You’ll Learn no Harm from the Hills is one of New Zealand hunting literature’s great books, written by one of New Zealand’s great deer-stalkers, Newton McConochie.
Two editions have been printed, the original 1966 hardback format and a paperback version 21 years later in 1987.
Newton has written an interesting autobiography which starts by introducing the reader to his early outdoor exploits as a boy when he learned to hunt small game and pigs from his family’s small farm. At age 11 he secured his first deer by rifle, a big ten-point stag which was the heaviest he secured in his home district of Nelson for almost sixty years. The year was 1906.
Newton hunted at a time when deer were expanding their range — 1910s to 1950s. He hunted primarily the Nelson Lakes, North Canterbury (Rakaia), Westland and Fiordland regions for red deer and wapiti, but also did trips for fallow, red and white-tailed deer in the deep South. He made one unsuccessful expedition to Dusky Sound after moose and axis (chital) deer.
Comprising 14 chapters in total, there are 41 black and white photos. The most interesting photos are of the old trophy mounts, while the balance of the photos are of Newton’s pet deer, farms and their surrounds.
A snippet from the list of illustrations goes a long way to describing the quality of the trophies and journeys written by Newton:
- Alex McConochie with 15-point Rakaia trophy
- A 17-point trophy
- The beast that was too tough to eat
- 18-point trophy shot by Charlie Shuttleworth
- Two trophies in one day, Trent Saddle area
- New Zealand record trophy shot by Athol Hood
- The author’s two 18-point trophies
- Where 2,000 deer were shot
All of these deer were earned by putting in hard yards, and conducted in remote mountainous locations. Newton carried out his hunting in an ethical and gentleman-like fashion. Other than in his early years when he broke the rules due to the enthusiasm of youth, Newton placed a lot of emphasis on shooting only one trophy head and he often writes about letting massive heads walk by.
This is one book that all hunters should read. It is well crafted and easy to read. I recommend getting a topo map out and looking at the locations he mentions — the distances covered will leave you in awe of his fitness and determination.
Newton ends the chapter entitled “Down from the Hills” with these words: “My final stalk took place in my own district during the autumn of 1961 when a neat ten-pointer head fell to my rifle. So ended a long stalking period of sixty-one years with memorable days, grand comrades and my full measure of luck.”
The Hunter’s recommendation is: buy it
The Hunter’s ratings are:
- Overall rating: 9 out of 10
- Photos and illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
- Trophy quality: 5 out of 5
- Writing quality and style: 5 out of 5
- Page-turner status: 4.5 out of 5
For your information the following is the book’s blurb:
[Taken from the 2nd edition] This classic work on hunting and the outdoors, first published in 1966, is Newton McConochie’s simple but vivid record of his long and adventurous hunting life. He was born in 1891 at Glenhope Station, southwest of Nelson, and shot his first wild pig at the incredibly young age of four. During his boyhood red deer began to appear in the district and the first stag ever shot in the Hope Valley fell to 11-year-old Newton’s .531 Schneider carbine; from then on he was a dedicated deerstalker. Later he became one of the pioneer hunters of Fiordland wapiti, and also spent many shooting holidays throughout the central Southern Alps. In this book he tells of many fine trophies, splendid heads that escaped and — because of his splendid sportsmanship — many he left to live on. But Newton McConochie was first and foremost a lover of the outdoors and nature, and throughout the book there is a reverence for the beauty of the New Zealand bush, a warm disposition and gentle philosophy. A former Dominion President and Patron of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, Newton McConochie was known as the “Grand Old Man” of the sport; this book is his own record, in his own words, and the message is as true today as in his youth: “You’ll Learn No Harm From the Hills”. Newton McConochie died in 1973.
Bibliographic informationTitle: You’ll Learn no Harm from the Hills
Author: Newtwon McConochie (1891–1973)
Editions: 1966 (foreword by Temple Sutherland), 1987 (foreword by Philip Holden)
Publisher: Reed, Wellington, New Zealand
Format: Hardcover, 199 pages, illustrations, black & white photos, maps, 22 cm; 2nd Ed. soft cover
Book review of You’ll Learn no Harm from the Hills by Newtwon McConochie book review