We watched the waves of brush, the trail along the tree line, a patch of bright winter-green grass in the clearing. "That's why they call it hunting," Donnell said, "and not shooting." DONNY ADAIR—A 60-YEAR-OLD man with diabetes, living in the largest city in Oregon—might seem like an unlikely champion for African Americans in the outdoors. When Donny goes to expositions and trade shows around the country, he says he's generally one of only two or three African Americans in attendance. "It can be a little lonely walking around for six hours and not seeing a face that looks like yours," he says. Not enough boys and girls in the African-American community grow up learning to hunt and fish, taking hunter-safety classes, enjoying the pleasures of the outdoors." Donny didn't grow up hunting, either.
Sometimes he'd be walking with a doe over his shoulder and hear the warden's truck. "Those white bellies are bright as a piece of paper at night," he said, adjusting his worn Dallas Cowboys cap and looking off."Sometimes I could feel the gravel kicked up from the truck tires on my back as he drove on past me." It was a cold morning.Every winter, Donny and Donnell fly from Oregon to Mississippi to see Donny's in-laws, get together with other black outdoorsmen, and hunt the magnificent whitetail bucks that grow wide and tall in the soybean fields and backwoods down here.The Adairs want you to know that, yes, black people in America do hunt, though they can seem as rare in the hook-and-bullet world as they do on ski slopes.In 2008, Donny started the African American Hunting Association.
Later that year, he bought a hi-def camcorder, asked his sons to help film and a friend to help edit, and started producing a labor of love called For each episode, Donny and Donnell, and sometimes Kenny, travel somewhere new to hunt or fish, often in the Northwest."You gotta be careful," he said in the hushed tones men use in blinds. It was the week before Christmas and we were in Louise, a small town in the heart of the flat, alluvial, portion of northwest Mississippi known as the Delta."As soon as you're looking down, sending a picture to your girl, that's when your deer pops up." He sent the picture. Donnell made the same trip last year but never got a chance to shoot his gun. I was on a hunting trip with Donnell and his father, Donny Adair, the founder and president of the African American Hunting Association, a Portland, Oregon–based group that promotes participation in outdoor sports through a Web site and a small-budget TV show.The theme song, written and performed by Kenny, is a rap with these lyrics: It's The African American Hunting Show! From his early twenties on, he fed his wife and three daughters with his rifle.If it wasn't a deer he brought home, it was a rabbit or a squirrel or a fat raccoon.All afternoon we sat 20 feet above the ground, in a stand made of warped plywood and sliding windows taken off an old school bus.