Cock Fighting in East Tennessee

Wallace News in Kingsport offers a wide range of magazines, some of which will never be displayed on a Southern Living coffee table. While some particularly lavicious magazine covers were partially covered, the only publication to be entirely concealed was Grit and Steel, a magazine for cockfighters. It comes in a manila envelope ready for mailing.

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I’ve never been to a cockfight, in Tennessee or anywhere, and I believe it is cruel to the roosters who have needles or blade strapped to their legs and are pitted against each other. The publication, which costs $8, was mostly page after page of ads from various breeders. “Young brood trios,” which consists of a cock and two hens, were offered for anywhere from $300 to $1,000. Many of the ads had some version of this disclaimer: “None sold for any illegal purposes.”

Yeah, right.

The appropriately named Cocke County, Tennessee is the center of cockfighting on the eastern end of the state. I was driving down I-81 around mile markers 39 and 40 when I took this photo of a farm on the west side of the road.

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This fellow has hundreds of roosters in his fields, all protected with what looks like an electic fence and cameras. I have often pondered whether passing motorists who know nothing about cockfighting ever wonder why all those chickens get such special treatment.

31 Responses to Cock Fighting in East Tennessee

  1. joshua says:

    If you have never seen a cockfight then how can you say it is cruel.
    I think it is pretty stupid when the aspca takes so called “fighting chickens” (which are realy gamefowl) and kill them all because they might have been fought before. All you people who think that we make the roosters fight are pretty foolish to think if you take a rooster that has never even seen another rooster or even a hen and put him with a rooster that he won’t fight till death. The reason they fight is to keep or protect their herim (or women and chicks) just like in real life, they do so naturally even if they have’nt even seen a hen until they were even 4 or 5 years old.

    • DAVID GREEN says:

      VERY WELL SAID JOSHUA I AGREE 100%!!!!!!

      • curtmcdavid says:

        I feel ya bro when the aspca come to get my chickens they better bring they a game cause im game as my roosters & im gonna fight to the death & i aint talking about going to the dragpit either,as long as we the people make a stand band together & let them know were not going away no matter what & fight for our game like we want them to fight for us they start getting the picture i was in prison the last ten years & my buddy let me read some old gamecock books i was reading about the kiowa indians letting us by licence to open a pit in oklahoma what happend to tht situation can some one enlightining me on tht deal till next time keep em crowing my e mail is curtmcdavid@gmail.com if some one wants to talk chickens

  2. tennesseeguy says:

    I’ve never seen a gladiator match either, but I know that those were cruel.

    Roosters will fight. That is part of their nature. It is most unnatural–and cruel–to strap sharp pieces of steel to the legs of these birds so they can kill each other for the amusement of people.

    • Ron Shepherd says:

      have you ever seen their natural spurs.they are much worse than gaffs. and if they fight with there natural spurs it’s much worse and neither rooster will recover very well that’s all I’ll say for now but would love to talk to you in person ,or by phone ,you don’t have a clue so at least learn a little about the subject you want to write about.

  3. CHF says:

    Its cruel the way commercial chickens are slaughtered by the 10′s of millions a year. Crowded into small cages. Never having the luxury of being outside with nature. Being force fed commercial feed that is full of hormones and dangerous chemicals. Gamefowl at least get the dignity of dying doing what comes natural to them after being lovingly hand raised for two years. The steel spurs/gaffs/knives actually stop the fight much quicker than letting the birds fight natural heel (don’t forget these gamefowl already have wicked natural spurs on their own). These gamefowl will fight to the death when they encounter one another in the wild. They aren’t trained to fight, they are conditioned. They will receive the best foods and individual care, then they will be finely conditioned like a prize boxer or professional athlete. I’m not saying its right to fight gamefowl but I can say that if I were a rooster I would rather perish on a battlefield than die on a chopping block.

  4. Rooster lover says:

    Hello , this is what I think – The respect towards others it’s peace. People have always fought roosters from ancient times since I remember rooster fights have been practiced, and the people that fights them really love them, and this practice has not made people more cruel, what has made people cruel its the intervention of different people to different issues thats brings wars, look at the world today. People from humane society did not even know animals they think the’re helping them, but they’re actually exterminating these breeds.

  5. Ryan says:

    Just like dog fighting, beetle fighting or any other fighting that is natural in nature, cock fighting is only what would happen anyway. It is just in a controled environment. So what if we place bets on a winner. It is just as bad or worse to pump steriods and pain killers into NBA, NFL, NHL players just so they can finish a game for our enjoyment. Wake up you extreamists and focus some of that usless energy on more important things than a fu$%*ng chicken!

  6. Dylan says:

    Exactly, why the hell would someone worry about cockfighting when there’s murderers and rapists on the loose and drug dealers and all that, just stay out of their business

  7. chris says:

    well, this coming from a cockfighter its not cruel. my roosters are taken care of better than most of you idiots take care of your children.Dogfighting is wrong. I have a pit bull that will not not fight because i care for him and am nice to him. My roosters on the other hand will fight and i do nomore to them to make them fight than i do my dog. In other words they are gunna fight. There isnt anything any animal rights folks can do we will always fight them and when they put me in jail theres always gunna be somebody out there doing it so to all you animal rights people, go spend some time with your kids before they get on drugs, im sure they havent seen much of you latley considering you spend all your time worrying about me and my roosters

  8. Sarah says:

    Ever wondered, considering how many farms there are with thousands of roosters and hens and biddies to feed… per farm, looking at hundreds of thousands if not millions of chickens that have to eat a year. Then take a small rural community and its feed and drug stores. Do a bit of math and see if you can get the faintest idea how important those chickens are to those buisnesses and the economy.

    In third world countries the rooster buisness keeps people in jobs, makes money for the farmers which means good food, clean water, medicine and education.

    I read somewhere it was over $9,000 000 or could have been billion a year into phillipines economy.

    There are jobs for people working on the farms, people running the pits, people cleaning the pit after the derby, people in factories making the feeds, the equipment, the medicines, the weapons, in the transporting buisness. Anything to do with roosters is giving someone a job and putting food on their table.

    So anyone who still thinks all these cockfighters and roosters should be wiped out without a thought for the HUMANS it will effect needs to look at their priorities a bit more. If you think roosters are better than people then I think you need to find a new planet.

  9. hunter johnson says:

    its not bad i do not believe in fighting a chicken with knives but bare fights should be allowed i mean its natural we eat chickens all the time and wen a game chicken gets hurt they get cared for so its no that bad

  10. tito says:

    what kind of rooster is this i wanna know the name, becaus i have one that is the same breed looks ,the same, but iv been trying to find what kind of breed is it?

  11. brian says:

    i’ve been around game chickens all my life I live in gaffney (grit&still great mag.)where great cocks are raised. Its a nautural thing that one fights for beeing number one to keep it position as the best look at our world everything is in a battle for the best so what is wrong with a litle chicken fight???

  12. roosterman70 says:

    I tell you whats cruel, Killing roosters because people think they might fight.How would they like it if people killed thier dogs or cats;they fight too!!Game cocks fight to defend thier hens,chicks and territory.If someone caged you up or tied you up you would fight for your freedom also and would you not take up for your wife or kids? If someone you didnt know came to your home and you thought they were a threat to them? Game cocks are one of the most beautiful animals in the world today.And it would’nt do me to see someone kill one of mine.

  13. roosterman70 says:

    If the Government was making a percentage or a tax off fighting roosters it would be legal,think about it.

  14. rooster fighther says:

    that shit is bad rooster are warriors thath would die on the line

  15. Steven says:

    I have been a Gamecock fancier for over 12yrs; my interest is in the breed as opposed to the “deed;” I throughly enjoy a backyard scuffle between a couple birds; but I never allow my birds never kill one another; once they are worn out; they return to their harems, crow about what magnificent, victorious Rooster’s they are; & work at loving up to their ladies…..

    I lived in Missouri when they passed the law that made Cockfighting illegal; many bird raiser’s killed off hundreds of birds; because raising/fighting was no longer profitible; what was more cruel? A few birds dying in the pits; or the total killing of thousands (possibly even hundreds of thousands; if you take in national numbers) of chicken flocks?

    PETA/ASPCA/Humane Society/ect. only care about their political agenda’s; not the animals they are supposedly protecting. PETA kills more animals that all the shelters combined….

  16. eddie says:

    Its a natural thing.The birds are good at it. If you dont think it is the thing to do then you should not go. The rest of us dont need you there. we were fighting before you even knew what it was. Our forefathers did it. there were even fighting chickens in the white house.These birds have a better life than any chicken raised for us to eat. After winning several fights they have a new job breeding. Lucky birds. we should have it so good.

  17. Bob says:

    For all of the inbred rednecks who think there’s nothing wrong with cock-fighting because “it’s natural”, well, people have been killing each other for a lot longer than they have been fighting chickens. Put two people together with a limited supply of food and they will fight over it. Does that make it natural? Do I then get to take your family members and fight them against each other? The people who get a rush from strapping knives to roosters and watching them bloody each other are sick in the head and it’s going to be stopped. We’re going to catch you, put you in jail, confiscate your property and take your kids away from you so that they don’t grow up like you. Show me cock fighting and I’ll show you drug use, smuggling and a bunch of other crimes. You’re the scum of the earth and Tennessee doesn’t want you

    • Taquincy says:

      Dumb A$$ it is natural for people to fight over food if they are hungry and the food is limited, it is very natural to want to survive.

    • Steven says:

      It’s not just your “imagined” Inbred rednecks who are chicken-fighters. It encompasses people from every walk of life. Many Many Presidents & High-Ranking Politician’s were fans of it. FYI- on the “inbred” part; if you’ve ever researched “genealogy” then you’d know that “in-breeding;” is alot more common in the “upper-crust” of society; especially among first cousins & siblings; among cousin’s it was encouraged; the well-to-do didn’t want to pollute their imagined superiority by mixing with the commoner’s; meanwhile they polluted theirselves by marrying & creating generation after generation of idiot children. Judging from your own arrogant & ignorant rant; I think you personally are in denial of such facts in your own “breeding.”

      That point made; seeing as people have been fighting & killing each other since back in “Adam’s Day” it could/would be safe to say that people killing each other is a very natural thing. Nature has long used survival instinct to cull the herd of cull out the unfit, & remove the weakest links; this covers everything; humans & animals. Though I must adidt that intelligence has allowed the weakest creature; Man; to ascend to the top of the survival ladder. But the gene pool has become stagnant, & your ignorant rant is definite proof of the fact.

      I’m not a chicken fighter; my interest in the birds is purely my preference in birds; Game Chickens are the Aristocriscy of the Chicken world & I love the spirit & survival instinct they have as a breed.

    • Doc C. says:

      ” We’re going to catch you, put you in jail, confiscate your property and TAKE YOUR KIDS AWAY FROM YOU SO THEY DONT GROW UP LIKE YOU.” Thats what you said BOB. What kind of person wishes a man’s children away from him over a chicken??? And we, are sick in the head???

    • you know what ive been around roosters all my life are you saying us cock fighters throw our roosters down then give them feed to make them fight no so get over it the gaff and knife just puts them out of there misery so SHUT UP KNOW IT ALL!

  18. JACK MAWATAN says:

    CAN YOU SEND ME A COCK,IM A FIRS TIMER AVID FUN OF COCK FIGHTING.EVEN IF IT IS A REJECT CHICKEN CAN I HAVE ONE.JUST A SOUVENIRS OF YOURS..THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS

  19. curtmcdavid says:

    Well everybody has a opion but listen people george wash,thomasjefferson raised gamecock on whitehouse property ole,honestabe ncknme for calling fair cockfights and people like my self love&raise gamefowl just want people to knw that it’s a family sport my 2year old daughter loves feed time if u dont like it u dont need to b in somones buisssnes tht does to all the gamecock haters can kiss my ass

  20. curtmcdavid says:

    if only people knew how much care went in to these roosters and hens not counting the money for the best feed,meds,and all the other miscelanious stuff for the proper care of these faboulos animals they would not b so quick to judge what someone else does for a hobby and some a living georgewashington fought these brave animal in the whitehouse,thomasjefferson dont forget ole honest abe lincoln these birds do what is natural to them& the way i see it if im out in the holler not bothering u then why are u bothering me if i want to pit two good breed roosters together just to see if my love&care makes my rooster superior then it should b my buissness not yours or anyone elses there is only one judge &if he gonna send me to hell for my enjoyment off cockfighting then u better get on your knees & pray real hard for your sins one being judgeful of other people this is just my opinion i still beleive in the constatution and the right to b what i want to b so all u judgers and fake ass bible thumpers go b active against gay marriage and everything else your so called prez is turning u into communist ยก! what ever happened to minding your own damn buissnes and staying out mine pay attention to tv people going back to old ways and im for one thts glad of it im a chicken man my two year old daughter is a chicken girl &my newborn son is certanlly going to b a chicken man so with tht said if u dont like it my middle finoger extends to u gonna do this as long as i can &im passing it on to the generation after me &my kids can pass it on to there genration& so on& so on u knw how it goes roosters&moonshine is still gonna b hear after were gone but thats just were i stand in this world

  21. Jennie Sutton says:

    Jennie Sutton
    My father’s name is Almer Sutton, he wrote for several gamecock magazines on feeding, breeding and conditioning cocks for fight. I am sick and tired of hearing how cruel gamecock fighting can be to an fowl that will fight naturally. Training to fight is what boxers and other related sports fields endure. Let me see: it is okay for human beings to fight to death in rings with millions/billion of people watching, betting on the the fighters not to mention the prostitution/night companion. Maybe gamecock fighters should start protesting boxing or kick boxing since it doesn’t come natural to human beings.

  22. Could you please send information to recieve a subscription to grit and steel or game cock magazine have to start all over again have lost all cocks and hens need tie cords have built new brute houses

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