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Hooked on Hunting

DuncanBy Dustin Duncan

-- I started hunting when I was 7 years old. I am now 28 and have served more than four years on active duty as an Army Ranger.

I am in the process of becoming an officer with Cal Poly State University’s ROTC program. While at Cal Poly, I met my girlfriend, Meryl Cohen. She had never hunted, but has wanted to for several years. Her friends back at home think hunting is for men only and would never take her. Well, I changed that.

We had her complete her hunter’s safety course and received her certificate on April 26, 2008. I bought her a hunting license so she could go turkey hunting with me. That same day, I let her shoot my 12-gauge Remington 870 Express Magnum, which was her first time to fire a shotgun. She bought some camouflage, and we prepared for the next day.


Knowing that she only had the next day and the weekend after to hunt until the season ended, we decided to start immediately. We got up at 4:30 a.m. and set off to my dad’s place behind Lopez Lake. I grabbed our decoy and a box call, and we headed off back into the property on foot.

I called in three tom turkeys right away. Meryl was nervous because I had left her so I could call from behind her. She wasn’t sure which tom to shoot, but remembered that I had told her to take the one with the longest beard.

When she switched the safety to fire, the turkeys heard the click, saw her and ran off. She felt bad, but didn’t want to give up. We walked around the property, and I continued to call. We saw and photographed a bald eagle that lives there, which made her happy.

We returned to the area we’d hunted that morning, and this time, it paid off. I struck the call and received several gobbles in return. After setting up the decoy, we moved into a good shooting position. She wanted me to stay with her because she was worried she might get nervous again and freeze.

Four nice toms responded to the call, and Meryl dropped the biggest one. Sporting a 10.5-inch beard and 1.2-inch spurs, it is better than any tom I’ve shot, and I’ve hunted that area my whole life. Now Meryl is hooked on hunting, and she can’t wait to go deer hunting this fall. 

--Dustin Duncan

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