The Mid-South Horse Review is pleased to announce its partnership of Hunt & Field with The Sporting Life Notebook.
Durrell Smith, a 33 year old Atlanta, Georgia native, is the owner, founder, and podcast host of The Sporting Life Notebook brand and media company. He is also the co-founder and president of the Minority Outdoor Alliance, a nonprofit organization focused on cultivating inclusivity for a healthier outside. Durrell is also a husband, father, conservationist, artist, brand ambassador, bird dog handler and trainer, horseman, and to say he is an outdoors enthusiast is an understatement.
1. Tell us about your background and what pulled you into the outdoors early on?
When I was just a child, I had a special place I called “The Garden of Eden” in my grandparents’, Annie Jean Smith and Elbert Wells (E.W.) Smith, backyard in Oakland City, Atlanta. There was a forest back there, and I spent a lot of time getting to know the outdoors, just roaming through the trees, building tepees, and stuff like that. My grandad gave me outdoor tools, like shovels and knives, I would use to build things. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was connecting with nature on a more spiritual level. I realize now that’s where the wonder came from.
My mom, Chandra Price, grew up in West End, Atlanta, and she spent a lot of time exposing me and my brother to new things, specifically horseback riding, being in the outdoors, and fine art, that would keep us out of the rough neighborhood she grew up in. These things really stuck with me. My mom passed away when I was only 12, but she set a good foundation for me.
2. Can you briefly describe your businesses? Did you consider any other careers?
I am the owner, founder, and host of The Sporting Life Notebook, a brand and media company that started as a podcast. I’m also the co-founder and President of the Minority Outdoor Alliance. The Sporting Life Notebook’s purpose was founded for the sake of bringing the unlikely to the outdoors. I was an unlikely case myself.
I began in Upland Hunting and Wing Shooting Space and documented my journey along the way, which eventually led to writing for a number of different outdoor magazines. I have since become an Orvis Endorsed Wingshooting Guide and Beretta USA Ambassador.
As far as other careers go, at one point I wanted to be a vet. I was an art teacher for 7 years. Teaching was a revealing experience, a great experience, a noble experience, but not for me long-term. Throughout my time teaching I was building The Gun Dog Notebook that evolved into The Sporting Life Notebook, detailing the lifestyle I’ve built and developed.
3. Who has supported you throughout this journey?
As I mentioned, my mom, Chandra, and my grandparents were huge supporters of all my work. My grandfather, E. W., is still around, and he actually helped me build my kennels. Those kennels are special to me for that reason. I actually get a meditative peace when I’m cleaning and doing kennel chores.
My wife, Ashley, has also been a great supporter. She allowed me the space to build this and trusted me to do it. My son, Avery, and daughter, August Ann, are very invested kids without even knowing. It was my dream as a parent to see them in this life with the dogs and the horses. It’s cool to see them living it.
4. How do horses fit in your life and business?
I love my dogs. Dogs are my foundation and starting point, but ever since I was a child, I had an alluring connection to horses. That’s just something I always wanted to have, and I’m glad it’s a part of my life. If I could hunt wild birds off horseback with pointers and setters every day, I absolutely would! As athletes, bird dogs really show themselves when there’s a horse involved. The entire experience comes together. Horses opened my eyes to that connection.
I have a 15.3hh, 10 year old Tennessee Walking Horse gelding named Bossman. He’s a trail horse; he’s my buddy; he’s a good dude. I greet him every morning and try to find time to ride in the evenings before I pick the kids up. My new Stubben saddle makes me want to ride even more!
5. Can you share why you feel it’s so important to get others outdoors?
First, conservation. We have to take care of this planet. Land, water, and habitat conservation all come together. The more hands on deck, more people outside equals more money, more activity, more engagement to preserve our landscape, improve it, and leave it better than we found it. Getting people outdoors creates, for me, ownership. We can’t really talk about making changes to the environment if we aren’t connected to it.
Secondly, to create a gateway, an opportunity to not dictate what the outdoors are for someone else, but to let them figure it out for themselves. Once they figure it out for themselves, they’ll become greater and more avid members. It looks different for everyone. My engagement and investment are my dogs and horse; that satisfies the greater purpose for me.
My greatest focus is bringing the unlikely to the outdoors. I want to create gateways for people to recognize how to do it, where to do it, how to do it safely, and to feel comfortable in that experience.
6. Anything else you would like to share? Any advice?
Do your due diligence and inspire. Animals inspire us. We should approach each other with the same type of carefulness and caution we would approach a horse we don’t know: with respect and a certain type of boundary and reverence for who that person is and what they bring to the table.
I want to use my platform not only to expand the Field Trial community, but to get new people in, unlikely participants, and we can do that through Hunt & Field magazine. We can inspire people to not only subscribe to the magazine, but participate and engage in the culture and traditions of the Sporting South. Through Field Trials, bird dogs, and horses, we can get people engaged.
To find out more about Durrell Smith and The Sporting Life Notebook, visit him on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or at TheSportingLifeNotebook.com. You can also see him in person at the Minority Outdoor Alliance Festival in McKinney Roughs Nature Park in Cedar Creek, Texas, October 13-14th. Tickets are on sale now at MinorityOutdoorAlliance.org.