Sara Rose Brandenburg, 15, and her sister Katey, 18, are probably two of the most accomplished teenage hunters in the country. They’ve killed trophy bears, deer, antelope sheep and African plains animals. Sara is even poised to become the youngest woman to ever complete the North American Grand Slam.
“They’re just good kids, and I’m terribly proud of them,” says their father Rod Brandenburg who has spent countless hours afield with his daughters.
So, you can imagine his surprise, and anger, when British tabloid The Sun published an article online titled “Twisted sisters” about his two daughters. The article starts out like this: “Pretty teenage sisters have turned themselves into angels of death – shooting dead DOZENS of wild animals then smiling for sick photos with the bodies.”
The story even goes on to call Sara bloodthirsty. The Sun also ran about 10 of the “sick photos” which are nothing more than a few shots of the girls with their parents and the animals they harvested.
“It’s just a slap in the face to hunters everywhere,” Rod says.
To set the record straight, the Brandenburgs are like any family that takes part in outdoor sports, they are just lucky enough to have the financial means to hunt all over the world. Rod, who lives in Colorado, is happiest watching his daughters hunt, and can’t help but go on and on about how proud he is of them. The girls talk about killing animals cleanly and eating everything they shoot. And when I interviewed Sara, there was no indication that she was a bloodthirsty angle of death. However, she was polite, well-spoken and friendly.
The amount of sensationalism the Sun added to its story is almost unbelievable. If you’re not up to snuff on your British media, the Sun is a daily tabloid that is one of the most widely distributed papers in the world. Also, it seems that they were not up front with the sort of attack piece they would be writing. According to the Brandenburgs, a reporter from Barcroft Media came out to their house to shoot photos and interviews before the piece ran.
“We were really nice to them, the guy even stayed in our house for like three days,” Sara says. “We all thought he was just going to do a story about how we really like hunting.”
As a member of the media, a hunter and a person who thinks it’s wrong to take advantage of teenage girls, the Sun’s story was hard to swallow. At a time when people all over the world are working to get more young women interested in the outdoors, you can’t help but worry that a story like this could hurt the cause.
But luckily, The Sun’s article hasn’t slowed the Brandenburgs down. In fact, they’re leaving tomorrow to chase Stone’s sheep in the Yukon. If Sara is successful, she’ll be the youngest woman to ever complete a North American Grand Slam (which requires you to kill all four North American wild sheep species through fair chase hunting). Last season she killed a Dall’s sheep in Alaska, A Rocky Mountain bighorn in British Columbia and a Desert Bighorn in Mexico.
“I am unbelievably excited,” Sara says. “I have been having dreams about sheep hunting every night.”
I personally hope she kills the biggest ram in the Yukon.