AP photo by Joe Songer|
Former Auburn assistant coach Joe Whitt sits with his pointers Bo 2, left, and Bo 1, during a quail hunt near Clanton. As Auburn's assistant athletics director in charge of development, he's bagging donors on trips to hunt and fish, rather than in the boardroom.
Ex-AU assistant now bags donors outdoors
CLANTON (AP) — Former Auburn University linebackers coach Joe Whitt loves the outdoors, but he didn't get to enjoy it as often as he wanted during his 25 years with the football program.
Now he's Auburn's assistant athletics director in charge of development, with the job of raising money for AU's master athletics plan, including new basketball, tennis and swimming venues. But as much as he can, he bags donors while bagging fish and game in the outdoors, avoiding the boardroom if possible.
"I let people know that what interests them interests me," he said. "I may go hunting and fishing with them. If they say they are going hunting or fishing, I ask them to take me or I take them. I may go horseback riding with them because that's another one of my loves."
Just last week he was outlining some of Auburn's needs to executives from the Texas-based sporting goods giant Academy Sports and Outdoors. Talk about a donation was frequently interrupted by bird dogs on point.
Watching a good hunting dog at work is one of Whitt's passions, but football tended to limit his enjoyment of it.
"The quail season ended in February 20 years ago, so with football and recruiting we really only had a couple of weeks where we could quail hunt," he told The Birmingham News in a story Sunday. "When they started to let us hunt released birds through March 31, it helped a whole lot."
Whitt, who co-owns a farm outside Auburn with former Auburn coach James Daniel, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers, has horses, bird dogs and a 10-acre lake. He was raised in the Mobile area but learned to hunt quail, rabbits and squirrels with dogs from a grandfather in rural Dallas County.
He said people often express surprise at seeing a black quail hunter who owns and train quail hunting dogs and hunts from horseback. But he told the News that when he was growing up it was common for blacks to quail hunt, he said.
"I think there are probably more black quail hunters than most people are aware of, but it has become a land opportunity issue," he said. "It was a wide-open sport for everybody in the 1940s and 1950s when everything was open range, but then the wealthy began buying up the land.
"It has turned into a rich man's game and now the blacks and whites that are poor or don't quite have the means have a tough time quail hunting."
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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