Reviews: NZ hunting books

19:36, Dec 11 2012

Reviewer Don Wright takes a look at a couple of NZ hunting books.

A Family of Hunters: Tucker Time
By Phil Tucker and Barbara Jamieson-Tucker (The Halcyon Press, RRP $35)

There is a misconception out there that game hunting is the sole domain of men. What rubbish!

Women and girls, too, are part and parcel of Southland and Fiordland's world-wide reputation as a hunter's paradise. The same applies all over New Zealand - hunting is not entirely a male bastion.

Men will also wryly remind you that women are worth their weight in gold as cooks around a campsite!

Hunting and fishing in the outdoors can galvanise a family better than most recreational pursuits. Nowhere else will parents enjoy the company of their children more than out camping and hunting rabbits, possums, wild pigs, deer and other game, also outwitting eels and trout. Nor will children come to depend more on their parents and gain the utmost respect for them than in the great outdoors. Lifetime personal and family bonds are never more meaningfully forged.


Sharing common interests is one ingredient of establishing acceptable inter-personal and family relationships. Hunting and camping together provides that catalyst.

That is the underlying theme of Phil Tucker and wife Barbara Jamieson-Tucker's A Family of Hunters that provides a fascinating insight to enjoying hunting as a family unit.

Their adventures with game animals over New Zealand, including Stewart Island, stemmed from outdoor sports and residing in and around Rotorua.

Several generations of their families have shared the love of the stalk and living off the land from grassroots level to accomplished game hunters.

Respected hunter and author Harry Bimler says in his foreword: "After reading through this documentary, I am certain it will sit proudly on all hunters' bookshelves. It is a very well written and accurate record and I thoroughly recommend the book."

Credibility is the name of the game with hunting authors. Most outdoors writers play by accepted rules but some don't.

Seemingly, there would be no better examples of credible writers than this book's authors, who are also distinguished distance runners and genuine family people.

Pack and Rifle
By Philip Holden (HarperCollins, RRP $37)

By the time of his death in 2005, Philip Holden had established himself as one of New Zealand's most prolific writers of hunting and the outdoors, with 54 published works to his credit.

The former Queenstown resident who was born in Wales in 1937, learned about hunting the hard way as a government culler and private shooter in New Zealand.

A deer culler would hunt more in a fortnight than most private shooters in a whole year. The reviewer has interviewed several seasoned cullers for books and magazines and invariably found them more credible and down to earth than some soft amateurs who have fancied themselves as hunting writers.

I liked Philip Holden's style as a bloke when I first met him on the editorial floor of The Southland Times in the late 1990s. He was pleasant, informed and not an ear basher, a man who seemed to enjoy listening as much as talking.

Many will agree that the best of his books was his first, Pack and Rifle, first published in 1971 and brought out again in July this year. The book has often been acclaimed as a Kiwi hunting classic.

Holden inspired and encouraged many hunters with his writings that told it how it was. He had already "been there and done that" when he penned Pack and Rifle. Many will also relate to his opinion that the roaring season (late March-mid April) is the best part of any hunter's year. Chapter 12 (Time of the Roar) is the standout corner of Pack and Rifle.

Sika, rusa and red deer, wapiti, goats, thar, chamois and wild pigs all feature in a book as popular today as it was in 1971.

Southland has many young hunters hungry for knowledge before they tackle the hardships and realities of hunting in the outdoors.

Pack and Rifle is a first class reference to complement experience with other seasoned hunters in the field. It will also bring back wonderful memories to veteran hunters.