This documentary tells the epic story of helicopter deer culling in the Southern Alps. Introduced deer had become destructive environmental pests; in the 60s entrepreneurs shifted culling from ‘man alone’ to machine-driven hunting, as deer were shot then later captured alive from helicopters. Deer Wars — Top Gun in choppers, over the beech forest — revisits the heady ‘gold rush’ days, when heli-cowboys calculated often fatal pay-offs between risk and reward. It features interviews with survivors and fearsome footage of men hanging from helicopters and leaping onto deer.
There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.– A heli-hunter pilot's saying
Produced for TVNZ, as part of the Festival documentary strand
Made with funding from NZ On Air