Jim has been a turkey hunter since 1968 and dedicates much of his time to helping youth get involved in the outdoors through the NWTF's JAKES program.
Home Chapter: Shelley Nickell Chapter
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Home Town: Eddyville, Ky.
Family: Daughter, Lisa; grandson, Kyle; granddaughter, Kaci; son-in-law, Kelly, and wife of 44 years, Pat. "She's my best friend and hunting partner, and I couldn't make it without her," Jim says.
Notable Fact: Jim has been an NWTF member since its founding in 1973. He has been a life member since 1978.
NWTF: Jim, what's changed about the NWTF since 1973 and what's stayed the same?
Jim Williams: Technology and how we stay in touch with each other has changed a lot, obviously. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. Our JAKES program has also advanced quite a bit. If it wasn't for the kids, I wouldn't be here. Our volunteers' dedication has stayed as strong as ever.
NWTF: We hear you helped start the tradition of giving out JAKES medallions at outreach events. How did you decide to start doing that?
JW: I looked at the concept of Olympic gold medals and decided I wanted to do that to recognize the kids who participated in our events. I wanted to make the kids feel like they'd go home with something worthwhile that they could be proud of. They love it!
NWTF: Based on your years of experience, what do new volunteers need to know about hosting a great banquet?
JW:First, you've got to be a people person and willing to bend a little bit. You can't please everybody, so I recommend that people pick their battles, give and take, and understand and listen to the grassroots people. Everybody's ideas deserve consideration throughout the process.
NWTF: You also help organize a Wounded Warrior hunt for soldiers based out of Fort Campbell who are returning from Iraq. That's got to be pretty emotional, wouldn't you say?
JW: It is. We're having a meet-and-greet coming up this month, and it's one of the greatest things we've ever done.
NWTF: What would you say to people who are missing out by NOT being an NWTF member?
JW:They're missing out on getting a great magazine, the camaraderie and fellowship with other members, and knowing that we're fighting for conservation and protecting their hunting heritage. In my opinion, we're the best organization going as far as helping kids, wildlife and conservation. We're one big family.
NWTF: How'd your turkey season go last year, Jim?
JW: It went well. I've been fortunate enough to tag out the past several years in a row, but what I really get a kick out of is bringing kids along for the first time and mentoring them.
NWTF: What are Kentuckians' expectations for this spring's turkey season?
JW:We had a good hatch last year, and next year should be even better. People are definitely excited!
NWTF: What's your favorite turkey hunting memory of all-time?
JW: Wow, that's a tough one. I've been turkey hunting since 1968, and I'd have to say that my favorite memory involves helping to form the Shelley Nickell chapter. We had worked so hard for that.
Winning the Rare Breed Award with my wife, and winning the Roger Latham award are up there, too. The most touching thing is when you have a banquet and the kids present you with a gift. That's really special.
NWTF: Jim, you've been turkey hunting since 1968, so you've obviously learned a few tricks of the trade here and there. Would you say you've got a pretty good mastery of turkey hunting, or do the birds still fool you now and then?
JW: (laughs) No way! You never get as smart as the old gobblers. I just enjoy the experience. Patience is key!
NWTF: For people who don't understand what turkey hunting is all about, how do you explain what compels a person to get up well before dawn, often in bad weather, to hunt these fickle birds?
JW: It boils down to a love of the outdoors. That's the simplest way I can explain it.
We know that everything is put here for a reason. The reason we have the outdoors here is so that we can be good stewards of it. That's why God put us here.
NWTF: Thanks for talking with us Jim, and good luck this season.
JW: Thanks for the opportunity.