Georgia-based wingshooter, podcaster and non-profit founder receives annual award for bringing new participants to the sporting community
MANCHESTER, Vt. (July 15, 2021) —Durrell Smith, a bird hunter, podcast host, and co-founder of the Minority Outdoor Alliance, has been recognized by outdoor retailer Orvis with its Breaking Barriers Award for 2021. Created in 2015, the award honors individuals or organizations going above and beyond to bring new communities into fly fishing or wingshooting.
“Durrell Smith brings incredible passion, energy, and enthusiasm to the wingshooting and broader sporting and outdoor communities,” says Orvis President Simon Perkins. “Durrell followed a non-traditional path to bird hunting by getting his start later in life, and since doing so, he has built a deep network in our industry through his platform. His curiosity is infectious and his voice is inspiring, both of which provide meaningful content to people passionate about the outdoors, while creating important conversations on the future of the sports we all share and love. His love of bird dogs and the culture around the sport is represented in how he shows up within the industry, and absolutely embodies the spirit of our Breaking Barriers Award in his work to recruit and empower new bird hunters.”
Based in Atlanta, Smith co-founded the Minority Outdoor Alliance with his wife, Ashley, in 2020. The non-profit organization aims to “inspire folks from all backgrounds and ethnicities to participate in hunting, fishing, and all other active outdoor pursuits on safe and diverse public lands and waters.” Smith launched his popular podcast, The Gun Dog Notebook, in April 2017. In addition to a deep library of social-media content and more than 120 podcast episodes covering all manner of sporting topics, from field trials to interviews with interesting personalities, Smith has used the show and its platform to connect mentors with new wingshooters.
“It’s an honor to receive this award, and it comes from no shortage of support from my lovely wife and the strength of my family,” says Smith. “I know my kids are looking up to me, and my Momma (Chandra Price) and Grandmomma (Annie Jean) are looking down on me, all in support of my personal goals and mission. I think opportunities like this happen when you are constantly competing with yourself to inspire yourself to accomplish a dream and see your vision through. For this, I want to thank my good friends here at The Orvis Company for not only supporting me, but helping elevate my platform and utilizing it in the most responsible way possible. I hope by working with Orvis, we can inspire other individuals and organizations to do even greater things for representation, diversity, and inclusion in the active, sporting outdoors.”
In his award nomination, one community member noted Smith’s willingness and ability to communicate clearly and to collaborate on challenges facing the sporting communities:
Durrell has done a wonderful job engaging in hard conversations in a thoughtful, democratic fashion. He has used his platforms that are bird-hunting focused to discuss issues of race, exclusion, policing, guns, etc. out of a commitment to social responsibility. Though his work has stemmed a significant social media presence and exposure, and along with it some sponsorship opportunities, Durrell does not shy away from uncomfortable, honest conversations. He allows these conversations to happen without trepidation, and he listens thoughtfully to those who disagree with him. He swims confidently through snakey water with poise and calm, and his willingness to do so is emblematic of his broader approach to the work of promoting inclusivity in the hunt space.
Smith joins previous Breaking Barriers Awards winners, including Tracy Nguyen-Chung, founder of Brown Folks Fishing (2019); Jess Westbrook of The Mayfly Project (2017); and 2015 co-winners Lori-Ann Murphy of Reel Women Fly Fishing Adventures and Chad Brown from Soul River, Inc.
Orvis is currently accepting nominations for the 2022 Breaking Barriers Award and is looking for those who are engaging new anglers or hunters and making the outdoors more accessible, inclusive, and equitable.