Boone and Crockett Club past president Dr. James Henry "Red" Duke of Houston has received the highest award given by the Dallas Safari Club (DSC).
Duke, a physician, media personality and hunter, was presented the Peter Hathaway Capstick Hunting Heritage Award during the recent DSC convention in Dallas. DSC and the Dallas Ecological Foundation present the award to recognize exemplary leadership in conservation, education, hunting, humanitarian causes, research, permanent endowments and charitable giving.
Boone and Crockett Marketing Director Keith Balfourd was in the audience as Duke received the honor, and he was moved by the simple, heartfelt message of the 84-year-old recipient.
"When Dr. Duke was introduced, the entire room came to its feet, but he wouldn't have it. He asked the crowd to 'please sit down, you're embarrassing me,'" said Balfourd. "He then humbly told the audience that his passion was 'caring for people and critters. That's really all I did. It just stuck me as the right thing to do.'"
Duke has been especially devoted to wild sheep conservation. He founded the Texas Bighorn Society, which helped lead successful desert sheep restoration in Texas. He served as president of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (now the Wild Sheep Foundation) in 1986. Duke was president of Boone and Crockett Club in 1986-87. The Sportsman's Club of Texas, Shikar Safari Foundation and now DSC have presented him with their most prestigious awards.
Duke's professional accomplishments are extensive with a distinguished career as a trauma surgeon and professor. He established Houston's Hermann Hospital Life Flight operations in 1976 and he remains the medical director of its trauma and emergency services. Now every major medical center across the country has a Life Flight operation. He is a founding member of the American Trauma Society and is an advanced trauma life-support instructor for the American College of Surgeons. Duke also is an extraordinary communicator, working tirelessly to educate the public on health issues.
"Many people remember Dr. Red Duke from his nationally syndicated 'Texas Health Reports' and the PBS series 'Bodywatch.' He's one of the most recognizable people in medicine, but most don't know that he's also an avid sportsman and dedicated volunteer for wildlife conservation," said Ben Carter, DSC executive director.
As a hunter, Duke collected the difficult North American grand slam of wild sheep. He is especially fond of hunting Dall's sheep with many hunts under his belt so far, and he has three different sheep species in the Boone and Crockett records book.
The Capstick Award is named for the well-known American author whose defense of hunting and conservation made him an outdoor legend. Previous recipients include Theodore Roosevelt (posthumously), the Boone and Crockett Club itself, and Club member Dan Pedrotti.
"I knew Red was well respected within the medical and hunter-conservationist communities. But, awards aside, it was clear in that room on that night that a unique human soul was being recognized. It was like American royalty," Balfourd concluded.