Long established deerstalker Roger Lentle is the co-author of four previous titles on hunting in New Zealand. For over 50 years, he’s researched the habits of deer and the means of tracking or tracing them in the wild, so is well qualified to share his knowledge of the topic. His book, which has an attractive, eye-catching cover, contains 10 chapters complemented by colour photographs and detailed illustrations created by Mike Codling.
While hunting continues to enjoy increased popularity and interest from both genders, books dealing with the sport command a strong following and are keenly read, and while most publications are usually an easy reading option, this book is not – it has an extremely intense text. To better understand the author’s opinions for finding and tracking deer, I suggest it may be wise to read the book a second time!
The introduction at the front of the book forewarns that the contents are heavy in scientific analysis and evaluation, and straight away, the opening chapters toss the reader into a serious study of the feet, gait and hoofprints left by a deer – either walking or galloping. Lentle goes on to explain how to read sign from tracks and the deer’s habitual travel trails before going into more detail about a deer’s anatomy. Hunters might be quite surprised at how much information can be gathered by reading the physics and composition of soils once deer have passed by leaving imprinted hoof marks. Fortunately, though, as the pages are turned, the author’s advice for the hunter becomes more relaxed as he offers techniques and ideas gleaned from years of studying and hunting deer in the field.
Pages devoted to detailing the effects of the wind and weather while out stalking also offer good information which will increase a hunter’s chance for success when trying to track and trace deer. The process involved in spotting and scouting for deer is raised, and in Chapter 9, promotes views and thoughts on hunting beyond the bushline and our backcountry valleys.
In completing his oversight of the subject, Lentle touches on the use of technology, e.g., infrared spotting gear, night-vision sights and trail cameras. While this type of equipment is invariably used during the dark hours and aids a hunter’s ability to locate deer, most folk will pass on the practice of night shooting.
The author does, wisely, raise the issue of firearms safety and target identification.
A selection of colour photographs offers a visual supplementary overview of the book’s subject, and they include deer sign on trees and grass, images of deer tracks, droppings and habitat.
While in the process of compiling this review, I was able to listen to Dr Lentle’s interview on Radio NZ, which featured his book, and learnt that most of the images supporting the chapters were obtained using a phone camera – this explains why some of the shots could have been sharper.
Tracking and Finding Deer in New Zealand is a book offering a fresh approach for the modern-day hunter and complements earlier works by Roger Lentle. By Roger Lentle
Bateman Books , 119 pages