Christina Williams has a sobering tale that serves as a warning to other hunters as this year's roar is about to start.
While her story has a happy outcome, it could easily have been a tragic one.
In November 2019, Christina suffered severe injuries as a passenger on a quad bike at the end of a hunting trip in Aorangi Forest Park with her husband Damon.
She used her recuperation time wisely and taught herself all the techniques required to be a taxidermist - but that's the second part of the story.
A longing to hunt had remained just that until she met Damon four years ago. The couple now live in rural Te Puke.
''I grew up watching everyone go hunting and I'd always wanted to go hunting, but didn't know who to contact or go with, then I met my husband and that was it - every time we could go out we'd go out. Everything I've learnt, I've learnt from my husband.''
She says hunting helps with her mental wellbeing.
''People talk about mindfulness and a lot of people meditate and listen to music - for me it's being out in the bush and watching and looking for deer or a sign and following trails and that just calms my mind.
''There's also the exercise and the endorphins. You are satisfied that you are both physically tired at the end of a hunt, but also mentally tired from all the planning and thinking how to approach a deer.''
She says she has struggled with mental health in the past.
''Since I stared hunting four years ago with my husband, I just noticed a real difference in how I feel, how I think. I'm a lot calmer, more relaxed and have something to look forward to - the next hunting trip and all the planning that comes with it.''
All that came to a sudden end with her accident.
She describes what happened:
''Out hunting, I was sitting behind my husband on the quad bike going down a narrow dirt track when the right tyres slid into a rut and flipped the bike over onto its right wheels.
Past the point of being able to keep my leg tucked in, my right foot planted on the ground with all of my weight on it and at the same time Damon accelerated to get the bike out of the flip.
''The bike flew out from under me and spun me around over the top of my right knee with the motion, and with gravity, I proceeded to head plant into the ground! There was no cell coverage, so I lay on the track in the darkness while Damon went off to get help.''
Christina fractured the tibial plateau, a rare injury, and ended up with a circulation issue called compartment syndrome.
''I also fractured two vertebrae and even today I am suffering from the side effects of a delayed concussion.
''Damon always hunted on a quad bike so we'd make do and I jumped on the back knowing you shouldn't double, and never had helmet and never had safety locator beacons - we were well out of cellphone range.
''Thankfully, his brother did know where we were so, worst case, if we didn't come back he would have known where to come and look for us .''
Damon had to go 1km to get cellphone coverage to call the helicopter and the pilot was able to track the phone's GPS.
Using the quad bike headlights as a guide, the helicopter landed and Damon, a paramedic and pilot rode back to Christina.
''It took about 25 minutes to get my pain under control and leg into a blow-up cast and harness on.''
Meanwhile the pilot returned to the helicopter and, not having taken the GPS co-ordinates, relied on the paramedic's torch to find Christina so she could be winched aboard.
An X-ray at Wellington Hospital revealed the extent of her injuries - everything from her kneecap down was smashed.
But more worryingly, her leg was starting to swell and blacken.
''They had to cut my leg open on both sides to relieve the pressure and that saved my leg. If I didn't have a cellphone I probably would have lost it because Damon would have had to travel another 30-40 minutes just to get help, then another hour to get back out and find me - and time was crucial.''
With time on her hands, Christina decided she was ready for a career change.
''I spent 20 years working in the corporate world and it was getting very stressful. On that hunting trip I was trying to make the decision on whether I was going to come back and resign - without knowing what I was going to go into.
''The accident, plus my passion for hunting - I decided it as a sign and I'm going to spend my recovery time learning to do something that I'm actually quite passionate about - and it worked out.''
Taxidermy was something she started to take an interest in when she began hunting and she realised the time it was taking for trophies to come back from the taxidermist.
''I started hearing stories of other people who had been waiting one to two years before they got the head back and thought 'that's crazy'. Then I shot my own 12-pointer and wanted to get that mounted, so said 'I'm going to learn to do this myself and see if there's an opportunity to do this as a trade'. The more I researched, I found there were no women I could see doing the whole thing from beginning to end who also hunted.
''Having a background in business analysis and processes and efficiencies, I have applied those to the method I use. There's quite a structure in the process, end to end, so I can tell the client what's happening to their skin and a timeframe. I've got the process down to a maximum of four months for every single client.''
Heads arrive with the skin attached.
''My job is to separate the skin from the antlers - peel it down to the eyes, cut around the
eyes, cut around the lips.
''I measure everything, for when I put it back together.
''I love it. It's another form of mindfulness and every single one is different - there are bullet holes, knife holes and the spray paint is different as well. They all have different colours and different shades.
She says there is an obvious gory element.
''It is really gory, but because I am hunting and normally processing and cutting up my own deer and I process all the meat, I'm used to it - but it's not for everybody. It's definitely a niche thing to get into and having a weak stomach isn't going to get you anywhere in the world of taxidermy.''