Japan's female hunters take aim at wild boar, stereotypes

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Female hunters take aim at stereotypes
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Female hunters take aim at stereotypes
Hunter Yasuyo Kitagawa holds her rifle as she waits for deer in a forest outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Yasuyo Kitagawa drives into a forest to hunt for deer outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Yasuyo Kitagawa holds Chiro, the offspring of her hunting dog at her farm in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Morning mist rises behind a hunting lodge in a forest outside Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Masami Hata shoots at a duck in a forest outside Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Fujiko Nagata and her husband Izumi walk in a forest looking for bear in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Raindrops are seen on twigs in a forest outside Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Chiaki Kodama blows a deer whistle to attract animals in a forest outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Chiaki Kodama points at a deer prints on a road outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A deer runs through a forest after it was shot by hunter Chiaki Kodama outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Chiaki Kodama shoots a deer in a forest outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A deer lies in a forest after being shot by a hunter outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunters Chiaki Kodama (R) and Aoi Fukuno drag a deer that Kodama shot through a forest outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016.
Hunter Chiaki Kodama loads a deer she shot onto her truck in a forest outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Blood flows from the body of a dead deer in a forest creek outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
A deer carcass lies in the back of a truck in a forest outside Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
Hunter Chiaki Kodama guts a deer in a shed in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
Buckets hold the remains of a deer in a shed in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
Deer antlers pile up in a shed at the farm of hunter Yasuyo Kitagawa in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
Deer bones are seen in a shed in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
The head of a boar lies in a bowl at hunter Fujiko Nagata's gutting station in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
A deer carcass hangs in a shed to drain in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Entrails of a boar are seen in a bowl at hunter Fujiko Nagata's gutting station in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
Hunter Fujiko Nagata carries her son Ryo as she removes the hide of a boar at her gutting station in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter 
Hunter Fujiko Nagata stitches a purse made of deer skin at her workshop in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunter Fujiko Nagata and her husband Izumi stand with their son Ryo in the kitchen of their restaurant in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Boar sausages are seen in a pan in the restaurant of hunter Fujiko Nagata in Hakusan, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
Hunters Chiaki Kodama and Aoi Fukuno eat breakfast before their hunting trip in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, Japan, November 17, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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FUKUI, Japan, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Chiaki Kodama blows her deer whistle and soon a male deer wanders into sight. She slowly takes aim and squeezes the trigger.

Moments later, Kodama and a friend on her first hunt are tracking the wounded animal through the forest.

"Look for the trail of blood," advised Kodama as they set off on a mountainside in Japan's Fukui prefecture.

SEE ALSO: There's a town in Japan where over half the residents are actually life-sized dolls

The 28-year-old hairdresser and city councilor is among a small but growing number of Japanese women entering the male-dominated world of hunting, where it was once taboo for men to even speak to a woman before going on a hunt.

As the hunting fraternity shrinks due to age and rural depopulation, women are recruited to help protect farms against rising numbers of wild deer and boar viewed as pests by farmers.

Farmer Manabu Ushiyachi said he welcomed any hunter, male or female, to help fend off the wild boar that feast on vegetable crops.

"There are farms that have been completely devastated," he said, adding that attempts to trap the animals had failed.

Japanese farmers have lost up to 23 billion yen ($170 million) annually since 2008 because of rising numbers of deer, boar, monkeys and birds, the Ministry of Agriculture said last month.

"We've tried methods such as building fences or chasing animals away to minimize their deaths, but it wasn't enough," said Kazuhiro Akiba, head of the ministry's Wildlife Management Office in Fukui.

Since the late 1990s, the number of deer in Japan has jumped from less than 400,000 to more than 3 million, according to the Ministry of Environment. The boar population doubled to 1 million over the same period.

Akiba said hunting was necessary to "keep the numbers under control to maintain a healthy ecosystem."

Of Japan's 105,000 registered hunters, two-thirds are 60 or older, and only 1,169 are female, according to the National Hunting Association, which counted 500,000 hunters in the 1970s.

Hunting groups and local governments are trying to recruit women through social media, as well as offering hunting tours and classroom training.

The national association's website has a blog page titled "Aspire to be a Female Hunter!", where women write about their hunting experiences. One writer noted the "kind gesture" when she found portable toilets for female hunters in rest huts.

In some prefectures, women can sign up for hunting courses or join a hunting tour. Others, like Kodama, provide on-the-hunt training.

After shooting the deer, Kodama and her 28-year-old friend, Aoi Fukuno, followed the blood trail and found the dead animal lying on a fallen tree. Kodama then showed Aoi how to gut the deer and lay it in a river to drain the blood.

"It's exciting to finally see with my own eyes what I read in textbooks to get my license," said Aoi.

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