Merril Nadeau breaks the mold


At first glimpse, 16-year-old junior Merril Nadeau appears to look like your typical 16-year-old. With gleaming hair, a bright smile, and classic jeans and a sweatshirt, Merril doesn’t seem like the type of girl to spend her days fishing and hunting for a living.

“I wake up at four in the morning during the summer and go to bed at ten,” said Merril. She has a bass permit for her boat, which used to be her grandfather’s.

“It’s a different perspective on life. I work on the boat every summer,” said Merril. “You learn different skills and it’s really fun. Sometimes it’s like a job.”

The other days that she’s not fishing, she works on her boat by cleaning it and prepping it for the next day. “Fishing is just a huge part of my life,” she said.

One time, Merril caught a giant tuna which was 200 pounds, as well as a 48-pound Bass. She also caught, along with a few other people, a blue marlin that weighed over 900 pounds. “We couldn’t even fit it in the boat. We fought it for two hours,” said Merril. “To see something like that is incredible. It’s insane. The adrenaline rush is crazy.”

When Merril was younger, she and her sister Sydney used to catch scup off the dock. “My younger sister and I used to refuse to fish because the fish weren’t big enough,” she said laughing, “but my sister and I would also cry because we didn’t want to get off the boat.”

Merril’s grandfather Ted Small got her dad into fishing. “He was the principal of DHS, and he served in the Vietnam and Korean Wars.” Her dad then continued the tradition with his own family.

“Why do drugs when you can hunt?”

— Sophomore Merril Nadeau

Merril really seems to enjoy the adrenaline rush of catching fish and hunting animals. “Why do drugs when you can hunt?” she said.

Ever since she was little, her dad began hunting with her. Merril uses not only various types of guns, but also bows and arrows. “We were never allowed to shoot Nerf guns. A real gun isn’t something to play with.”

Merril mentioned that she has quite a few guns of many different calibers. “You shoot [animals] from a tree. I have a tree stand.”

Merril shot her first deer in her backyard when she was in the 7th grade. “It was during muzzleloader season, and it was an eight point buck, meaning it had four antlers on each side of its head.”

Merril said that she eats everything she catches, except coyotes. “We sell fish, so that’s commercial, but hunting deer is just recreational,” she said. “I had to be 15 to get my permit. I did my Hunter’s Safety Course and then I went to the Rod and Gun Club [in Dartmouth].” Merril was in the fourth grade when she took the course, which she had to attend for three days in a row.

“With my hunter’s license, I can get tags for deer,” said Merril. “We live in Zone 11. Each place in Massachusetts and in different states has a different zone.” However, you’re limited to the number of tags you get.

“It’s my lifestyle. I’m not just shooting animals just for fun,” she said. “I think hunting in Africa is really wrong. Why would you want to shoot a zebra or a giraffe or a rhino? Deer is different. We eat it all year long.”

Merril discussed how she shoots wild turkey and skins them herself. However, wild turkey is really tough and she doesn’t enjoy breasting out the turkey. “We also hang deer in trees since it’s colder outside than in the freezer. You wouldn’t put it in the garage.”

Merril said that turkeys are usually really hard to shoot with a bow, which is why she kills them with a gun. If she were to use a bow though, she’d use a compound bow. “The only way to kill a turkey is in the head. I’m better with a gun,” she said. “You have to think about angles. Where is it [the animal] going to be?”

Merril would like to become a marine biologist in the future. “I really hope to pursue that dream. I’d like to go to the University of New England,” she said. “Being on the water is my favorite thing.”

Once she’s a marine biologist, she’d like to track migrations of tuna. Tuna is one of her favorite fish to catch when she’s out on the water. “It’s fun to take the heads off tuna. It’s really interesting,” she said.

Merril and her family have always lived in Dartmouth. “You couldn’t pay me to live in the city. If I do have a family of my own someday, I’ll make everyone hunt and fish, too.”

Smiling, Merril said, “I hope fishing and hunting will always be a part of my life. I’m just living in today.”