Robert Ruark Society

The society is made up of a group of fans from all across Ruark's native North Carolina, the nation and from around the world. We remember Ruark and we want others to remember him, too.


2017 will be the 12th year the Ruark Society of Chapel Hill has given $1000 award in the spring to a UNC undergraduate who writes the best essay based on a non fiction account of the natural outdoor life in North Carolina.

One of Ruark's best books (and still a big seller) is "The Old Man and The Boy". This is about Ruark as a boy in Wilmington spending his summers in Southport (a harbor on the entrance of the Cape Fear River) with his Grandfather, a Retired River Pilot. He learned a lot about Quail and Deer hunting and fishing.

The award is financed through contributions to The Ruark Society and through the UNC Arts and Sciences Foundation (tax deductible). 

The award is handled through the Creative Writing section of the UNC English Department. Below is a past description from the department about the contest. Please email the Creative Writing Program Assistant, Anita Braxton, at with any questions regarding the contest.

"The Robert Ruark Society of Chapel Hill is offering a $1,000 award - named for novelist-journalist Robert Ruark (UNC Chapel Hill, Journalism, Class of 1935) - for the best non-fiction work on the natuarl life and history of North Carolina by a UNC Chapel Hill undergraduate.

Included would be topics related to wildlife (flora and/or fauna) and life in the field (camping, hiking, boating, fishing, hunting, and so on). Travel narrative, personal essay, historical exploration - all are welcome. 

  • Deadline: end of March (To be updated)
  • One entry per student.
  • Length: up to 5,000 words
  • One copy double-spaced typescript (12 pt.)

Submit all manuscripts, complete with contact information to Greenlaw 229, Anita Braxton."

Winning Essay for the 2016 Contest

Heather Wilson and Stephen Gay were the winners of the eleventh annual essay contest!

Click here to read Heather's submission, TWO BOYS ON THE WATER.

Click here to read Stephen's submission, SNAIL PORTRAITS.

Winning Essay for the 2015 Contest

Stephen Gay was the winner of the tenth annual essay contest.

Click here to read his submission, A LEAKY CANOE AND A DYING RIVER.

Robert Ruark Society Award Winner 2015.jpg

 Jim Cheatham presenting the 2015 Award to Stephen Gay, Junior at UNC Chapel Hill from Greenville, South Carolina