Modern people have largely lost their connection to “the hunt,” but with fewer people wanting to become hunters and damage to fields and mountains increasing due to booming wild boar and deer populations, could “hunter girls” be the next generation to face the beasts of the wild?

One young woman left her office job to hunt and another serves fresh game in her guesthouse. Why did they seek out the hunter’s life?

It was mid-March and there was not much time left in the hunting season. In the mountains of Itoshima, Fukuoka Prefecture, a woman took on an 88-pound wild boar.

The boar’s foreleg was caught in a snare she had set, and it was angry and menacing.

“If you hesitate, it’ll get you,” she said later.

Carefully approaching her prey, she brought the boar down with a special spear – her fourth, and biggest, kill since becoming a hunter last autumn.

‘ABILITY TO LIVE ON MY OWN’

The hunter is Chiharu Hatakeyama, a 28-year-old who used to work for a movie distributor in Yokohama, and whose life was changed by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

With store shelves emptied of food and water after the quake, and aftershocks hitting almost daily, she wondered what would happen if money could no longer be used to buy things.

“I wanted the ability to live on my own,” she said.

She killed her first chicken that autumn. Eating the bird, the fear of taking another life mixed with gratitude brought tears to her eyes.

She wanted others to have that experience, so she began holding workshops where people could butcher a chicken.

Next, she turned her sights to hunting.

After obtaining a hunting license, she quit her job in the summer of 2013 and began a life of hunting and plowing the fields.

Hatakeyama made her first kill in December – a young wild boar weighing about 44 pounds. She quickly drained the blood and washed the carcass in a cold mountain stream.

A LIFE SHE CAN ACCEPT

“A life disappears, and I live on by partaking of it,” she said, remarking that such serious thoughts have led her to stop eating commercially sold meat.

It is difficult to chase prey through the mountains, but nature is beautiful, and there are wild vegetables to pick.

As the next hunting season approaches, “I want to know more about the mountains and the wild boars so I can hunt in a way that I can accept,” she said.