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Spotlight: Hunting leads to chip and goodwill

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | DECEMBER 08, 2009 7:30 AM

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Trekking through some woods near Des Moines more than a decade ago, then-12-old Dustin Gaskill and a childhood friend searched among the thicket for deer.

Coming to a railroad trestle, Dustin and his friend crossed. But Dustin suddenly fell, plummeting 25 feet to the chilly gravel below.

“This is where my memory goes,” said the now-26-year-old, sitting in a living-room recliner framed by a wall of mounted deer and pheasants.

Gaskill fractured his skull in three spots. Today, the reminder is in the form of a 7-inch operating scar above his left ear.

But that scar doesn’t haunt Gaskill, whose affection for hunting has remained since the fateful fall.

Not only has he hunted avidly with the men of his family since age 14, he’s also invented a microchip that can be used to help locate arrows after bow hunters shoot them.

The chip, which he described as a security feature, can be fitted onto any arrowhead, and it only lasts an allotted amount of time to adhere to fair-chase laws, which ensure a hunter doesn’t track an animal for too long.

He presented his idea for the chip at the UI. In Entrepreneurial Innovation, taught by adjunct lecturer Robert Gettemy a couple years ago, Gaskill’s peers selected his invention as a top product.

Now, he is working on publicizing the invention and hopes to release it soon.

Gettemy said he was impressed to hear Gaskill continued to develop his chip idea.

“Dustin is a great young man. He’s got a lot of passion for what he’s doing, a lot of eagerness,” said Gettemy, who is also an avid hunter. “Having the chip ensures you don’t waste the animal.”

Jennifer Robertson, Gaskill’s fiancée, can attest to his obsession with hunting.

“That’s pretty much the first thing I learned about him,” she said. “I definitely think it’s his passion in life.”

The proof comes in some of Robertson’s anecdotes: getting up at 3 a.m. to make breakfast before a hunt or propping herself up in a tree stand with her fiancé in the frigid air for hours at a time.

Robertson’s birthday also falls on the first day of pheasant hunting in Iowa, which can lead to some tough choices.

“Every year on my birthday, I always tell him he better go out with me. And he always jokes, ‘I don’t know … it’s bird-hunting season,’ ” the 24-year-old said.

At home, Gaskill’s deep freezer is full of deer meat, and he’s already been out shotgun hunting. One recent weekend, he brought a buck home and gave it to his boss at work.

Gaskill will finish his entrepreneurial certificate this winter — he graduated last spring with a degree in business management — and within five years, he’s hoping his business will allow him to travel the world hunting.

“I’m going to live in and around my passions, not around my job,” he said. “Some people don’t understand that. It’s my favorite thing in the world. Why leave something that I love to do so much and be unhappy somewhere else?”


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