Weekend Warrior: Function Point’s Jenny Ly is a software sales exec, hunter and conservationist all at once

Three large animals later, Function Point exec Jenny Ly is on the hunt for deer.

Jenny Ly_Credit Tanya Goehring

Credit: Tanya Goehring

Three large animals later, Ly is on the hunt for deer

Imagine winning a Limited Entry Hunting draw that allows you to go shoot a caribou in B.C.’s Itcha mountain range. That would mean driving 10 hours from Vancouver, jumping on a Beaver float plane and getting dropped off in the middle of nowhere for 10 days.

“It was pretty extreme for a new hunter,” says Jenny Ly, account executive at Vancouver-based software firm Function Point, of her first hunt. It was 2018, and the 25-year-old had just quit her job, ended a six-year relationship and moved out on her own for the first time.

Looking for a fresh start, Ly began foraging for mushrooms. She took two exams, and learned gun safety, hunting safety, backpacking skills and backcountry survival. She also worked at a restaurant, where she met hunters of different calibres. “It all spiralled from there,” she remembers.

No matter how big your passion is, taking on a caribou on your first hunt is no easy task. After the experience—in which Ly heard her partner make the kill—it took several trips (and days) for the pair to skin, butcher and hike the animal to the pick-up point. But by the time they reached the lake, the snow had them trapped for three days before a plane could get them.

What Ly does is called mountain hunting: “Just imagine you’re going on a five- to 10-day backpacking trip in the mountains,” she says. She carries everything on her back: a light tent, sleeping bag, mini stove, freeze-dried food, water, trekking poles and boots. “The only difference from a backpacker is my rifle,” she adds.

As you can probably tell from the gear involved, hunting can really gut your wallet. But even after five years at Function Point, Ly has declined promotions so that she can maintain her current work-life balance, which enables her to devote just as much time as she works into volunteering as a board member of the BC Wildlife Federation (which includes 40,000 local members, most of whom are hunters). In her role, she implements DEI policies and digital strategies to help the organization grow sustainably.

“A lot of hunters care about the environment and habitats,” Ly explains. “We donate a lot of our money towards caring for the animals and the rules are very strict in B.C.—if you shoot an animal, you have to eat it.”

Ly is actually vegetarian for most of the year (with a diet of mostly eggs and tofu), except when she eats the meat she kills. Growing up, the Vancouverite often visited her family’s farm in Vietnam, where she regularly saw people butcher pigs, geese and chickens. So when she began hunting and wanted to butcher an animal herself, she did what any of us would do: she looked it up on YouTube.

“If I didn’t have my time out in the woods, I don’t think I’d be that good of a businessperson,” she maintains. “Being able to sit still in minus 12 degrees in snow waiting for an animal has made me a better communicator, a better listener, and it’s given me more compassion for people.” It’s also given her a new perspective on consuming sustainably, Ly adds.

But it’s not always as glorious as it sounds. “I think 90 percent of the time it’s going for a hike with your rifle,” says Ly. To put things into perspective, she has only shot three animals in six years. One of those was a Canadian moose—her biggest kill yet.

That hunt was during mating season, so the animals were, shall we say, a bit distracted. To attract one, Ly mimicked the mating call of a female moose: “Believe it or not, the moose are horny, and they run out, and that’s your opportunity to shoot,” she says.

Her favourite trip was a solo hunt for a mountain goat in 2019, when the conservationist found herself separated from her own herd in Smithers. Shooting female goats, while legal, is discouraged, which means Ly (still a rookie at this point) spent three long nights being circled by grizzlies and wolves, waiting for a goat to lift its leg.

“Finally, it took a piss and I made the shot right away,” she recalls of the almost 300-pound male she had to carry back home.

At the moment, she’s got her eyes on deer, which are a quick and difficult animal to hunt. In fact, she just returned from a five-day trip to Clinton, where she was tracking deer knee deep in snow.

When asked what she came back with, she starts to laugh: “Just a good spirit. That’s the reality of hunting.”