|Vol. IV, No. 3, Winter 1991|
The Ozarks wilderness has attracted hunters and fishermen from the time of the first Euro-American contact in the eighteenth century until the present. Indeed, evidence exists that the great pre-historic Native American urban cultures of the Mississippi Valley sent hunters on seasonal forays into the nearby Ozarks. Game and fish in its abundance have been used two ways: as a means of sustenance, and as a means of recreation. The motives may mix (see Don Holliday on beehunting and Swiney Ray-field on gigging). But beginning in earnest by the late nineteenth century, they tended to be separated, and to differentiate "native" and "sport" hunters and fishermen into two distinct groups.
The Aurora Fishing Club members, though residents of the Ozarks, were in the second group, as is evidenced by their dress, their club house, and their organization. Those in the photo not in middle class dress are probably johnboatmen, cooks, or other camp employees, likely "natives."
The history of the Ozarks divides into many histories, and many kinds of history; but the division between natives and everyone else is constant. To say that natives sought food in the wilderness without sport or that True Sportsmen did not put the contents of reel or bag on the table, would be false. Still, differences there were--and are.
This issue of OzarksWatch explores both sides of the subject of who, how, and why people hunt and fish in the Ozarks.
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