By Rebecca Drew
THIS FEMALE hunter has been told TO KILL HERSELF by trolls online but wants to show people that hunting isn’t disgusting or ‘all about the killing’ – and says it’s beautiful and is about filling her freezer and saving on grocery bills.
Contractor and calf rearer, Sammi Lee (22) from near Christchurch, New Zealand, grew up in an outdoorsy family where she loved fishing, all sports, trucks and animals. When she was 16, Sammi’s friends invited her to join them on a hunting trip and keen to try something new she went along and instantly fell in love with it.
Sammi loves everything about hunting and says it’s not all about the killing, but about being in nature, keeping fit by climbing up hills and being appreciative of what she’s killed which she stores in her freezer and means that her grocery bills are lower. She estimates that she saves between £53 to £107 (100 NZD to 200 NZD) per month due to not having to buy meat.
Sammi goes hunting with her fiancé James and their gun dog, Labrador Tikka and their other dog, Kelpie cross Rhea joins them when they go fishing. The pair use guns to hunt their animals and always make sure they are well prepared when they go out for a hunt with a first aid kit, emergency blanket, plenty of ammunition, knives, their binoculars, rangefinder and refreshments.
They hunt big game, pigs, ducks and geese as well as fish. Sammi and James try to use as much of the animal as they possibly can, butchering the meat themselves for the freezer, making the skins into rugs or as a trophy with the head on a wall mount and their dogs get to feast on the rest of the carcass.
Sammi’s friends and family are all supportive of her hobby and she receives many positive comments on her Instagram, @sammi_nzhuntress. She’s also been subjected to some negative comments from people telling her to kill herself and reporting her pictures so they are taken down, but Sammi wants to dispel the myth that hunting is all about killing.
“I love everything anything about hunting. The main thing I love is that my grocery bill is never as big as anyone else’s. I can also disappear into the hills with no reception nothing and get away from anything that has been going on,” she said.
“I also love that my fiancé is my best mate and we can just disappear the two of us and have the best time of our lives. We are actually going on a weeklong hunting trip for a honeymoon and if that doesn’t say how much we love hunting then I don’t know what does.
“I also love the views and seeing the animals do natural things, not just the animal you’re about to go shoot but the ones around him like my fallow buck and his three girls hanging around him watching the way they all interact is just so cool to see.
“I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy but this is the way I was born and raised so I’ll always be like this and my kids will be the exact same and learn to live off the land because there’s nothing wrong with wild game.
“In our eyes, nothing tastes better than wild game but a lot of people don’t like the taste of wild game, it’s a lot stronger than supermarket meat and people don’t realise it until they have a try.
“After shooting big game, the first couple of days we let the animal hang in a chiller, what this does is it helps tenderise the meat and makes it taste better. We then skin the animal completely off, exposing all the meat and its muscles groups. Once exposing all this we start cutting everything up and getting it labelled and bagged. We don’t use a butcher or anyone for this process as my fiancé is a taxidermist and one of our best friends is an ex-butcher.
“Everything on an animal can be used for something. The skin can be tanned up and turned into a flat skin rug or if a trophy, the skin and head can be used to create a shoulder mount. Our dogs always end up with the carcass.
“With our waterfowl we mostly breast all of our ducks and geese. We normal make fresh duck or goose nuggets and then the rest is bagged and stored in the freezer. The body of the animal has no use anymore and gets binned.
“Our dogs are not allowed to eat the frames of these birds due to our one-year-old black lab been a waterfowl dog and we don’t want her having a bad habit of retrieving a duck and then eating it.
“Most of the people I hang around with hunt and they know it’s my life especially if you walk into our house. We have animals mounted everywhere and if they aren’t mounted we have their whole skulls and we also have flat skins.
“My family loves seeing my hunting photos however there are still people around me that try to ignore that side of me as that’s not what they like doing and I’m fine with that. On Instagram I get a lot of love and support I get the odd person here and there that is completely against what I do but they never seem to ask why I do it.
“I’ve had people tell me to go kill myself, I’ve had people try to find any photo they can of a dead animal and try getting it removed from my Instagram. I’ve had people comment in languages I don’t understand with angry faces and everything, but you just ignore them because they have nothing better to do than be a keyboard warrior.”
Sammi dreams of being able to go to America to hunt a mountain lion or black bear one day and says she hasn’t run into too many problems whilst hunting but improving her fitness has been a learning curve for her.
“There isn’t anything ‘hard’ about hunting but if there was one thing I’d tell my 16-year-old self it would definitely be about fitness, there is hill fit and just fit. There is a massive difference between the two as when you’re climbing hills and mountains you’re using different muscle groups,” she said.
“Head down and push yourself to the top and never give up, stop as much as you like but your main goal is to get onto those tops and hope for an animal. Shooting an animal is the reward for the hard work that goes in, from the prepping of the hunt to carrying an animal back to the truck.
“Hunting is a sport and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose but each hunt will have a memory you’ll never forget even if it is only the view.”
Finally, Sammi wanted to share a positive message about hunting.
“I would love to send a positive message to anyone who does not understand this sport. Hunting isn’t always about killing animals, hunting is about getting out and filling our freezer to save money on groceries,” she said.
“Hunting is about either spending time with your mates or taking a walk through the bush by yourself to get away from the world a little. Everyone sees it as ‘disgusting’ or ‘horrible’ but it’s not.
“We can sit on a ridge for hours and hours watching animals taking photos before we take a shot, it’s not all about the killing but when we do finally get to put an animal on the ground we appreciate what we’ve got.
“Get out for a walk and explore the hills or even better come follow me for a day on the hill and I’ll show you why I love it so much because to be honest there are no words to describe how amazing and beautiful hunting is.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/sammi_nzhuntress