Hunter Deerman and Lelland Ducksworth are not professional models, but that did not stop them from ditching their shirts and striking a pose with cute puppies to raise money for a great cause. The two are featured in the Hub City Humane Society’s 2017 “Hunks for Hounds” calendar, with all proceeds from its sales going to helping animals in need of a home.
Neither Deerman nor Ducksworth sought out the modeling gig. Deerman’s roommate signed him up after lifting a few pictures off of Deerman’s Instagram account. Likewise, Ducksworth was signed up by his supervisor’s wife. Both have always had a passion for animals, so when they found out they’d been chosen for the “Hunks for Hounds” calendar, they couldn’t turn it down.
Deerman, 31, is working on his master’s degree in biological sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi. Deerman grew up in the Mississippi Delta and has always loved biology and animals. He is currently researching mosquitos, but Deerman’s love for dogs goes back to his childhood.
“I’ve never gone a day in my life without having a dog,” Deerman said. “Right now, I have a Chihuahua. He’s got as ‘bout as much attitude as I have.”
Ducksworth, 22, recently graduated from Southern Miss in 2016 with a degree in biological sciences. He grew up around animals in Hattiesburg and first fell in love with caring for them while visiting his grandfather’s farm in Arkansas as a child.
Ducksworth currently owns six Rottweiler’s, a Great Dane, a Pomeranian and two pythons. Those are just his personal pets. He works as a zookeeper with the Hattiesburg Zoo, but he has accepted a position with the Blank Park Zoo in Iowa and will soon move there. It is a challenging job at times, but his love for animals more than makes up for it.
“Eighty percent of the time, we’re fecal relocation technicians,” Ducksworth said. “In other words, we remove poop. The rest of the time you actually get to socialize and care for the animals. It’s an amazing experience. That’s what I love to do.”
Ducksworth’s favorite way of interacting with the animals is singing to them.
“I like to sing to my animals,” Ducksworth said. “I like singing all music to them, but mostly R&B, gospel and country. I keep it wild.”
When Ducksworth first found out that he had been chosen for the calendar, he was not sure what his supervisor’s wife had gotten him into. He is a competitive body builder on the side, but he was not too sure about posing as a “hunk.”
“I thought it was going to be a photoshoot for the guys, but the dog obviously had more stuff than the guys,” Ducksworth said. “It was more of a photoshoot for the dogs. It was unique, and it was for an amazing cause.”
Deerman’s only prior modeling experience was posing for some of his photographer friends, but he was also eager to help animals in need.
“I couldn’t turn it down,” Deerman said. “It’s for charity, which is the main reason I did it. I love animals, so why not?”
The Hub City Humane Society cares for homeless, abused and neglected animals in the Hattiesburg area.
“A lot of people do not understand that sheltered dogs are still dogs,” Ducksworth said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re pure bred or not. They need a home too, and a lot of them are being put down every day.”
The “Hunks for Hounds” calendars can be purchased for $15 from the shelter or from www.hchshunksforhounds. com. All money raised from the calendars will go toward helping the Hub City Humane Society find homes for neglected animals in the Hattiesburg area.