by James “Jay” Pinsky, Editor, The Hunting Wire - Friday, March 25, 2022
“Dogs make us as men …. more human.”—Durrell Smith, Host, The Gun Dog Notebook podcast
“Dogmen,” the latest short film presented by the GPS app onX Hunt, focuses on the Southern culture of the quail dog and the men who train, run and love these dogs. Now streaming on the onX Hunt website and YouTube, the film is more than a breakdown of quail hunters and their dogs. It’s a look at the culture of the “dogman,” a title bestowed on the best of the best dog handlers.
Led by Durrell Smith, the host of the Gun Dog Notebook podcast, “Dogmen” looks at the culture of the dogman and how it went from a utilitarian role on the pre-Civil War plantation to a means of earning a living and surviving during reconstruction to a tight-knit brotherhood of dogmen and landowners throughout the South today. In a part of the country that has historically been at the epicenter of race issues, it shares a peek into a culture where the woods, the shotgun and, most importantly, the dog makes everyone equal.
As Smith explains, in the post-war South it was critical for a newly freed slave to have a good bird dog, as that meant a source of income as a guide. It also meant that, with access to public land, it was a way to provide sustenance for the family. As staunch supporters of land access, this part of dogmen history resonates deeply at onX Hunt.
The company believes that everyone should have access to nature and that when people feel connected to the land, they are more likely to protect it. Publicly accessible land plays a critical role in equalizing everyone’s access to outdoor recreation, and that’s why onX Hunt has made a commitment to help protect public access to the outdoor recreation that exists and to advocate for more access for everyone. We see that play out in the history of and the future of dogmen.
Be sure to view “Dogmen” and explore the past, present and future of African American dog handlers on quail plantations in the Deep South through the eyes of an up-and-coming dog trainer and advocate for inclusion in the outdoors.
As the founder of the Voice of Leadership (VOL) Panel, I was so moved by the passion of “Dogmen” that I thought it should be covered in the VOL series of articles being featured on The Hunting Wire and on the NRA Hunters’ Leadership Forum website, NRAHLF.org. Dogmen is both an education in the diversity of our hunting heritage and a reminder that while we as hunters may have uniquely different histories, passions and heritages, in the end, what matters most is the one thing we all have in common: We are all hunters. As we continue to grow as a hunting community, I ask that we all please take the time to find out more about each other. We will grow closer as one community, which will equip us best against those who wish to divide, then weaken and then finally eliminate our freedom to hunt.
2021-2022 The Hunting Wire Voice of Leadership Panel
The Voice of Leadership Panel is an appointed group of outdoor industry leaders who have volunteered to contribute their voices on key hunting and outdoor recreation issues to inform, inspire, and educate participants within our community.
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