Monday, 1 May 2017

A 1930's Album of Deerstalking in the South Island of New Zealand

A collection of "Trophy" Red Deer Antlers including a Stag's Head
and antlers in centre with an impressive 7 x 7 (14 point) trophy head.

British settlers first liberated red deer in the South Island of New Zealand during the latter part of the 19th century, firstly near Palmerston in Otago in 1871 and then in the Rakaia in 1897. The herds gradually spread to cover much of the New Zealand high country. While protected by law until 1923 the sheer numbers of deer and the damage they wreaked to the delicate New Zealand high country tussock lands and the erosion this caused led to the ending of such protection. By 1932 "game seasons, licences, bag limits and other restrictions were dropped. The scene was set for a war against the ‘deer menace’." They were now firmly declared "noxious animals" and deer stalking and shooting became a popular sport. My family and their friends enjoyed going on deer stalking expeditions and I can recall the impressive multiple pointed stag antlers hung up in my father's old barn, having been shot by him, mostly up the Eglinton and Lillburn Valleys around Fiordland.

Friends At Camp.
Bill Andrews appears standing at rear in the centre.
Note the clothes laid out to dry and the small barrel
which I suspect would be "something stronger"

By the 1920's trophy hunting had become a very popular sport. The photographs shown on this blog appear to cover the 1930's period, at least to 1938. All I know is that these images, not all being shown here, were collected by the late William (Bill) Lowe Andrews of Heddon Bush in Southland (died 1941 aged 59 years) and placed in a small album. Many of the photos have his name on the back. I don't believe any of my family were actually on these particular hunting expeditions but the album was found among old family photographs after my late uncle's death in 1982. Perhaps it was given to my family after Bill's death as both had been neighbours and good friends and I am fairly certain that my father and Bill would have gone deer stalking together on occasions as they obviously shared the same passion. Bill appears in at least one photo shown above but does not seem to appear in any photos taken in the mountains so may have taken a less active role by this stage, perhaps just helping out at the campsites.

Men and Pack Horses with at least one trophy head

Unfortunately the locations of the most of the photographs is not recorded. My guess is that some do relate to Fiordland but also some taken up in the high tussock country of Northern Southland or inland Central Otago. One photograph is dated 1938 and marked "Mount Cook" which is almost invisible away in the distance across the jagged peaks of the Southern Alps. I believe most of those showing snow country would be taken at the same time, probably up one of the alpine valleys south of Mount Cook. Based on the photo a mountaineer might have a better idea of exactly where this might be taken.

Up in the High Tussock Country.
Deer on the Ridgeline?

Culling of the Red Deer population as a form of sport is still very popular today, being a necessity in order to alleviate high country erosion with considerable damage to tussock lands as well as native forests. Government sponsored culling effectively ceased in 1987 and Regional Deer Stalking Associations assist in regulating this sport [Link].

A 6 x 6 (12 point) Trophy Head.
Note the ammunition belt  

A High Country Canvas Tent Campsite

"Mount Cook" (almost invisible on the horizon)

Hunters Surveying the Snow Capped Mountains in the High Country

A Tarn or Mountain Lake Formed by Glacial Activity

Crossing a boulder strewn stream in the mountains

Spot the Deer

Up in the Mountainous Snow Country

A nice 6-pointer

Time for a snack and a cuppa

A Trophy Head up in the Tussock Country

Boiling the Billy's for a Meal at a Tent Camp
(possibly Bill Andrews on the right)

A Good Collection of Trophy Stag Antlers at the end of
a hunting expedition. Is the lady a resident of the house?

Sources :

- Family Photographs (held by the writer)
- Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
- The New Zealand Deer Stalkers' Association. Inc.

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