Secrets of the Sambar
Volume 1 (Revised Edition)

EXTREMELY LOW STOCK - When this book hit the shelves way back in December 2006, within 9 months we had to reprint it and now we have revised it twice and reprinted it 3 times. Now almost 17 years later we are almost out of stock yet again. But we shouldn't be surprised because back in 2006 when it was first released unsuccessful Sambar hunters suddenly became instantly successful after reading this book. Jump to Reviews



Over the past 18 months of Travel Restrictions & Lockdowns there has been an unprecedented demand for the 4 books in our Secrets of the Sambar Series. During this period we have sold countless more books than at any other time during the 15 years we have been publishing them. As a result our stock has become significantly depleted. However, due to the doubling of international shipping times and cost, combined with increased printing costs, we cannot guarantee availability once our current stock is sold.

THE Definitive Guide to Sambar
Biology, Ecology, Behaviour & Hunting Strategies

Due to great demand we have revised, updated and redesigned Secrets of the Sambar Volume 1 the first book in our trilogy (Hard cover - A4 format - 256 pp).



Discusses the releases of Sambar in Victoria; when, where and how many, plus details about the Bunyip and Pendleside enclosures. Pages 12 and 13 has a double page enlargement of an aerial photograph which has been skilfully overlaid with the exact location of stags taken by my clients, plus other features discussed in this book.

Bunyip and Pendleside Enclosures

These two enclosures were developed for the express purpose of studying Sambar biology, ecology and behaviour. Details about each have been provided.

History of Sambar in Victoria

Drawing on the book, An Introduction to the Deer of Australia" by Arthur Bentley (the late), plus minutes of meetings of the Acclimatisation Society of Victoria for the years 1861 to 1891, everything known about the importation of Sambar, including country of origin; where and how many were released. Their dispersal and current range since being released approx. 170 years ago has been included.

Why Sambar are Revered

Quotations from books by British Infantry Officer Lt Col. A.I.R. Glasfurd and Conservator of Forests, India, A.A. Dunbar Brander, describes the elusiveness and hardiness of Sambar and the exceptional degree of difficulty in "bringing a trophy to bag." Their opinions are supported by Australian Sambar hunters and statistics from the Game Management Authority (Victoria) which reveal the extremely low success rate for local Sambar hunters.

Understanding Sambar Behaviour

Using many analogies with humans, that I am certain you will instantly identify with, this chapter makes understanding Sambar behaviour easy.

Antler Comparison for Ceylonese, Malayan, Indian and Victorian Sambar

Measurements of Sambar antlers from each of the above countries are included in tables, revealing the length they reach in each. Measurements are provided for a few exceptionally long antlers from India, one of which exceeds 50 inches in length. A table shows Australia’s Top 75 Sambar Trophies.

Antler Development

Drawing on the three best scientific text books on the subject, plus detailed studies of antler development of captive Sambar stags in the Bunyip and Pendleside enclosures in Victoria, and Orissa in India, the development of antlers in Sambar (and other Cervidae) is clearly explained. Revealed is the annual increase in length; the age at which antlers attain maximum size; the age at which they begin to atrophy; the time taken to grow from casting until rubbing out, and the months the majority rub out, plus the role testosterone plays. Includes a table which shows details of the antler cycle of 5 Sambar stags in the Pendleside enclosure for the period 1975 to 1980.

Antler Casting

Drawing on the three best scientific text books on antler development, plus detailed studies of antler casting by captive Sambar stags in the Bunyip and Pendleside enclosures in Victoria, and Orissa in India, the months in which the majority of stags cast is revealed, plus how many days apart each is cast. The role testosterone plays in casting is also explained.

Australia’s Top 4 Stags & How They Were Taken

Includes full colour enlarged photos of each stag, plus highly educational stories as to how 4 of Australia’s Top Sambar Stags were taken. Includes Geoff McPherson’s and Phil Minogue’s 34 inch plus monsters; David Ingpen’s stag with antlers as thick as fence posts and Ian Lovell’s very even, heavy, Shanghai topped 32 incher. The calibres used by these hunters also tell a story.


Includes full colour photos of Sambar hinds and stags at various stages of development. The live and gralloched weights of three spikers, hinds and several mature stags is provided.

Social Behaviour

The following subjects are discussed. The usual number in a family group; large nocturnal aggregations; are stags solitary; expressions of social intolerance; observations of the behaviour of a family group made over 6.5 hours; why stags follow hinds; information about each class of sambar, plus a table which lists the various social classes.


Research into signposting by deer biologists and sex pheromones is combined with "in the bush" observations, the role that rub trees, wallows, preaching trees play in the Sambar’s dominance hierarchy and breeding system is revealed, plus when and how a hunter can exploit these key points of interest.

Response to Weather

The weather determines what Sambar do and where they do it more than any other factor, including hunting pressure. The aspect and elevation which each weather type causes them to spend the day is clearly explained. When this knowledge is overlaid on the hunting area it narrows down where the deer are going to be to just 10 per cent of the total forest.

Stalking Tips

These two pages of tips and tricks can be the difference between success and failure.

Tracking & Interpreting Sign

This 14 page chapter includes photographs of a stags 4 hooves and a hinds 4 hoofs which show the difference in shape between front and rear hooves, left and right hooves, the difference in width between front and rear hooves and the difference in size for a spiker, a mature stag and a mature hind. This vital knowledge enables you to know if you are looking at the tracks of a spiker, a mature stag or a hind. Includes photos of fresh tracks of a mature stag, and tracks that have been rained on. The width of the front and rear hooves of a spiker, a mature stag, a mature hind, a mature fallow buck and one week old Hereford calf is provided. Includes photos of fresh sambar stags pellets, their size and shape and how they differ from those of a mature hind. Explains how to determine if pellets were dropped that morning, 2 days ago, 3 days ago or longer.

Hunting From Face to Face

This chapter uses an actual hunt as an example as to how to hunt from face to face. I was guiding Bob Wilson when we spotted a trophy stag in his bed, but we had to obtain a better shooting angle so we moved to a much better position from where Bob killed him with one shot. The tactics used to find this stag are discussed, as is the equipment which is essential for this type of hunting.

Farm Fringe Tactics

Includes vital information about the behaviour of farm fringe Sambar and tactics for hunting them. Tactics for varying levels of hunting pressure - low to heavy - is discussed, as is how to use low impact tactics to quickly identify crossing points which can be ambushed and how to set up an ambush including the essential equipment. Preferred types of forage are discussed including nutrient content and the stage of growth when each is preferred.

The Stormy Weather Stag

When John Harvey arrived for his guided hunt a cyclonic wind was sweeping through the forest. So I took John to a hide I had prepared for precisely these conditions. Within 20 minutes of sitting in the hide John harvested his first ever trophy sambar with a single shot. It measured 28.5 x 28.5 inches. The reason the evening before a severe cold front is about to hit is a great time to hunt is explained, including the locations this type of weather drives Sambar to, and how to find and hunt these special spots.

Response to Cattle, Sheep and Horses

Reveals the effects of sex pheromones on cattle, sheep, horses and Sambar and other Cervidae, plus the areas grazed by cattle and sheep where Sambar will eat and will not eat. Discusses the effect of horse and rider on Sambar and vice versa, and the interaction between Sambar and brumbies.

Aiming Points & How Bullets Kill

Draws upon research revealed in the books written by Kevin Robertson, an African Professional Hunter and veterinarian, plus New Zealanders Bruce and Matt Grant, which reveals how in biological terms, particular shots actually kill large ungulates such as antelope, buffalo and deer. Whilst guiding I used this knowledge to coach clients and the result was that regardless of calibre - 270 Win. all the way up to 375 H&H - with just one exception, all shots were one shot kills. Aiming points to achieve "The Perfect Shot" from various angles have been overlaid onto photos of mature Sambar stags.

Cartridges & Projectiles

Reviews all the popular cartridges and projectiles for hunting sambar. Includes the "killing effect" of various calibres and various types of projectiles on mature Sambar stags up to 340kg live weight. Projectile types are broken down into three groups. Those with non-controlled expansion features; those with controlled expansion features and solid copper. In particular this chapter busts the myth that high muzzle energy and/or magnum velocity is necessary to instantly kill the biggest Sambar that ever walked the earth with just one shot.

Rifles & Scopes

Discusses how to obtain the maximum accuracy in any rifle; correct rifle set up including the correct length of pull; the correct height for mounting a scope; overall balance and weight. Points out that a silent, ergonomic safety catch is vital, as is a Safari Sling and a bright scope. Explains why a German # 4 is the perfect reticle for Sambar. The difference between controlled feed bolt actions and push feed bolt actions is explained. Instructions for breaking in a new rifle barrel and how to clean it are included.

After The Shot

Points out that every Sambar shot at must be treated as being wounded, even though it ran off without showing the slightest sign of being hit. Everything you must do from the moment the animal runs off, until you recover it, is covered in detail. This includes the sign that a wounded sambar typically leaves at the spot where it was standing when shot at and how to ensure that you find this sign and how to follow it up and recover the deer.

How to Choose the Right Binocular

The vital features that a binocular must have to be suitable for Sambar are listed and explained in detail. Often hunters are not aware of these features, let alone understanding why they are so important. Good quality binoculars which cost less than $1000 are listed, as is the difference in performance between them and binos costing 3 to 4 times as much is discussed.

Equipment - Clothing, Daypacks, GPS, etc

Identifies the best materials to wear in the various types of weather. Points out the huge difference in quality of fleece produced by various manufacturers. Explains the most suitable layering system for hunting Sambar; which materials are most effective at shedding water; which minimise body scent and which increase it. Lists the desirable features to have in a daypack, what safety equipment you should carry, how and where you should carry your GPS.

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Take a Look Inside


Having known Errol Mason for nearly twenty years, I feel very privileged and humbled to have received a prepublication copy of Errol’s revised book, Secrets of the Sambar Volume 1. Errol will not need any introduction to deer hunters as for many years he was a regular columnist for Guns & Game magazine which led to his own Secrets of the Sambar magazine.

Errol’s contribution to hunting our number one game animal as a guide and author is unrivalled. Errol’s first three books that form the Secrets of the Sambar trilogy, and his latest book, The Hunt Smart System ®, are by far the best books I have ever read on Sambar. So when Errol asked me to review the revised and redesigned edition of Secrets of the Sambar Volume 1, I was very keen.

The impact that Volume 1 had when it was first published in 2006 was enormous, so why change something that is so good? The main reason is the changes in technology and equipment which have occurred over the past fourteen years. But in addition - as The Hunt Smart System ® book clearly shows - Errol’s knowledge has increased enormously during these 14 years, due to the fact that he continued to study Sambar in a full time capacity, and in doing so he spent hundreds of days in the bush with binoculars, his super telephoto lens and a Kestrel Weather Meter.

His enhanced knowledge is reflected in this revised edition which is up-referenced to his Hunt Smart book which in turn is down referenced to this book to more detailed information on many subjects such as tracking, antler development and casting, how bullets kill, binoculars etc.. which are mentioned only briefly in The Hunt Smart System ® book. Note that Errol doesn’t repeat the same information in his four books. When he starts to talk about a subject that he has already covered in detail in another volume, he refers you to that volume and the page number.

The chapters “Rifles and Scopes” and “Equipment” have been brought right up to date. They explain the pros and cons plus traps to avoid. The “must have” items of equipment such as a bino harness, Fox 40 Sonik blast whistle, Safari Sling and bipod shooting sticks. There are many other upgrades throughout the book that will give both new and experienced hunters a deeper insight into the life of Sambar.

Chapters covering antler growth and casting cover the life - from birth to death - of a fully mature captive Sambar stag. It includes photos of a stag taken when he was 2.5 years old, and again when he was 11. It shows how many days he took to grow his antlers from the day he cast to the day he rubbed out. And there is a unique close up photo of him taken the day he began to strip velvet.

There is an exceptionally informative chapter on tracking. This chapter is very detailed and the outstanding photos of a stag’s and a hinds 4 hooves and the tracks they make will enable the reader to easily identify the sex and size of any tracks found. Photos of 4 different sets of tracks are provided which include fresh tracks alongside tracks that have been rained upon, enabling you to instantly tell the difference.

This revised volume is well researched and the photos are outstanding as in all Errol’s books. Having read The Hunt Smart System ® - the latest of Errol’s books - I have concluded that like Volumes 2 and 3, this revised edition of Volume 1 is a terrific fit with The Hunt Smart System ® for together they cover all bases. If you want to demystify these Big Brown Deer and learn how to hunt them successfully, this book is for you. Errol’s four books are all about teaching you how to hunt smarter and of equal importance, how to hunt ethically. I recommend these outstanding books to you.


Neil Hair, Maffra Vic.

Hi Errol,

I am a firm believer that knowledge is key to success. I am a dedicated deer hunter like other hunters either seek the trophy or harvest a game animal to feed their family and friends. My hunting style was that of get in the bush and walk them up and if you get lucky, you get lucky. This style of hunting worked for many years and I was successful on many trips. I first came across the Secrets of Sambar books about 18 months ago and swear by them for so many reasons.

You hear the term think like a deer, and yes that is the whole point of these books.

I recently received my personal copy of the Secrets of Sambar volume 1. I have never read a book from start to finish apart from the Secrets of Sambar or the Hunt Smart books written by Errol Mason. Every book is so different and important aspects of Sambar deer are broken up into chapters, with hard facts, detailed photos and helpful tips for all types of hunters.

All of the Secrets of Sambar are enjoyable and knowledgeable, however volume 1 has been the benefactor that has inspired me to be a better all-round hunter. There are many chapters and details that are not mentioned in any other books, such as Antler development and aging of stags. Signposting, farm fringe tactics, Tracking deer, Antler casting, Understanding Sambar deer, weather factors and hunting the right gully.

After reading the Secrets of Sambar I changed my entire hunting technique and have improved many different areas of my hunting style. I can now get to an area read the sign, work with the weather, look for the gully’s, spurs, saddles and will guarantee to see sambar up close without them being alarmed. Whether you are hunting for a trophy, meat or camera, Secrets of Sambar volume 1 is a must have for all deer hunters.

Steve Kallitsas

Having read most hunting stories of old India on Sambar by the great English authors, this book leaves them in its wake. I do not think there has ever been a book written with so much information regarding Sambar. And for a person to write this book in a country where they were introduced it is nothing short of outstanding. A magnificent book.

Robert Hoggard - Traralgon, Victoria
No where else have I come across such a well researched hunting publication of such high quality - you and your wife are to be commended. I really hope that your trilogy is discovered by the mainstream media, for they really are deserved of recognition outside of the hunting fraternity.

Andrew Wilson - Geelong, Victoria
This book sets a new standard for the Australian hunting scene with its well-written text, excellent colour photographs and high quality presentation.

Ken Slee - Editor Australian Deer

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