Dr. James Henry “Red” Duke, 1928-2015

Physician, media personality, hunter and ardent conservationist, Dr. James Henry “Red” Duke of Houston passed away Aug. 25, 2015. Born in Ennis, Texas, Duke was the 2015 Capstick Award recipient.

Most of the world knew Dr. Duke for his media celebrity – his PBS show “Bodywatch,” series of health reports on syndicated news, and other appearances as a proponent of emergency and trauma care. His particular style had people calling him “John Wayne in scrubs” and “world-class surgeon in a Texan’s body.” Duke was one of the surgeons treating Texas Gov. John Connelly in November 1963, wounded in the assassination of Pres. Kennedy.

But to hunters and outdoorsmen and –women, he was one of us − an avid sportsman and dedicated volunteer for wildlife conservation. He was a founder, past president and honorary lifetime director of the Texas Bighorn Society, which spearheaded successful desert sheep initiatives in West Texas. He has served in leadership roles for the Wild Sheep Foundation and Boone and Crockett Club. The Sportsman’s Club of Texas, Shikar Safari Foundation and DSC all presented him with their most prestigious awards.

Last January in Dallas, Dr. Duke received the Peter Hathaway Capstick Hunting Heritage Award during the DSC convention and sporting expo, Traditions. This award recognizes exemplary leadership in conservation, education, hunting, humanitarian causes, research, permanent endowments and charitable giving.

Duke said, “Man is here and he has needs, but so do the wildlife. I really enjoy participating in activities to enhance the opportunity of wildlife to live in the best cohabitation with man.”

As a hunter, Duke accomplished the coveted North American grand slam of wild sheep. He was especially fond of hunting Dall sheep, with more than 20 hunts under his belt, and has three different sheep species in the Boone and Crockett records book.

Dr. Duke accepted the Capstick Award with a heartfelt speech. His love of the outdoors was evident that night, and his gratitude brought tears to many eyes that evening. He was a beloved part of the hunting heritage, as well as American culture, and he will be greatly missed.

DSC extends its condolences to the family, friends and community who will all grieve this legendary man.