Don't let Minnie Montaperto's blonde hair and slim build fool you.

Montaperto is a true country girl. It was a year before boyfriend Jaimee Ellis saw her in makeup or a dress.

And there's nothing the shepherd loves more than heading into the bush and snagging a feral boar. "I got into pig hunting, and got my first dogs, when I was about 11 years old," she said.

Until recently Montaperto didn't know of too many other female hunters. But over the past year the number of women heading into the back blocks in search of a prized pig has soared.


"All of a sudden all these chicks were coming forward and saying 'I do that too'," Montaperto said.

An impressive hunting trophy.
An impressive hunting trophy.

The 20-year-old from Taumarunui is among a growing number of women who are giving Kiwi blokes a run for their money on the hunting front.

Websites and Facebook groups dedicated to women hunters have been created and a new magazine, Chicks Smashing Grunters, features Kiwi and Aussie women posing with their catches. Montaperto's photos impressed the editor enough to secure a spread in the latest edition.

She said people were more accepting of women hunters now than when she started posting photos and videos of her hunts three years ago.

Initially some refused to acknowledge her as a true hunter. Others said hunting wasn't an activity for young women.

"It took me a long time to shake that," Montaperto said. "So I started putting videos up and going to competitions and then people started taking me seriously."

Montaperto said some men were afraid of being shown up by women. But as more women joined hunts with their partners, or headed out on their own, they showed they were hunters like any others.

"Now they're proud that their partners are out there doing it. My partner is, and a lot of other people's are, too."

Hunting brought Montaperto and Ellis together.

About three years ago Montaperto got a shepherding job next to the Ellis family farm.

Soon after, Ellis caught a pig, and when he needed her help carrying it out of the bush, sparks flew.

"We were both into horses, hunting and farming.

"He took me pig hunting once. I thought his dogs were up to scratch, and that was it," she said of the romance.

The couple have a friendly rivalry over who trains the best pig dogs, but on the hunt they're in it together.

"For us, we do it as a team. [When] people watch us run in and flip a pig together, they're like 'I've never seen a couple work like that without arguing'."

That teamwork and bond is why Montaperto includes the hashtag "#SlaytogetherStaytogether" every time she posts a hunt picture online.