I heard a black powder rifle go off yesterday behind my house and it made me smile. It took me back to times when I stay in rural Virginia with my grandmother. Hunting in America is still a timeless and beautiful tradition. The people that brave the weather conditions, enjoy the pursuit, and endure the time sitting motionless with a gun are representatives of what is good in our country. Almost all the hunters that I know have a strong belief system and appreciation for life. There is a subset of hunters however that not much is known about. These are the Americans of African descents that hunt.
Believer or not, black people hunt. If the African American population comprises only 12.6% of country, statistically only 2% hunt. This is may be a niche of a niche but one that if I follow the numbers contains 778,586 people in it. To me, that is still a lot of potential for the shooting, outdoor and trade show markets. African Americans have been hunting for food in the South since before the Civil War. It is more of a sport today. Before that it was survival. Many men had to “poach” game to feed their families in a time when gun ownership was at worst illegal for a person of color, or they didn’t own the land to hunt on. Today, it still comes down to land. One of the reasons for the lack of hunters of color is a land issue. Hunting is still a family thing. All the black hunters I know, do so on privately own land that has been in their families for generations.
Gun ownership for the black hunters of my childhood was not celebrated as much as it is today. The guns and rifles were like the axes and chainsaws they had. I remember seeing half dozen squirrels, stripped of fur, and stretched out in my aunt’s kitchen sink soaking in brine. I remember the smell of those squirrels smothered in gravy that would make a cardiologist wince. I remember hunters knocking on the screened porch, sharing parts of Whitetail deer they had harvested that morning with my grandmother as they crossed her property. I remember wanting more venison than we had.
I hope to join the ranks of the hunters in 2013. I want to learn about preparing and cooking, as well as hunting fowl, small and big game. I need to be able to pass that on. I’ll be looking for black hunters in America to glean from in the coming weeks to have as guest on the Urban Shooter Podcast. By next year’s hunting season, I hope to be out there smiling too.