Q&A with Steve Sams
This 2012 Roger Latham award winner slowed down just long enough to answer a few questions
NWTF: How long have you been a member of the NWTF, and how you are involved in its mission?
Steve Sams: I joined in 1981. My membership lapsed for a while, but I think I have been a member about 25 years. I started the chapter in Ruidoso, N.M., in the mid-1980s. I am a charter member and past president of the Yavapai Yelpers Chapter. Currently, I serve the chapter as vice president, banquet co-chair and Turkey Hunters Care coordinator. I have been a member of Arizona State Chapter board of directors since 2007 and currently serve as president.
NWTF: Wow. You've been busy. Why did you join the flock?
SS: I originally joined because I wanted to learn more about how to call and hunt turkeys. A friend gave me a diaphragm call and an instruction tape and I've been hooked ever since. Since then, giving back has been an important part of organizations that I join and volunteer for. Having been a member of many "critter organizations," I firmly believe the NWTF does the best job of embracing the principles and values that are important to me.
NWTF: Tell us about your family.
SS: My parents are responsible for my love of the outdoors and hunting. My fondest memories as a child are of camping, hunting and fishing trips with my parents and three younger brothers. While we didn't know it at the time, our outings were lessons in conservation, ethics and personal responsibility. The lessons took.
I earned a forestry degree and spent the next 38 years working for the U.S. Forest Service where I had opportunities to work directly on projects benefiting turkeys and other species.
My wife, Andrea, and I have been married for 41 years. She is a turkey hunter, NWTF member and secretary/treasurer of the Yavapai Yelpers. We have one son who lives in the Denver area with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, who already has a sizeable collection of firearms that Grandpa is holding until she is ready to start using them.
NWTF: How do you spend your free time?
SS: My wife would laugh at this question. She would tell you I don't have free time. She's right. In addition to my activities with the Yavapai Yelpers and the Arizona State Chapter, I am a chief instructor for Arizona Game and Fish Department's Hunter Education program. I have been teaching hunter education classes for 26 years in New Mexico, Utah, Alaska and Arizona.
I also am involved with the Hunting and Angling Heritage Workgroup, promoting our hunting and fishing heritage by conducting camps and activities to recruit and retain young people in outdoor pursuits. I also have three small businesses. Add turkey, deer, elk and bird hunts, church, visiting family and RVing across this great country and you have a pretty good picture of how I spend my time.
NWTF: What is the best thing about being a member of the NWTF?
SS: If we want healthy wildlife populations and the opportunity to hunt, we must give back as much as we receive. Working as a volunteer for the NWTF gives me the opportunity to make a difference for my granddaughter, her children and generations to come. No other wildlife organization emphasizes kids and families in addition to their conservation goals as much as the NWTF.
NWTF: Why should others get involved?
SS: If you believe in scientific wildlife management, preserving our rights to hunt and fish, bringing youth into the tradition and sport of hunting and implementing conservation projects and outreach programs at the local level, the NWTF is right for you. Attend the NWTF National Convention in Nashville, Tenn., to see us in action.
Turkey conservation, hunting traditions, God, country and family, that's a hard combination to beat. — Gregg Powers