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Early Southern Sports and Sportsmen, 1830-1910: A Literary Anthology

Early Southern Sports and Sportsmen, 1830-1910: A Literary Anthology

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Early Southern Sports and Sportsmen, 1830-1910: A Literary Anthology

349 pagine
5 ore
Nov 18, 2014


Jacob F. Rivers III has collected twenty-two classic hunting tales by twelve southern writers including Davey Crocket, Johnson J. Hooper, and Henry Clay Lewis. These stories spring not only from a genteel literary tradition but also from the tradition of the tall tale or stories of backwoods humor. Antebellum and post–Civil War tales reflect changes in the social and economic composition of the hunting class in the South. Some reveal themes of fear for the future of field sports, and others demonstrate an early conservation ethic among hunters and landowners.

Early Southern Sports and Sportsmen brings to new readers a wealth of hunting and fishing lore heretofore hard to find by any but scholars in the field of southern literature. Rivers has gathered a host of well-read and well-heeled sportsmen who relish each and every detail of their encounters with their environment. Sports authors come from every spectrum of southern society, but their common vocabulary and shared enthusiasm bond them together.

Rivers corrects unfortunate stereotypes of hunters as indifferent to aspects of nature other than environmental exploitation. Whether humorists or serious advocates, these authors reveal their sense of their place in the wild, and many advocate ecological good citizenship that disdains wanton slaughter and unethical practices. They condemn such acts as beneath the dignity and honor of true sportsmen.

The collection includes accounts of hunting many types of game indigenous to the South from 1830 to 1910, from aristocratic foxhunts to yeoman deer drives. The structure is largely chronological, beginning with John James Audubon’s essay on the American wild turkey from his Ornithological Biography (1832) and ending with stories from Alexander Hunter’s The Huntsman in the South (1908). Whatever their era, the chief characteristics of these sporting accounts are the excitement the authors experience upon suddenly encountering game, the rigors and hardships they endure in its pursuit, their keen powers of observation of the woods and waters through which they travel, and the comedy often found in the strong friendships that frequently mark their adventures. But above all the tales resonate with a reverence for field sports as the means through which humans establish meaningful and lasting relationships with the mysteries and the magic of nature.
Nov 18, 2014

Informazioni sull'autore

Jacob F. Rivers III spent much of his youth hunting and fishing in the South Carolina lowcountry. He serves as the director of the Office of Veterans Services at the University of South Carolina and teaches Themes in American Writing in the Department of English. Rivers is the author of Cultural Values in the Southern Sporting Narrative (University of South Carolina Press).

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Early Southern Sports and Sportsmen, 1830-1910 - Jacob F. Rivers, III



Chief among the literary genres that depict the southern reverence for the natural landscape is the work of the literate sportsmen of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Affluent and well educated, they were nature writers who articulated communal values through their stories about hunting and fishing. The best of their sporting narratives reveal a deep involvement with the natural world and its importance to southerners, both real and as characters.

While the excitement of the chase and the appreciation of nature are themes common to southern sporting writers of all generations, the artistic and environmental sensitivity of these authors has often been undervalued. This is unfortunate for several reasons. During the particular period of American history covered by this anthology, the serious sporting essay was the primary form of nature writing. Even the scientific exactitude of John James Audubon’s Ornithological Biography (1832) reveals its well-known author’s dependence on practicing the hunter’s craft in order to understand the subtleties of his subjects. In his selection reprinted here on the American wild turkey, we see the work of the noted ornithologist as he discovered the details of their secretive lives through his total involvement with the hunt.

Faithfully reflecting their author’s view of life as both highly competitive and dangerously uncertain, the writers included here accepted the struggle for survival in the natural world as an inescapable reality that permeated the physical and philosophic fabric of their own lives. In contrast to the great wave of nineteenth-century Romanticism that sought to celebrate nature as a sylvan glade immune from what were often harsh realities, the authors reprinted here portrayed the ritual confrontation with death in the hunt with the same honor and fidelity that they gave to any other dignified undertaking. In the opening pages of Alexander Hunter’s The Huntsman in the South (1908), he voiced their post-Darwinian view that the lives of all wild animals necessarily end in tragedy: It is the inexorable law of Nature that all living creatures prey upon one another. By beak, talons, and claw the fight was commenced, and it will only end when this world is no more. To say that sporting is a cruel pastime is to ignore the fact that all fin, fur, and feathers batten upon one another, and if the rifle or gun did not end their days, they would be killed anyway (11).

Perhaps because of their frank acceptance of natural laws that posits death as the perquisite for life and rebirth, and perhaps because of the growing urban population’s increasing distance from the realities of the rural landscape, nonhunters, and most literary critics, have disdained and misunderstood hunting narratives. In the nineteenth-century South, the serious sporting essay nevertheless played a central cultural role that expressed southerners’ views of themselves as extensions of a living environment to which they felt closely bound. For these men and women, hunting provided a way to reenter the natural world and to feel what Bruce Dickson has called an otherwise inexpressible sense of what it meant to be a part of something as awesome as nature (273). In my earlier Cultural Values in the Southern Sporting Narrative (2002), I argued that those persons who practice field sports responsibly are among the most compassionate and sensitive aficionados of the natural world, not only because they regret its wholesale exploitation, but also because their engagement with the land and its game has enabled them to reenter the primitive unity of nature and man [and to] comprehend something of man’s felt responsibility to his surroundings—to the elements of the natural world as well as to his human peers (xiv–xv). As Archibald Rutledge concluded in the final pages of An American Hunter (1937), sport hunting is perfectly compatible with the deepest and most genuine love of nature (144). While few of the writers in the twenty-two selections reprinted here articulate these truths in formal terminology, the portrayals of their sporting heroes in perfect rapport with their environment go far beyond any technical explanation in illustrating these themes. More than anything else, the present collection reveals that the return to nature through the hunt offers one of the surest pathways to a positive environmental awareness that draws on the intricate complexities of nature for spiritual regeneration.

Tacitly affirming the universality of a sporting code that valued the nation’s natural resources for reasons other than their material worth, northern novelists have also portrayed the contempt that serious hunters and fishermen had for wanton environmental exploitation. In The Pioneers (1823), no less a literary figure than James Fenimore Cooper contrasted Leather-stocking’s conservative ethos against the profit-minded townspeople. Squarely aligned with the tenets of good sportsmanship advocated by the present collection’s contributors, Natty criticizes his neighbors for their slaughter of the wild pigeons as wasteful to kill twenty and eat one, warning them, like a modern-day Jeremiah, that the Lord won’t see the waste of his creatures for nothing, and right will be done to the pigeons, as well as others, by-and-by (246). Natty continues in the following chapter by denouncing the townspeople’s profligate netting of the lake’s bass as sinful and wasty to catch more than can be eat (266).

Others approached the natural world differently. Although Henry David Thoreau did not originate writing about nature in American, he was one of the earliest to link environmental and social concerns. In Walden (1854), Thoreau explicitly set his retreat to Walden Pond within the growing controversy over chattel slavery, and his attempt to escape the negative effects of ambition, indebtedness, and drudgery resonates within the context of this larger social problem. Two decades later American environmental activism found another, more deliberate champion in John Muir, a close friend of Theodore Roosevelt and fellow disciple of the need to preserve the nation’s wilderness treasures. Muir’s The Yosemite (1912) did much to initiate a tradition of environmental activism by passionately denouncing plans to flood the Hetch Hetchy valley in California in order to create a water reservoir for the city of San Francisco. Although Cooper, Thoreau, and Muir were not primarily concerned with field sports, they shared with the authors in this volume a highly developed sense of environmental responsibility and a reverence and respect for the land.

Together with their unblinking acceptance of nature’s life-and-death struggles, the present authors were also keenly attuned to the charm of her unblemished wilderness scenery. In The Falls of the Blackwater, Phillip Pendleton Kennedy’s unwitting narrator is surprised into a spontaneous celebration of nature. Having travelled for days through an uncharted section of Virginia wilderness in search of a series of legendary waterfalls, followed by a sleepless night in the rain, the jaded narrator suddenly finds himself transfixed by the unexpected natural beauty of the scene around him: The wilderness was rich everywhere with hues of all dyes, and the banks of the river gleamed for miles with the flowers of the rhododendron. A scene of more enchantment it would be difficult to imagine. The forest with its hues of all shades of green—the river of delicate amber, filled with flakes of snow-white foam—and the splendor of the rhododendron everywhere in your eye. Picture all this in the mind—then remember that you were far beyond the limits of the world you had known—and say, was it of heaven, or was it of earth!" (124–25).

During the same period, authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe developed the short story genre. Many of the sporting authors represented here were also conscious artists, well aware of the requirements of their genre and at pains to make their writing engaging for contemporary audiences. As William Elliott stated in A Wild-Cat Hunt in Carolina, But it is a cold thing, to tell over the same incidents to an unexcited third party; and a difficult thing, where a word too little makes you vague, and a word too much makes you tedious—so to tell them as to make your story please (141). While capitalizing on what Thomas Bangs Thorpe called "the intrinsic merit in the subjects associated with the forest which took place of style or manner of composition (8), the stories collected here reflect their authors’ shared goal of expressing what it was like for them to reaffirm their kinship with nature. As Bruce Dickson has astutely observed of the genre: the total involvement of the experience as much as the actual kill . . . provided the sense of being a natural man" (276). Whether the present writers take us after trout in the Virginia Mountains, panthers in the Louisiana Swamplands, or ducks in the Florida Everglades, their deliberate artistic renderings consistently draw our attention to the sportsman’s complete and total engagement with nature through the excitement of the chase. As José Ortega y Gasset explains in his Meditations on Hunting (1942): the hunt alone permits us the greatest luxury of all, the ability to enjoy a vacation from the human condition through an authentic immersion in Nature (139).

Central also to this genre is a moral sensitivity to environmental citizenship. The first book published in the United States that was exclusively concerned with field sports, The American Shooter’s Manual (1827), calls on the sportsman to exercise the finest points of fair play and conservation of game in the field. The selections here reveal that while their authors were writing about blood sports that have fascinated American readers for generations, their characters nevertheless return from their adventures afield refreshed by a new and deeper appreciation of their natural environment. Through their highly developed awareness of their responsibility to the natural world, these sportsmen came to view ethical conduct afield as an integral part of the larger, older, aristocratic ideal of personal honor.

Except for a small handful of specialist scholars and collectors, few contemporary readers have seen more than the briefest excerpts from this wealth of neglected sporting lore. For better or for worse, these writers have been squeezed out of the academy’s canon and curriculum. Moreover, the once widely read backwoods humor and tall tales by men such as Johnson Hones Hooper, Thomas Bangs Thorpe, and Henry Clay Lewis stereotyped hunters, reducing their sporting protagonists into comic caricatures. Both Thorpe and Hooper made major contributions to the tall tale genre, most notably Thorpe’s The Big Bear of Arkansas (1854) and Hooper’s Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs (1845), but they also published serious sporting essays. Both the tone and substance of Hooper’s The Gentleman’s Amusement and On the Shooting of Quail reveal his involvement with and compassion for the natural world that surrounded him. A disciple of Henry William Herbert’s code of proper sporting etiquette, he endorsed it passionately as the best way for a sensitive intellect to demonstrate his admiration and respect for the game. And in Thorpe’s Wild Turkey Hunting, his intricate knowledge of the habits and habitat of the great birds has revealed his accomplished woodcraft; like Audubon, learning how to hunt allowed him to enter into the psyche of the very turkeys he pursued. An important part of what this volume accomplishes is to provide ready access to examples of the best work of the South’s early sporting authors, regardless of their other literary achievements. These early hunter-naturalists explored themes and told tales that look forward to the twentieth-century South Carolina sporting writers Archibald Rutledge, Henry E. Davis, and Havilah Babcock.

Many of the writers in this volume had direct ties to the antebellum South and had witnessed firsthand the defeat and destruction of their region in the American Civil War. In spite of the war’s trauma, their love for the exhilaration of the sports of the field remained. As Alexander Hunter has explained, throughout these mutations the love of sport has survived all changes, all vicissitudes (84). Like Hunter the writers collected here shared with their literary descendants and fellow sportsmen a deep affection for nature, and their efforts identify the serious hunting narrative as a major factor in bringing the written and print culture of Europe to the New World. As well as sporting essays, these are also works of literature that form an important part of a much larger movement that sought to establish a distinctively American and southern cultural identity.

I have selected those authors and stories that reflect some of the continuities in hunting. Many contemporary sportsmen date the origins of hunting in America from the arrival of the English colonists along the New England coastline during the early seventeenth century. The stalwart Puritans of Plymouth Plantation serving venison and wild turkey at their first Thanksgiving Celebration stands prominently as the iconic image of the first American hunters.

That tradition continued in the lives of many famous Americans north and south. The works of William Byrd of Westover (1674–1744) attests to his passion for the sports of the field, and fellow Virginian George Washington (1732–1799) loved nothing better than fox hunting and riding to the hounds. Although the bitter losses of the Civil War darkened his portrayal of hunters and hunting, South Carolinian William Gilmore Simms included them in many of his published works, most prominently in The Golden Christmas (1852) and The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the Old North State (1869).

A second context associates the origins of American hunting culture with the adventures of frontiersmen such as Daniel Boone and Meriwether Lewis, men whose exploits as hunters were so widely publicized and celebrated that the independence, self-reliance, and resourcefulness of the wilderness hunter became what Daniel Herman called a certificate of cultural authenticity and an integral part of the communal national character (4). This second major school of thought is represented here by the work of David Crockett. In Bear Hunting in Tennessee, Crockett gave his readers a full measure of the dangers and hardships these early hunters had to face. His account of his fight with the bear, alone and at night, and his struggle to save himself from freezing suggest the kinds of stalwart, real-life qualities that earned him a prominent role in the American iconography.

Long before the European settlers began to establish permanent communities along the shoreline of eastern North America, Native American tribesmen had been practicing and perfecting the field arts of hunting and fishing for untold thousands of years. The earliest Native Americans hunted primarily to procure food and clothing, but they also associated prowess in the chase with masculinity and power and not infrequently with divine approval. Early pioneers in the South such as William Bartram, Mark Catesby, and John Lawson had all learned hunting lore from Native Americans. Admiring their woodcraft and skill in hunting inordinately, these pioneers drew the Indians into the national story by celebrating their accomplishments afield and by creating their image as noble savages, superior beings whose natural aristocracy transcended European standards of formal education and refinement.

Judging from the abundance of game that confronted the early colonists, Native American subsistence hunting had little detrimental effect on either the larger species of game such as buffalo, deer, and bear or on the smaller species such as turkey, squirrel, or waterfowl. What upset this environmental balance was hunting for trade once the commercial demand for meat and skins prompted the Native Americans to hunt for profit instead of for food and sport. Coupled with much-improved firearms, overhunting by both Native Americans and the European colonists quickly depleted game supplies in the vicinity of well-established settlements. Such market-hunting predations began a long history of abuse and exploitation that would evolve into the slaughter of the buffalo in the West and of waterfowl in the East. Extinctions caused by such activity were infamous, but it was the love of profit and not the love of sport that fueled these environmental atrocities.

The late 1800s saw the nation’s first great reaction against the industrial slaughter of American fauna, sponsored by conservation-minded sportsmen such as Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and George Bird Grinnell. Because of these prominent sportsmen and the army of hunters and fishermen who organized to support their pioneering efforts, concern for the natural environment grew rapidly into national prominence. Through their experiences in the field and engagement with the natural life of the American landscape, these sportsmen came to value the nation’s flora and fauna for more than their material worth. They also had begun to realize how rapidly market gunners and land developers were destroying these nonrenewable resources. Many of the writers included here not only shared that concern but also took action to manifest their beliefs in the public arena. As John F. Reiger revealed in American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation, prominent attorney and businessman Charles E. Whitehead "successfully prosecuted, in 1858, a New York City restaurateur for selling woodcock out of season (43). Whitehead went on to lead the movement to introduce and to pass An Act for the Preservation of Moose, Wild Deer, Birds and Fish" in the New York state legislature in 1860. Much later, as Alexander Hunter has reminded us in the closing pages of The Huntsman in the South, as a member of the Virginia legislature, he framed and formed the first game laws of the state (314). Alarmed at the vanishing flocks and herds that had once seemed inexhaustible, these hunter-naturalists adopted the conservation-minded tenets of the Code of Good Sportsmanship that writers such as Henry William Herbert (Frank Forester) imported from the British sporting press in his Field Sports in the United States and the British Provinces of America (1848).

Because they codified and transposed many of the region’s preexisting cultural values into the formal language of proper sporting etiquette, these tenets took root and flourished in the well-heeled sporting circles of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century South. From them grew a body of sporting literature that emphasized respect for the land and game, a reverential approach to the world of nature as a whole, and a strong sense of duty to conduct oneself afield with moral no less than with environmental responsibility. In due course such moral commitment led to the kinds of informed, sensitive, and responsible hunting laws required for enlightened wildlife management.

It should therefore not be surprising that the nation’s prominent sportsmen initiated the first great movement to conserve our nation’s reserves of wild game. Alone among their political and entrepreneurial equals, they had grown through their sporting adventures to consider themselves integral, indigenous parts of the natural American landscape. In his famous poem written for the inaugural ceremony for John F. Kennedy, the speaker in Robert Frost’s The Gift Outright reminds us that it took time to establish this vital connection: The land was ours before we were the land’s / She was our land more than a hundred years / Before we were her people (348). Popular images of the American hunter in the nineteenth century, including prominent frontier hunters such as Meriwether Lewis, Daniel Boone, and David Crockett, helped many Americans to feel that they were as entitled to the land as much as were the Native Americans they had displaced. In Hunting and the American Imagination, Daniel Herman stated the matter succinctly: The image of the nineteenth-century hunter heroes—wearing moccasins and buckskins, carrying a Kentucky rifle, and educated in the school of nature—suggested a new aborigine. This man—the American Native—became the symbolic heir of the American Indian. . . . courageous men who, like Indians had sprung from the American soil (7).

Sporting conservationists faced different challenges in the South than those found in the West. In the unenclosed and publicly owned vastness of the West, a dedicated hunter-naturalist with the political connections and public endorsement of President Theodore Roosevelt (1901–9) could lead the fight that resulted in the addition of 148 million acres to the national forest reserves, where game could be managed and conserved. In the South, however, especially in the rice- and cotton-growing country of the Southeast, things were quite different. The land there was already privately owned, much of it in the form of large plantations. Private ownership and the rural and agricultural nature of the primary industry had prevented the kind of potential exploitation and development that threatened what became such national treasures as Yellowstone National Park. In the bitter aftermath of the Civil War and the plantations’ sale for unpaid taxes to wealthy northern industrialists, one might have expected rapid and unchecked development, but that was not the case. Instead many of the men who purchased the plantations did so because they wanted to possess some of the finest hunting land in the nation. While the attractive land prices made the investments appealing, a veritable army of well-heeled northern sportsmen seized on the opportunity to enjoy for themselves the magnificent sporting prerogatives that had once belonged only to the antebellum landed aristocracy.

The developments in lowcountry South Carolina provide a pertinent example. As Robert B. Cuthbert and Stephen G. Hoffius have explained in their excellent Northern Money, Southern Land (2009), the northern ownership stopped or delayed the denuding of South Carolina fields and proved a godsend for land [and game] preservation. The northern sportsmen had no intention of destroying the very paradise that their power and wealth had brought to them. As Cuthbert and Hoffius have stated: The new owners wanted most of their land left exactly as they found it: open woods, fields protected for the birds, waters undammed and unpolluted. They were true conservationists, if not environmentalists (xxii). Though the rapid development and the breaking up of these private game reserves, once proudly held, has changed the landscape of lowcountry South Carolina considerably in latter days, the fact remains that the men who were able to buy and to preserve the great antebellum plantations were themselves hunters, ardent sportsmen who shared the same reverence and respect for the land and the game that inspired the better-known efforts of Roosevelt and his friends.

The narratives in the present collection illustrate the concern of these early sportsmen for conservation and responsible behavior afield, but they also depict the sportsman’s total involvement with the natural world through the excitement of his encounter with game. This kind of unmistakable, nearly mystical quality comes through in accounts by even the less-gifted narrator; in the hands of the talented writers included here it rises to the level of high literary art. This variety of intensity and excitement, as heady for modern readers as it was for our antebellum predecessors, not only provides us with a reprieve from workaday headaches and cares but also a level of involvement with the natural world that is not easy to come by otherwise. Describing his feelings during the headlong chase in A Wild-Cat Hunt in Carolina, William Elliott provided a sense of how engaging a hunt can be: "There they go—look at them!—listen to them! Huntsmen, is it not charming? Does it not make your pulse quicken? Is there not a thrill of pleasure shooting through your frame? Can you tell your name? Have you a wife? A child? Have you a neck? If you can, at such a moment, answer questions such as these, you do not feel your position and are but half a sportsman!" (147).

The successful sportsman’s identification with the game he pursues also brings him a higher level of environmental awareness and compassion for his quarry, a respectful regard that manifests itself in the gospel of fair play. In his present essay, On the Shooting of Quail, Johnson Jones Hooper clearly transcended the moral vacuity of his famous villain, Captain Simon Suggs, when he upbraided those who would take quail by trapping them in nets:

Perhaps I shall have no better opportunity than just in this connection, to express the contempt which every well-bred man must view the practice of taking quail in nets. . . . the thing itself is so vile an outrage upon all sportsmanship, humanity, and magnanimity that no man who knows better ought to countenance his best neighbor if he will not discontinue it. We have now in Eastern Alabama a great abundance of quail, except in certain netting locations. When they are taken in that way, the bird is absolutely swept away, in particular neighborhoods. I have known a thousand birds captured within a week, by two or three parties using these infernal machines during a cold, sleety spoil of weather when the quail is always loathe to take wing" (60).

It was such experience that led the well-heeled, well-read, dedicated sportsmen of the late nineteenth century to push for laws to conserve and to regulate the decimation of our nation’s wildlife at the time. Even today hunters and anglers fund the major conservation projects involving fish and game, and sportsmen who are also political activists such as Rick Bass and Barry Lopez have demonstrated that their activism can affect how our great national resources are used. The modern sports of hunting and fishing still offer their practitioners the best opportunities to reenter the natural world on a deeper, more meaningful level of understanding that fosters both a reverence and a respect for the environment.


Bass, Rick. Colter: The True Story of the Best Dog I Ever Had. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.

———. Wild to the Heart. New York: Norton, 1987.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Pioneers. 1823. Ed. James Franklin Beard. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980.

A Gentleman of Philadelphia County. The American Shooter’s Manual. Philadelphia: Carey, Lee, and Carey, 1827.

Cuthbert, Robert B. and Stephen G. Hoffius, eds. Northern Money, Southern Land: The Lowcountry Plantation Sketches of Chlotilde R. Martin. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2009.

Dickson, Bruce. "Hunting: Dimensions of Antebellum Southern Culture." Mississippi Quarterly 30 (Spring 1977): 259–81.

Elliott, William. A Wild-Cat Hunt in Carolina. Carolina Sports by Land and Water. 1846. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1994. 142–51.

Frost, Robert. The Gift Outright. In The Poetry of Robert Frost. Ed. Edward Connery Lathem. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1979. 348.

Herbert, Henry William [Frank Forester]. Field Sports in the United States, and the British Provinces of America. 2 vols. London: R Bentley, 1848.

Herman, Daniel. Hunting and the American Imagination. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institute Press, 2001.

Hunter, Alexander. The Sportsman in the South. New York: Neal Publishing Company, 1908.

Hooper, Johnson Jones. Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs, Late of the Tallapoosa Volunteers. 1845. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993.

———. On the Shooting of Quail. Dog and Gun: A Few Loose Chapters on Shooting, among Which Will Be Found Some Anecdotes and Incidents. 1856. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1992.

Lopez, Barry. Arctic Dreams: Imagination and Desire in a Northern Landscape. New York: Scribner, 1986.

Ortega y Gasset, José. Meditations on Hunting. 1942. Trans. Howard B. Wescott. New York: Scribner, 1972.

Reiger, Jon F. American Sportsmen and the Origins of Conservation. 3rd ed. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2001.

Rivers, Jacob F. Cultural Values in the Southern Sporting Narrative. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002.

Rutledge, Archibald. Why I Taught My Boys to Be Hunters. An American Hunter. New York: Frederick A Stokes Company, 1937. 141-149.

Muir, John. The Yosemite. New York: Century, 1912.

Simms, William Gilmore. The Cub of the Panther: A Hunter Legend of the Old North State. 1869. Ed. Miriam Jones Shillingsburg. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1997.

———. The Golden Christmas: A Chronicle of St. John’s, Berkeley. 1852. Ed. David Aiken. North Charleston, S.C.: Fletcher and Fletcher Publishing, 1994.

Thorpe, Thomas Bangs. The Big Bear of Arkansas. The Hive of the Bee Hunter. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1854. 72–93.

John James Audubon


America’s most famous ornithologist was born in Les Cayes, San Domingo, to Jean Audubon, a retired merchant, planter, and French naval officer, and Jeanne Rabin, the servant of a retired San Domingo attorney. Audubon’s education in Nantes, France, where his father sent him in 1788, was undistinguished by any type of artistic training that might have revealed to himself and his teachers the great talent that would revolutionize all subsequent painting of birds throughout the known world. At Mill Grove, the two hundred–acre plantation near Philadelphia where his father sent him in 1803 to avoid the French military draft, Audubon spent much of his time hunting and drawing the game birds and animals that he found there in abundance. In 1807 he married Lucy Blakewell, the daughter of an English neighbor, despite her father’s concern about the young Audubon’s ability as a businessman. Although Audubon’s reputation rests primarily on The Birds of America, from Original Drawings (1827–1838), he published other volumes of paintings and prints, most notably his Ornithological Biography, or, an Account of the Habits of the Birds of the United States of America

The Wild Turkey

The great size and beauty of the Wild Turkey, its value as a delicate and highly prized article of food, and the circumstance of its being the origin of the domestic race now generally dispersed over both continents, render it one of the most interesting of the birds indigenous to the United States of America.

The unsettled parts of the States of Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana, an immense extent of country to the north-west of these districts, upon the Mississippi and Missouri, and the vast regions drained by these rivers from their confluence to Louisiana, including the wooded parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Alabama, are the most abundantly supplied with this magnificent bird. It is less plentiful in Georgia and the Carolinas, becomes still scarcer in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and is now very rarely seen to the eastward of the last mentioned States. In the course of my rambles through Long Island, the State of New York, and the

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