The least well known of Johnson Jones Hooper’s works, Dog and Gun was first published as a newspaper series, then appeared in six book editions between 1856 and 1871. Hooper is Alabama’s most celebrated antebellum author, and here he gives insight into the meaning of a culture where every male hunts – and a man who shoots as a gentleman will be assumed a gentleman. Beidler’s introduction to this reprint edition explores the social, literary, and technical dimensions of Dog and Gun, which he sees as an important commentary on class distinctions in the antebellum South, as well as a straightforward treatise on hunting.
Although the book is a manual for the hunter, with characteristic humor and a certain disdain, Hooper gives a full picture of the gentlemanly sport of hunting – clearly distinct from hunting for food – in all aspects including hunter, weaponry, and sporting dogs. He takes us back to an autumnal ritual of the hunt, where one is always a boy with his first gun – to the natural mystery of quest, competition, predation, pursuit, survival, bravery, endurance, and eventual defeat, called the mystery of the hunt.