon, Canada; Wyoming for pronghorn antelope and mule deer; Montana for white-tailed deer; Idaho for mule deer; British Columbia for Mountain caribou and elk (wapiti); and Alaska for Barren Ground caribou. In Africa, he successfully hunted in Zimbabwe for Cape buffalo, sable and impala and Namibia for oryx (gemsbok) and kudu.
On each hunt Vern’s goal was to secure a representative trophy of his target species, something which he did in the ol’ “good keen man” kiwi fashion, even if his methods were at odds with the usual methods employed by his local guide — Vern preferred to take trophies according to his ethics, even if it meant doing “hard yards” or passing up a shot.
Vern’s writing style is casual and colloquial, with touches of humor thrown in. Each photo-filled chapter documents not just the hunt and kill but rather sets a detailed background scene, describes the circumstances surrounding the hunt or safari, and explains the personal relationships, encounters and interactions with locals and his guides.
As the title suggests, The Travelling Hunter is best suited to those with an interest in hunting beyond New Zealand’s shores — but despite being light on New Zealand hunting stories it remains a well paced and enjoyable read.
Vern has the reputation as one of New Zealand’s most respected trophy hunters and was included in Kingsley Field’s book The Master Hunters (1991).
If you also want to read about Vern’s New Zealand based trophy hunting days you will be interested in his first book, From Hoon to Hunter (2013).
The Hunter’s recommendation is: buy it
The Hunter’s ratings are:
- Overall rating: 6 out of 10
- Photos and illustrations: 3 out of 5
- Trophy quality: 4 out of 5
- Writing quality and style: 3 out of 5
- Page-turner status: 3* out of 5
(* Note: It scores a slightly lower rating because of a high proportion of North American and African hunting content)
For your information the following is the book’s blurb:
Vern Wilson takes a light-hearted look back at some of his more successful overseas hunting trips. Always on the lookout for that special trophy, after all, one is all you are allowed, in most hunting destinations, unlike New Zealand. And it is these differences that opened Vern’s eyes to the wider world of hunting. Good company is always a handy thing on a hunting trip, someone to share the successes and the disasters. Vern manages to find some good Kiwi “buggers” to tag along on his adventures and one irrepressible, unstoppable, and frequently frustrating American called “Dunc”. Meet the North American Indian guide who didn’t want to talk to white men, “Atilla” (the Hun) a hunting guide in Namibia, who ruins every stalk and orders everyone around and Rick the outfitter from Wyoming who tried to teach Vern how to drink cowboy style, plus a host of others. Vern and his good buggers hunt their way around North America and Southern Africa, where every adventure has it’s humorous side and the trophies are not always the animals. This is Vern’s second book; his first From Hoon to Hunter was also published by The Halcyon Press.
Bibliographic informationTitle: The Travelling Hunter: A Kiwi at Home and Abroad
Author: Vern Wilson
Publisher: Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand
ISBN: 1877566764, 9781877566769
Format: Softcover, 208 pages, illustrations (some colour), 24 cm
Book review of The Travelling Hunter by Vern Wilson book review