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The Life and Times of Jack Luttrell Book Review

The hunting community will be grateful that John Riley decided to collate the life story of Jack Luttrell, retired hunter, farmer and collector. Riley has captured his journey in print, thereby ensuring this legend’s full life is on record – the reticent, unassuming Jack was never going to do a book on himself, so it was up to a gentleman like Riley to make it happen. However, recording Jack and his tales was no easy mission and required the assistance of several others – who know the subject well – before the ultimate book was produced.

Within the realms of New Zealand hunting history, Jack Luttrell is highly respected and cherished; some of his exploits as a professional deer shooter and sporting trophy hunter have been the subject of earlier authors’ endeavours.

This book, comprising about two dozen short chapters, is the result of personal interviews with the man himself providing recollections of his life and times.

Masterton-born Luttrell has lived his entire life within the Wairarapa’s rural precincts of Waiorongomai, Western Lake and Featherston; the family farm was a portion of the Waiorongomai Station where, in his later life, Jack served as farm manager for many years. His childhood days at Western Lake are touched on with some mention of his introduction to BB guns and hunting small game.

The accompanying pictures, however, give insight into an interesting hunting period which evolved years later; during his backcountry days, Jack was perceptive enough to carry a box Brownie camera, and this meagre piece of apparatus preserved many moments of his skin-hunting days. All the photographs contained in the book add a huge lift to the text and are well explained, accompanied by appropriate descriptions; they’re fairly randomly placed and in no particular order. On the conclusion of his deer-shooting experiences in South Westland’s Landsborough Valley, Luttrell moves to the Fiordland wilderness – a tract of hunting country he develops a great deal of respect for and where he succeeds as both a hired shooter and trophy hunter.

In 1949, the joint New Zealand-American Fiordland Expedition included the legend as a shooter; readers will enjoy a good summary of this trip which includes photographs of the personnel, plus the field work this team undertook in Caswell Sound and its environs. It was during this period of the halcyon days of Wapiti hunting when Jack recalls how he bagged at least two special wapiti bulls, one being a record 17-pointer.

Over the years, a wide variety of game animals, many of them trophies, fell to this sportsman’s rifle; there are many tales of hunting red and sika deer, chamois and tahr.

Few can equal the wide-ranging talents of Jack Luttrell as a collector of memorabilia. He’s a well-known collector of Paradox cartridges, books, duck decoys and bird calls, and his passion for chasing these items is clearly divulged, as is his long interest in ornithology.

Special friends are also commented on, and during this gentleman’s lifetime, there have been many. It’s refreshing to learn about some of those people, predominantly shooting companions like Jim Ollerenshaw, Fred Stratford and Colin Davey, to name a few – accounts of their subsequent adventures enhance the book offering more interesting reading.

Throughout Jack’s lifetime, his involvement with agriculture has been huge – he remembers the hard work required in land development of his own property at Kiwitea and during a long stint at Waiorongomai as station manager. His respect for his beloved working dogs while on the farms is fondly recalled, and there’s also reference to his position as a highly regarded studmaster of Romney sheep and Angus cattle.

His involvement with the Wairarapa Gun Club also provided Jack with good friendships and bouts of social relaxation, with this eagle-eyed, clay-bird shotgunner at one stage bagging the Australian Single Rise Championship Shoot while participating in team shooting in Australia. His prowess with the ‘shottie’ was also well aimed at Canada geese and paradise ducks which he seasonally hunted for decades.

The closing pages of the book pay respect to his wife, Gillian, and their family. Jack Luttrell’s long and interesting life is well-documented and shared with us after being deservedly recorded by John Riley and Jack’s friends.

Price: $55.00 + $5 Postage. 154 pages

Available from: Jofre1943@gmail.com

Compiled by: John Riley

Published by: John Riley & Bob Badland

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