top of page
Front Back and Spine.png

An Accidental Bushman

The Making of a Forest Ranger

It is 1961 in Taranaki, New Zealand. A naïve teenager, Ross Lockyer leaves school with no idea what he wants to do with his life. He only knows that the outdoors is his element, and that he feels truly at home in his own skin when he is hiking, hunting, fishing, and trapping in the back of beyond.

A chance newspaper advertisement and the persuasion of a friend who recognises that Ross was never made for a life in an office launch Ross into a career that will take him through many adventures over four decades, through 42 countries, and innumerable close shaves.

An Accidental Bushman sometimes reads like a hilarious instruction book of what not to do, with many of Ross’s ill-fated adventures stemming from what simply seems like a good idea at the time—like his disastrous introduction to boating with no experience, no safety gear, and ultimately no working engine! Ross makes a habit of crashing vehicles, manufactures cyanide possum bait (and lives to tell the tale), gets seriously lost in the bush, spends a night in a haunted hut, gets marooned on an island amidst swirling floodwaters, contracts hypothermia, and survives some memorable culinary disasters. It’s clear that without his uncanny knack of always falling on his feet, Ross wouldn’t be with us to tell these stories today.

Ross also shares yarns of the colourful bunch of larrikins with whom he trained, worked, and socialised, regaling us with tales of interrupted trysts, foul revenge, forest fires, thieving wildlife, crippling hangovers, poaching, parties, and motorised mayhem.


In An Accidental Bushman (the prequel to Cannibals, Crocodiles and Cassowaries, published in 2019), Ross tells about how it all came to be—and about some of the incorrigible hard-cases, precarious predicaments, and hair-raising exploits that shaped his training and early career as a Forest Ranger in New Zealand.

Ross has a way of telling a story that draws you into the moment and sweeps you along with the action. There are plenty of laughs (some at Ross’s expense) and enough scrapes and shenanigans to make you wonder how Ross ever survived to write the book!


Settle in for another book of rip-roaring adventures that’s as hard to put down as the last one!

032 me cooking deer liver for breakfast. Lake Hochstetter camp. 1963.jpg
025 Patchett, Winkle, Weka, me, Tony, Abbo, John R, Neddy & Herb with Bruce the dog. Golde
048 Carkeek Hut, Tararuas 1964. l-r Athol Geddes, Colin McIntyre, me, Russell Hume, Dick H
027 My Model A Rahu Saddle hunting trip 1963 - edited.jpg
bottom of page