2022 was the beginning of a triumphant year for Duell Murphy and the Heather Island crew. It started with the dark and harrowing weekend Duell went down to TX for a ProClassic hunt. After running errands and grabbing a bite to eat along with friend and colleague, Bronk McDaniel. As Duell was making his way to the lodge the winding roads crept up on them as Dusk settled in Athens, TX. They lost control of the truck and suddenly as the truck met a tree, they were met with darkness.
Hours turned into days and days into weeks. The two men survived the wreck. Duell walked away with a broken hip and an exploded artery. Bronk suffered head injuries and The dog Duell was handling in the event, Melvin was thrown from the truck and found treed about a mile away with only a few scratches. Duell was upset knowing this would be a setback. However, while in recovery, he couldn’t help but think about what it was exactly that got him into this sport.
Duell started pleasure hunting at the age of 16 with Trace Searles and his grandfather Rodger Searles. He never had his own hound and would only go maybe once or twice a week on the weekends. He spent the majority of his free time on the seat of a dirtbike going to competitions. This was his first true passion and he was just a few races away from being pro until; he found out he was going to be a father. Then he decided right then and there that the daring Motocross life was not something he wanted if he was going to be there for his son. However… maybe he could do something with his other hobby of his; coonhunting. Duell bought his first dog, Sherm, off Craigslist for $750. He was a walker coonhound and had a glass eye. In 2012, they entered a $30 hunt and won that night. Everyone was impressed and wanted to buy the dog but Duell refused. Something about winning that night triggered a spark in him. It lit a fire in his heart and he wanted more. He started going to more competitions and kept winning and he was getting noticed by everyone. He was completely new to the sport and winning like he had been in the game for years. After a couple of years of winning some big hunts, Autumn Oaks, ACHA World, and 2 ProSport Truck Hunts, Ike Rainey reached out to Duell and asked him to professionally handle his dogs for him. It seems as if this only increased their momentum. Until January 2022.
Now, Duell knew better than to let doctors tell him that he would be laid up for nearly the rest of the year. Duell was in the woods immediately after the wreck, ironically using a bike for assistance. Doctors told him it would be 6-8 months until he could walk again without the help of crutches; he did this in less than 3 months’ time. Once he ditched the bike and his crutches, he called Rainey and told him he was ready to start competing again. He told him to send Melvin up to the PKC Nationals. They doubled up the first night, allowing them to rest the rest of the week. Although they didn’t qualify for finals later on that week, it sure did feel good to be back in the game with Melvin. The following week he placed second in the UKC Tournament of Champions winning $30,000 and then the next week he made it to the top 9 at the PKC World Championship. This all led up to him winning the AKC World Championship winning $6,000.
Over the past year, Duell has overcome many challenges as a handler and athlete. He’s been pushed mentally, physically, and emotionally. Despite these challenges, he’s still come out as a world champion and has no plans of stopping anytime soon, as he’s working towards gaining the UKC and PKC World titles as we speak. “I couldn’t have done any of this without my support system. I would like to thank Heather Island and Ike Rainey for giving me the opportunity to hunt wherever I want every weekend. I’d also like to thank Joy Dog Food, Razor Lights, Coon Hunter Supply, Deep Shaft Outdoors, and Stark Outdoors.” – Duell Murphy