There are a lot of myths about black outdoorsmen. On Wednesday November 17, 2004 the article “More African Americans are starting to feel the thrill of the hunt” was published in the Kansas City Star, written by Brent Frazee. It was an article that when read by many African Americans created a lot of confusion.
We had a great number of fans and viewers of our TV program, Urban American Outdoors, called us and expressed their concerns over the article, feeling it misrepresented them. Of course, our first response was that we were not responsible for what the ‘Star’ wrote in their newspaper. Everybody can put their own spin on things, but I will address the legitimate concerns of our viewers.
The first mistake was when the author of the article stated in the title, “starting to feel the thrill.” African Americans had the thrill long before they started taking statistics on our hunting and fishing habits. We have been hunting from the beginning of time. My family, like a lot of black families of the past, owned farms and tilled and hunted on their land. I grew up in the city, but a lot of my family maintained their rural roots and hunted.
Wayne and his family members have never stopped his family tradition of being in the outdoors hunting and fishing, for Wayne it’s like breathing. He went hunting with his grandfather Daddy Bob or his Uncle Wilson and Aunt Judy since he was 6years old. Daddy Bobs’ first lesson would be to always give the game a running chance. African Americans have generally hunted more out of necessity as oppose to sport. If we were going to survive on this land, we better hunt, fish and gather or do what you had to do to eat.
It is like so many things about African American culture, it’s invisible, it’s not seen so it doesn’t exist. So naturally when something is written about us by others, it sometimes offends our sensibilities because, the proper research and respect is just not there. African Americans and Tennessee Hillbillies are often associated with only hunting squirrel, rabbit or coon. This, of course, is another myth; I don’t know about Tennessee Hillbillies but African Americans do and always have hunted and cooked venison.
Many of our callers had their stories about when they were younger going out to deer hunt with their fathers or grandfathers. One lady in particular recounted, while living in New England over fifty years ago, tells how her father would prop her up against the tree, to hold her steady to take her shot of her deer with her fathers’ rifle. Another lady told me she could out shoot the men in her family and she would often go deer hunting and bring home their dinner, money wasn’t an issue because she didn’t have a big expensive firearm or the latest camouflage clothes.
One gentleman told me who was in his seventies, that his grandfather had land and he took him and his brothers hunting and fishing all the time and he also said his uncle was a major fur trapper. Deer hunting is not new for Black folk, and it’s not new for African American Women either.
In the Article by Brent Frazee it also touched on racial intimidation in the woods. It stated, “In the 1990’s Officials with the Missouri Department of Conservation was concerned about a lack of participation from minorities in outdoors sports and conducted surveys to find out why. The findings? African Americans cited fear of racial intimidation, random violence and the outdoors in general”. This quote affected our audience more than anything. African American stated emphatically that they are not intimidated by anyone and we even had a couple of our white audience state that they were not racist and would not harass African Americans in the woods. One said in the woods you find a kinship, we have the love of hunting and the outdoors in common and that means a lot more than any differences, he also stated he knew African Americans fished and hunted, but he was glad to see more African American out there.
He said he was also happy to watch our show weekly which depicts us being out there. He pointed out that diversity would be the key to keeping the Outdoor tradition strong and I totally agree with this guy. The KC Star told us they had no intention of offending any one by this story and that they meant only for it to be a positive article about African Americans hunting. They did have two credible and respected African American outdoor experts Gary Davis who is with the Western Missouri Shooters and David Wyatt an outdoor skills supervisor for the Department of Conservation, who is a personal friend and college, and a little data from the Department of Conservation. Brent Frazee even said he would soon be doing an individual article about our show Urban American Outdoors, which was another issue brought up. Our fans questioned why the KC Star didn’t ask Urban American Outdoors their opinion about the new trend of African Americans hunting. It seemed the appropriate thing to do since it is the only Outdoors program owned, hosted and locally produced by African Americans. It is also seen in over 90 markets nationally and has won thus far 10 broadcast industry awards in just the first year out.
We hope we have addressed most of the questions asked, we felt as though we owed our viewing public that. We at UAO are very appreciative with the supported feedback we received in the past and specifically on the KC Stars article. We love to hear from you. You can see the show on Wed. at 5:30pm, Sat. at 6:30am, and Sun at 7:30am on Time Warner Cable Metro Sports. Wayne Hubbard will continue to give a full view of the outdoors from a different perspective… like we say it’s Urban American Style.