The Wanderings of a Deer Hunter is an autobiography written by Don Kiddie about his time as a government employed culler in central North Island, New Zealand.
This book is a historical account written by one of New Zealand’s most accomplished hunters of his time. Don became a culler in the 1952 summer season and retired eight years later, in 1960, due to a back injury sustained by years of hard, physical labour, but not before etching himself into New Zealand hunting folk lore.
Don writes factually and insightfully about his time living and working, for months at a time, as a hunter in the back-blocks, which by the 1950s was overrun with introduced animals that were in such high numbers they destroyed native bush and competed with livestock for food, and therefore farmers’ livelihoods.
This book covers a large variety of subjects including, most interestingly, supplying camps using airdrops, hunting dogs, wild cattle, building huts, accidents, photography, and the effects of deer on their environment, so offers the reader diverse reading material.
In his early days Don worked with the infamous Barry Crump, himself an author of more than twenty books of comic Kiwi yarns, the first of which, A Good Keen Man (1960), was one of the most popular books ever published in New Zealand. Dotted throughout Don’s book are some interesting and enlightening anecdotes about Barry’s unscrupulous exploits, seemingly contrary to the laughable rogue Barry was portrayed as.
Best suited for readers with a keen interest in hunting history, and especially in the government’s deer control program, Don details his trials with 1080 poison at Oamaru Flats in the Kaimanawa Forest Park (then known as Forest 90) on sika deer and at the Caples Valley, Queenstown on fallow deer, which, in each case, were successful and formed a blue print for continued poison use in New Zealand today.
Don’s book is not your average ‘light reading’ hunting book, which is a good thing.
There has been a lot of books written on the subject of deer culling in the South Island and it is great to see a high quality book on the subject of North Island culling too.
Don is known to sika hunters because, in conjunction with the New Zealand Forestry Service (NZFS), he published a guide to sika hunting called The Sika in New Zealand (1962).
The Hunter’s recommendation is: buy it
The Hunter’s ratings are:
- Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10*
- Photos and illustrations: 4 out of 5
- Trophy quality: 1.5 out of 5
- Writing quality and style: 4 out of 5
- Page-turner status: 3.5 out of 5
*Note: The rating is skewed downward because Don was not a trophy hunter.
For your information the following is the book’s blurb:
In 1962 the New Zealand Forest Service published a 36-page booklet by Don Kiddie, The Sika Deer in New Zealand. It was the first information published about Sika deer in New Zealand and was based on hundreds of hours of observation and research from a skilled hunter. The booklet was for many years the only information about a relatively unknown breed of deer in New Zealand, which was gaining popularity with hunters as they presented a new challenge on the hunting scene. As a result he soon became known to every serious hunter in New Zealand, and the original booklet had to be reprinted several times.
From an early age don was destined to become a hunter, his ability was honed from years of professional deer culling as well as his won recreational hunting. These skills allowed him to not only take the animals he sought but also to get close enough to take nearly all of the photographs in this book without the use of modern telephoto lenses.
In this book he not only recounts his many years of professional hunting by also shares his observations of animal behaviour, the effect animals have on the bush and the changing relationship between deer, the hunters and the environment.
Title: The Wanderings of a Deer Hunter
Author: D. G. Kiddie (Donald George) (1932–)
Publisher: Halcyon Press, Auckland, New Zealand
ISBN: 1877256900, 9781877256905
Format: Softcover, 368 pages, illustrations (some colour), 24 cm
Book review of The Wanderings of a Deer Hunter by Don Kiddie book review