After fighting a slowly deteriorating heart condition over several years, during the early morning of 9th January 2023, Dick passed away peacefully at home – just 20 days short of his 79th birthday.

Dick was the loving and extremely proud father of:

  • Richard, Daniel and Tamie;
  • Family of Corey and Dave;
  • Grampy of Cooper

I had been in frequent phone contact with Dick during the past 13 years – and as always we discussed the behaviour of the Big Brown Deer - but much more frequently over the 4 years leading up to his passing.

So I was acutely aware of the severity and deterioration of his illness, but nevertheless, when Tamie contacted me on the morning of the 9th to notify me of his passing, I was truly shocked. It seemed surreal. I could scarcely believe that this Great “Sambarman” had succumbed to his illness much earlier than I had hoped.

For six years before his health began to deteriorate, Dick had been studying and photographing the home range of one, clearly identifiable sambar stag. A man with a bent for perfection, he was putting the finishing touches to this chapter when he passed.

We had discussed this chapter frequently over the past 4 years, but during the past 12 months I had encouraged him to get it finished. To quote one of Dick’s favourite sayings I told him to “keep on punching.”

Throughout the writing of his chapter several times he asked me how many words do I want. I replied, “Dick, this is an extremely important and unique study. It’s literally ground breaking work. It will be a separate chapter in our next book so take as many pages as you need to do it justice. Don’t leave anything out. We will give it as many pages as it takes and we will give enlarge your photos for maximum effect. Rest assured we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this chapter is as good as it can possibly be.

Dick’s wish and mine was that we – Lynne and I – (Dick had enormous admiration for Lynne’s talent in book design) - would be published in our next book. On the morning of his death, Tamie found this chapter lying beside his arm chair.

Dick was a very private person, who in the words of his daughter Tamie:

“Errol, if Dad let you into his life then you should feel very proud and special, because he was an extremely private person who only allowed those into his life who he greatly respected and trusted.”

In a phone conversation several weeks before his death, during which I attempted to dig deeper into the life of this very private person, Dick responded with:

Errol, “I am a “Sambarman” – A man of the cloth. Pure and simple. There isn’t much more to know.” I would like to be remembered as such.

On Thursday 19th January, family and friends celebrated Dick’s life at a graveside service at the Eildon cemetery and later at the Thornton hotel. Eulogies were given by his daughter Tamie, his sister Robin Ashby, Peter Mayall and me.

The following is my eulogy in memory of my dear friend Dick.

“I only knew Dick for just the last 10 of his 79 years.

I first became aware of him due to seeing his amazing photos of Sambar on the cover of Australian Deer magazine in 2010 and again in 2011.

In late 2011 Lynne and I were planning to kick off our own Secrets of the Sambar & Other Cervidae magazine so I phoned Dick to ask if he would write articles about sambar for it. His answer was an emphatic YES - and the rest - as they say, is history.

After receiving his first article which we published in Issue 1 in Feb 2012, I instantly realised that not only was this man the “Master of in Close” Sambar Photography, but he was also a wonderful writer.

Over these 6 years – in all - Dick wrote 27 articles about Sambar and his Big Game Hunts in many parts of the world. All were extremely popular with our readers.

For ten years my association with Dick had only been by way of his articles and our countless phone conversations, so in 2022 I decided to meet Dick and get to know him much better, so I drove to Eildon and stayed with him for two days during which I spoke to him about his life. Tamie and his two sons joined us for lunch on the second day. That was a most memorable occasion.

During that visit I came to understand just how far Dick’s health had deteriorated over the past few years. In the months since my visit, Dick informed me that his health had slipped further. Nevertheless when Tamie messaged me to say he had passed I was shocked.

Dick was by nature an animal behaviourist – a highly intelligent man with a scientific approach. He devoted the latter decades of his life to determining the facts about Sambar behaviour. His many articles published in our magazine stand testament to his vast knowledge. Dick and I shared the same strongly held belief – “Knowledge is the Real Trophy. The pursuit of knowledge was ingrained in Dick’s DNA just as it is in mine. It’s what made both us tick, and bonded us together as close friends.

In a recent conversation Dick told me that he was a “Sambar Man - a man of the cloth.” Simple as that. I can only agree Dick was indeed a “Sambarman”.

Dick was Also “The Master of in Close Sambar Photography. In this skill he had no equal. He will be sadly missed by me and countless others.

Errol Mason, Close Friend of 10 years.

Co-owner of Shikari Press, publishers of the Secrets of the Sambar Volumes 1, 2, 3 and The Hunt Smart System and 18 issues of the “Secrets of the Sambar & Other Cervidae” journal over 6 years.

We published a total of 27 of articles written by Dick. They comprised articles about sambar which featured his outstanding “In-Close” Sambar Photographs, as well as intriguing his world-wide Big Game Hunting Adventures which were so real that the reader felt like he was there right beside Dick, sharing the same emotions whilst in pursuit of dangerous game in wild remote places.

His 27 articles were an outstanding feature of our SOTS magazine. Numerous other photos taken by Dick illustrate SOTS - “The Hunt Smart System” book – further proof of this special man’s ability with pen & camera.