Finding Frank is a comprehensive report on one of New Zealand’s best known deerhunters and photographers: the legendary Frank Erceg.
The author embarked on tracing the life story of an uncle whom, owing to her age, she never got to know. Louise Maich’s compulsion to learn and understand Uncle Frank’s journey through life consumed some twenty years. The result is a large book complete with a wide range of interesting photographs supporting the well-presented text.
Although the original concept of the book focused on this renowned hunter, it expanded and is now more an Erceg family biography. It covers the migration of the parents from Dalmatia to the remote settlement of Aukopae in the King Country. Four sons would in future days become paid-up professional hunters, and the Ercegs would stake their claim to fame alongside the likes of Canterbury’s Thompson brothers, two names solidly implanted within our hunting history.
Gathering the required details and hunting stories featuring Frank Erceg, the author was reliant on information from friends, family and publications from the last sixty-odd years. Countless miles were travelled and numerous interviews were held with people both in town and the backcountry culminating in the collation of this fascinating and interesting report. A generous amount of information was gleaned from the contributions of several of his government deer-culling mates.
This theme continues as the reader learns how Frank’s transition to a self-employed professional deer shooter evolved and his interest in wild animal photography developed. There’s no doubt that in both fields, the subject had no peers – he was as successful with his BSA .222 as with his S3 Pentax.
Frank Erceg’s career as a shooter knew no bounds, and his exploratory journeys through the Southern Alps with rifle and camera enabled him to amass huge tallies of wild game and superb photographs; many of his shots are now iconic and continue to be extensively published.
While many of Frank’s culling days were spent in rough, remote locations, his attachment to the Otago Province remained strong. His friendship with Dave Osmers at Makarora is well described as are his jet-boating times while hunting the mighty Arawhata River Valley. It was there the infamous log cabin was built with the aid of close mates. His commercial meat-hunting experiences and living the dream on that wide, long-running valley is today legend.
Frank was tragically taken whilst recovering venison in 1965. Should he have enjoyed a longer life, it’s difficult to say what would have come next for such an inspiring adventurer.
Batemans have produced a splendid hunting book, which is divided into four parts and contains twenty-one chapters. It’s extremely excellent reading and visually enhanced by a brilliant layout of fascinating photographs from a source of camera-toting individuals.
Bateman Books, 336 pages, Hardback/Jacketed