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A Girl and Her (Spear) Gun

Meet Kimi Werner — Hunter, Conservationist, and Budding Chef

Photos Courtesy of Christa Funk

Kimi Werner isn’t a household name yet, but she should be. The Maui-born spearfisher and free-diver now lives on the North Shore of Oahu and has built an aquatic career that has translated into high-profile relationships with global brands around hunting and conservation — and the reality that our food chain can be used in better ways.

Kimi was dropped into the warm, turquoise waters of rural Maui by her father at the age of 5. An avid waterman himself, he taught her early about breath holds, learning to be calm in the water, and trusting herself. Not many 5- or 6-year-olds have the gumption to stay calm on the surface of a deep blue ocean with tiger sharks, as their father dives so far down through reef heads and kelp forests they disappear for minutes at a time. Bobbing alone in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of the most geographically isolated island chain in the world, a small spark was set inside Kimi’s heart. It wouldn’t be fully fanned until she graduated from college, but it gave her the prevailing direction that would lead her to the forefront of a movement.

We chat from time to time, and I’ve been lucky enough to hang out with Kimi. She completely bucks the trend of what a civilized woman is often expected to be. Don’t get me wrong; she’s incredibly warm, polite, articulate, and has retained the joy of her childhood in her smile. But she’s a confident hunter, a warrior for the precious resources we all need to protect, and unafraid to share her strong opinions on these topics even if you disagree. She’s aware of her role in the food chain and executes that role with equal parts cunning and humility.

Anyone should be so fortunate to find something they’re deeply passionate about that allows them to travel the world, diving in exotic locations from Alaska to remote islands off the coast of Africa. Kimi is paving a new path and enjoying some incredible meals along the way. She’s as passionate about food as she is about hunting and the environment. Follow her on social media, and you’ll find yourself drooling over fresh poke dishes with toasted sesame seeds, local Axis deer (an invasive species to the Hawaiian Islands and in need of hunter regulation), and garden-grown fruits and veggies.

Kimi drags a chef’s dream grocery store out of the ocean almost every day. The connection she makes between the land, sea, and her table is a natural one. It’s easier this way, and you can feel it when she describes her lifestyle.

Growing up scooping eggs from the dusty earth underneath the chicken coop, the notion of buying them in Styrofoam containers didn’t strike her until much later in life, when she finally encountered them in a cold, fluorescent box behind a glass door.

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