Tommie Dunavant, a longtime supporter of The Duck Hunters Organization, joined the Delta Waterfowl Board as a director at large in February 2023. A Memphis, Tennessee, resident, Dunavant practices psychology and oversees The Dunavant Foundation, a philanthropic enterprise founded with her husband, the late William “Billy” Dunavant Jr. (see “Conservation Leader Inspired Others to Appreciate Ducks,” Winter 2021, Page 86).
Through early adulthood, Dunavant says she most enjoyed “indoor activities,” such as ballets, operas, and symphonies, but in her early 30s she “found the healing power of nature” while coping with a family tragedy. Soon, too, she met Billy Dunavant, whose passion was for all-things outdoors.
“I used to tell my Billy that I married him because he was a ‘seasonal man,’” Dunavant said. “Every season brought a new activity, whether it was flyfishing, shooting clays, or hunting ducks.”
The Dunavants shared more than three decades of such seasons together, with Tommie Dunavant gaining an obsession with the beauty and hunting of teal, wood ducks, mallards and, most especially, black ducks.
“We don’t see many black ducks in this flyway, of course,” she said. “But I’ve managed to bag three, which Billy had mounted for me. I just love being in a duck blind listening to wings whistling overhead before daylight. It’s pure magic.”
Dunavant has given back to the resource since practically her first hunt. She and Billy have funded habitat work as far south as Mississippi and north as the prairie pothole region; they’ve donated generously to Delta’s Duck Production programs; and, most recently, The Dunavant Foundation gifted $2 million to Delta’s Million Duck Campaign—an initiative to add 1 million ducks to every fall flight, every year.
“All duck hunters are indebted to Tommie Dunavant’s incredible passion for waterfowl conservation,” said Jeffrey Howell, vice president of development for Delta Waterfowl. “She’s also an incredibly dynamic and inspiring public speaker who’s rallied countless others, including women, to support ducks and duck hunting.”
A University of Memphis ambassador, Dunavant serves on the boards of Christian Brothers University, Rhodes College, and the National Coalition of Pastors’ Spouses.
She and Billy were introduced to The Duck Hunters Organization by their friends John Dobbs, a longtime member of the Delta Board, and Paul Tudor Jones III, a noted financial manager and waterfowl conservation leader.
“Billy and I shared a love for waterfowl conservation that essentially became a way of life—a life of action,” Dunavant said. “I look forward to continuing our legacy on Delta’s Board, and it’s a high honor to have been nominated.”