Deer Culling days

It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone- Hans F Hansen


“I’ve had a gutsful of this bloody caper.  I might throw the game away after the next season or so”

All pro hunters at one time or another

The Venison Hunters”- Mike Bennet

In the days when there was a real Department in charge of animal   control














I feel very privileged to have learned all my hunting skills whilst being in the employ of the NZFS.  The three to four years spent with the dept., amounts to a lifetime of deer hunting experience in itself.   In the Kawekas for example in the two plus years I was there I hardly ever saw a private hunter abroad much less a tramper.  We had it all to ourselves and the hunting was marvelous.  One particular trip I remember had me completely alone for four weeks without sighting another human being.

They were all 6 week trips in the Kawekas as opposed to the 4 week ones in the Tarries.  when I asked Russel why, he reckoned it took you 4 weeks to get properly fit and at one with the environment.  So why not let the department benefit from the two good weeks that remain he used to intone.   You know something that fella knew a thing or two!

This page is hampered by the lack of photographic  history.   Although carrying a small camera at all times I regret now not using it more

Marvelous Keepsake

The Impressive 100 page “Deer Culling Memories” photo book











This album is a one of a kind and with over 370 photos from across the culling eras and regions of NZ.  A treasured keeps sake reflecting past to present deer culling operatives throughout NZ.

A limit of one book per N.Z.D.C. member applies

Steve at Tussock hut with Toby



















Me and me best mate at Tussock hut..we were a good team


Steady boy its only a camera.














We got hit by a 3 day blizzard while we were at Te Puke and so Max and I decided it was time to stretch our legs.  The very young Glen Soroko took the photo.

there is a story that goes with this one….

Max on active Forest Service duty

 “Where do you aim for, Steve?”

“Anywhere in the eye son. Anywhere in the eye”

[ The Venison Hunters – Mike Bennet]

Andy……….sadly missed

NZFS “All my worldly possessions”

Toby not looking comfortable perched up on the woodshed at Tussock alongside my Sako Vixen .222 and the tails so far for the trip. He was a helluva dog and eventually went to a good home with Warren Dykes in Ekatuhuna

Keen as mustard

I might have had a sweater in my pack but basically all I was wearing was what I needed for a six week trip. It is a little different today eh?

Fixing radio aireal at Otutu Bush

The single most important thing to be done when reaching a new hut apart from the obligatory cup of tea was to string out the radio ariel and listen to Raelene Ramsay who was working in the Hawkes Bay at the time. Fantasy Island!!

Posing somewhere with camp meat

Looking back on it all and I had a feeling even then that I might not see another Spring in the Kawekas

Sight seeing at the Boyds Airstrip

Sometimes you needed a break and what better way to spend the afternoon than to journey out to Boyds and watch the planes come in and out….the equivelent of going to the seaside.

Paul Clarke NZFS……somewhere in the Kawekas

Ken Atkinson NZFS with dog surveying his domain

Paul Van der Voorte kindly butchering my deer on our way to a flycamp

A pair of deadly Sako Vixen .222 cal. clearly shown in the above picture.

Kevin Rankin NZFS relaxing after a successfull day at Maungahuka

Andy Marden NZFS mooching along ..always laid back..good ole Andy

Ian Roberts & Earl Marshall NZFS taking a breather atop the main range Tararua F.P. after a climb from Mid Wiohine

Dave Pratt NZFS considers his environment

Selwyn Turnwall NZFS displays his muscles at Te Puke

Russell Hulme checking one of the Airdrops for the season

I must say the food drops were good value and a good variety. Our fridge was a rubbish bin full of flour and we would have cheese and bacon and other goodies buried deep and easily survive to the end of the season. Pretty exciting too delving deep and not knowing what you would find next.

Toby being brave this day and crossing the old Ngaawapaura bridge other times he would ford the river

I don’t remember their being any mesh sides on this bridge that being the case it is quite a hairy walk for the ole dog.

Forgotten what pack it is but the rifle is a Mauser 270 cal. model 2000 with Pecar Berlin 4x scope

Kawatau river Western Ruahines /It was a wet miserable day and much later on the river taught me a lesson I never did forget.

That good ole Tararua NW forming just after dawn

Will get a few hours in hunting before the worst of it hits methinks……………….NW clag foaming over Marchent ridge

Goat shooting somewhere in Opotoki

I did lower my sights at one time and spent a little time chasing goats for a living

A much loved dwelling the hunting was always good

Mind you I did spend 10 consecutive days in torrential rain here when I misplaced my dawg Jake and whenever I hear rain on a corrugated roof it takes me back in an instant

Home for some of the good years

This photo was taken before my time.  When I look back on it all I never did take enough photos, ok we didn’t have today’s tech. but still.  Memories after all are all we have at the end of the day and we tend to forget all but a handful of them-photos sometimes bring back the ones we do let slip.


Me and max toward end of season 2- Kaweka ranges

I think we were on our way out when this photo was taken. We were late for end of season celebrations and we still had the main range to negotiate yet. No time for photo calls really!

Meat sorted - should keep the dog happy

Somewhere in the hills on NZFS duty and securing meat for stay.

I’ll just nip down to the supermarket and pick up some meat- dya want anything?

Took these guys on a flycamp. Two Johns I remember one was Harpman I think

I appear taller than the two private hunters. If you look carefully I am making the most of some high ground- thinking all the time!!

On the way out of the Haurangis- making a living -always with a rifle

One of my favourite hunting spots of all time in the Haurangis being productive as it always was. Not strictly speaking a culling photo- but back in the day anyway.

Gawd knows when but the shepherd whistle gives it away that it was the Kawekas

Found a photo the details lost with time.

Toby cooling off on a hot summer afternoon- the day is just beginning

We always did the evening shoots in the Kawekas as the weather was so stable. Different story south of there though

Eastern side of the main range Kaweka country

It had been a long day and still a couple of hours to go. End of season trek to civilisation Earlier in the week I had said to Ken  “Nah no way is it going to snow- we’ll leave it till the last day”…..Yeah well…sorry Ken.

The height of summer in the manson country and the dog is a reluctant poser.  “No time for photos boss- where is the water?”

I must have been smelling like a deer what a waste … I will have to start all over again!

This wasn’t a regular occurrence but man  when we made the effort it was pure heaven


Early in the season and it would have to be the early eighties too- the dog is Max and it looks like the climb from Ballard in the Kaweka Ranges



My Aussie mate “Toby”- shoulda called him Bruce but there ya go- as you can see by his grin he loved hunting.  We were high above the Ngaruroro river.


My mate has made the brew washed the dishes and is just about to attack the wood pile with the axe- caught in contemplative mood.-Venison Tops


He would often go to this point and wind the deer when we were making our way back from the Mangatainoka head waters.  It was the time of day when I most appreciated the white in his tail- he would lead me home in the dark every-time without fail


Alpha Hut in the Tararuas.  The green Bivvy is where NZFS kept its mattresses and food.

Locked of course!  The orange rope is the radio Ariel.



Despite the sun tan cream the bread must have been baked the day before in crap weather is my guess- and I am sticking to it as well!!!- looks like the old office steps at Te Pukeohikarua- Kaweka country.


I would say poaching in the Golden Hills…………………shhhhhhhhhhh


Me and ex. wifey posing outside the Manson- seems a very long time ago.  She flew in from Boyds in the last week of my six week trip and we were making our way out- a couple of steps ahead of Russel methinks.     That looks like Pratts rifle propped up against the hut too- Browning auto in .308 if I remember rightly.

The detective in me leads me to believe he must have taken the picture!!!


Me and the dog about to leave Mangatainoka hut- Ed Bright is behind the camera.  he is going downstream and we are going upstream to Tussock


Boss is away and I am in charge- Look out!-note the ole Vixen getting all photogenic on the front bumper.  It is winter and we are up on the Comet range.  Pratt, myself and the late Andy Marden.  They were considered not photogenic enough to be included in this picture.


Chopper landing by the tarn at Maungahuka with hut refurbishment gear- Tararuas



Dropping off the main Kaweka range- gawd knows where- “Mad Max” is the dog sometimes known as Max-A -Wellicans …….as with most German Wirehaired dogs [I have owned 3] that I have experienced ……they are a mixture of sublime graceful pointing lines and pathetic grovelling and overly timid yet paradoxically also quite headstrong personalities too.  I would not get another one for love nor money on balance…… I am hard enough to live with as it is being born under a Gemini star sign!!!!!


Ed Bright preparing to go his own way at Mangatainoka hut.  Ed was number 2 at Kaweka whilst I was there under Wally Drayton.


Winter hunting the Burns range; I have been dropped off via the landcruiser for my days work


Dave Pratt giving the new boy the third degree- note the box being kicked gently?

A psychologist would have a field day.  Russel oblivious to it all and sorting the food drops for the coming season.


Pratt and Turnwall having an intellectual discussion with my camp meat.  Perhaps they thought they could get more sense out of it than they would me….who knows?


Quoin Ridge-Tararuas- scene of my mishap.












Paul-Roupee Vandervourt NZFS and his mate Fran outside Ngaawaparua hut-Kaweka F.P. Another Sako Vixen user

NZFS meal time

Me and Toby preparing the evening meal at Te Puke.  Judging by all the empty boxes lying around leads me to think that the seasons food drop has just been unpacked and put away.