By Gary Koehler
Each member of our representative group of five women-ranging in age from 20-something to 96-is a regular in the marsh, and has a story worth sharing.
Meet the fastest-growing segment of the shooting sports. Yes, that's right, women. Many, like those included in this report, hunt ducks and geese. These gunners have also been known to pursue white-tailed deer, pheasants, turkeys, and more. Most also fish. And, when it comes time to go out to dinner, they may or may not be adorned in a dress and high heels.
Tiffany Veenker - Portland, Oregon
Although a few years removed from her tenure as an Oregon high school state track and field sprint champion, Tiffany Veenker has not lost a step. Only the arena has changed.
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Hers is a lesson in quick-draw shooting with a 12-gauge semiautomatic. Zooming Columbia River bluebills routinely pay a stiff price while testing the reflexes of this relative newcomer to the waterfowling world.
"When and how I learned how to shoot a shotgun, that was a big difference," Tiffany says. "Most people, when they are learning, it's very calm and relaxed. Well, when I was going to the gun club, I was with a group of people who were all very competitive. When you yelled 'Pull,' and you weren't quick enough, they were going to shoot your target.
"We were shooting every Wednesday night, and we were reloading beforehand. We would go through 500 rounds a night. It helped shooting with those guys, because out on the river you've got to be quick when shooting bluebills. You certainly can't stand there holding your gun all the time waiting for them to come by."
Tiffany, still in her twenties, has been hunting waterfowl for eight years. She currently splits her time afield between a family friend's camp on the lower Columbia River and a Sauvie Island duck club.
"My two older brothers and I grew up shooting, but my dad mostly hunted elk," she says. "He never did a lot of duck hunting."
"My sister-in-law's brother, Robert, was a maniac about duck hunting. Duck season came around, and I wanted to try that. Robert got my dad to go, too. He reintroduced my dad to it. Dad joined a private club so we could go all the time. It was fun. And I found out it can be addicting."