(Editor’s Note: The Debutante Hunters won the Shorts Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival after this post was written.)


Sometimes it seems to me that conservation in the American West is like a Rocky Mountain river, wild with snowmelt, tumultuous and dramatic, with some new, obvious, challenge every second. But Southern hunting and fishing, and the conservationist ethic they spawn, seem more like a southern river, broad and slow and deep, shadowed with history and tradition.

In this new Sundance short film, The Debutante Hunters, director Maria White of Summerville, South Carolina, interviews and films her own circle of friends, young women and their families who are steeped in the southern traditions of hunting, shooting and the general wonders of a life spent outside. What these women hunters have to say is extremely important. What we see here is the kind of connection to wildlife, the land, family, and tradition that has made American hunters the world’s foremost conservationists. These are the kinds of hunters who will make sure that it can go on.

The Debutante Hunters is a movie made by a non-hunter who was open-minded enough to recognize a fascinating story when she saw it, and skilled enough as an artist to make an outstanding documentary. In the end, the fresh eye she brings to her subject reveals the heart of hunting in a way that the multitude of hunting shows and videos miss entirely. You can learn more about the film here and on Facebook.