Son of the South: Reminiscences of a Southern Sportsman

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Hardcover, 270 Pages.

A dedicated conservationist and a chair of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for eight of the fourteen years he served on the Commission, James Robert (Bob) Gordon was born to Walter Stewart Gordon and Ellen Stone Gordon on August 26, 1939, in Hamlet, North Carolina. Bob was born into a family of academics and sportsmanship (primarily bird dogs and show horses). His mother was a cum laude graduate of the University of South Carolina and taught Latin and algebra at Hamlet High School. His father (later known as "The Squire" for his numerous articles under the byline "The Squire" about older days in Hamlet) was a graduate of Hamlet High School and Davidson College, class of '27.

Much of the land near the Gordon homestead in Hamlet was vacant during those old times and the roads unpaved-perfect places to ride horseback and exercise the bird dogs. There were still quail around the small town. But, as time went on, roads were paved and barren fields developed, and wildlife moved elsewhere, which ultimately led Squire to purchase a 20-acre tract of land out of town. On this land located off Highway 177 south of Hamlet, a small horse farm was built, "The Ponderosa," which later became a hangout for friends.

Bob graduated from Hamlet High School in 1957, Davidson College in 1961, and UNC Law in 1964, passing the bar exam shortly thereafter. He practiced law briefly in Rockingham, North Carolina, until he received orders to report to Fort Benning, Georgia, for basic infantry training (He had an ROTC obligation from Davidson). Then came Vietnam where he was stationed in Saigon, arriving on Christmas Eve 1965 and serving for a year.

Upon his return home in October 1966 and after taking a couple months to catch up on missed days afield, then, and only then, did he start getting serious about life and law, or, as the jealous mistress of the latter, perhaps it should read "law and life." He accepted a position with a Raeford law firm to open an office for the firm in Laurinburg. "De' fox had dun gone and landed in de briar patch or de chickin' coop and quail heaven"—just 14 miles from home. He started his law practice February 1, 1967, and retired on February 1, 2016.

During those years in law practice, Bob was active in numerous civic and government leadership positions, including serving more than 37 years as Laurinburg City Attorney and other institutions in the county he loves. On a statewide basis, there were many opportunities to build on his love of wildlife and conservation efforts, and Bob jumped right in. From 1977-1985 he was Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and he served another six years during Hunt's second and third terms as governor as the Commissioner for Wildlife District Four; served for eight years as Chairman of The Natural Heritage Trust Fund; participated in many natural heritage land savings, including Grandfather Mountain and Chimney Rock State Park; was a member of the Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy; and started the first Ducks Unlimited chapter in Scotland County and the same for Quail Unlimited. Later, he became State Chairman of Quail Unlimited, establishing five new chapters in North Carolina.

Bob is married to the former Betty Taylor Cox of Laurinburg. Both Betty (a Salem College graduate) and Bob were married previously; she has three children by her former husband, and Bob has two children by his former wife, Betsy Beall Gordon: Stewart and Ellen Gordon.

Son of the South follows the life of one of North Carolina's most outstanding hunters and fishermen-conservationists. At 82, the stories of his hunting adventures in North Carolina and way beyond take shape in a sort of autobiographical treatise of family heritage and numerous events 'afield.' To quote Bob, "All of the stories in this book are true. Some may be a wee bit exaggerated, but basically true, subject only to memory loss."

Bob shares of the joy of joining his father in riding horses, training dogs, and his first quail hunt, all of which led to 60-plus years of trips to hunting and fishing lakes, ponds, rivers, and salt waters in the Carolinas, Texas, Alaska, Canada and beyond. He tells of his pride in being there when son Stewart, bagged his first quail, and their later adventures in fields and ponds until 2019, when he took his last hunt—with his son.

The joys in the woods and brambles, the sadness at the disappearance of birds, animals and habitats, and the realization that the loss of a lifestyle that helped shape his life would not be available to the children and grandchildren to come after him led to his transformative dedication to preservation of North Carolina's natural resources. According to former NC Governor Jim Hunt, "I think I can say, truthfully, he presided over the most innovative and progressive Wildlife Commission the state has ever known."

Reviews:

"It's my privilege and, indeed an honor, to endorse this great work written by The Honorable J. Robert Gordon who was Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission from July 1977 until February 1985. Under his leadership, the Commission, as a team, worked closely together and accomplished more in eight years than it had in its entire history, dating back to 1947. The programs developed by Bob Gordon and our dear friend, the late Eddie Bridges, have generated more than $200 million, which the Commission has used to preserve and protect North Carolina's natural resources for our children, grandchildren, and future generations to enjoy. Here, we can all create those special memories with friends and family like those you'll read about in this book ... I'd like to thank Bob Gordon and Eddie Bridges for providing all of us with a playground to enjoy and create our own memories into the future."
-BOB TIMBERLAKE, Internationally known North Carolina realist painter

"I knew his (Bob's) deep interest in hunting, fishing, and conservation, so I appointed him to serve as my first Chairman of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, a position he held for my first two terms in office. I think I can say, truthfully, he presided over the most innovative and progressive Wildlife Commission the state has ever known. I certainly recommend Son of the South, not only for its contents, but because we are both sons of the South." 
-FORMER NORTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR JAMES (JIM) B. HUNT

"Bob and I finally met face to face ... at the Doc Henderson Dove Shoot where I attended with my father and mutual friend Graham Bennett, joining many others in a great shoot, great food, and wonderful fellowship. I have kept up with his leadership in Scotland County and his many conservation efforts across our beloved Old North State. Son of the South provides much insight into his true Southern heritage, his hunting adventures with a little taste of poetry." -TERRY SANFORD, JR.

"Bob's story highlights the close connection between hunters and conservation, which is often overlooked in the twenty-first century. Hopefully, this book will inspire new generations and help others appreciate the role hunters have played in shaping the protection of North Carolina's special places." -KATHERINE D. SKINNER, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy

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