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The year 1965 holds a special place in my heart. If you were keen during history lessons, you know that’s the year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led 3,200 people on the third and most successful civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.
“What does that have to do with Jim?” You ask!
My mom was a die-hard fan of Dr. King for the mere fact that he endlessly fought for civil rights. Of all the accomplishments of Dr. King, my mom’s most favorite was the ‘I have a dream’ speech. Quite a lot of things are mentioned in this world-renown speech. But the most important lesson she got was the need to dream positive for a better future.
So I was born a few months after the famous Selma-Montgomery marches. Scientifically, the experiences of a mother while pregnant may have a significant bearing on the child’s life. So, what do you expect of Jim Taylor whose mother was an avid ‘dreamer’ when carrying him in the womb? A miniature dreamer indeed!
That’s what I’ve been all my life.
I was born in the county of Jackson towards the south of the US state of Michigan. From an early age, I began getting sensitized on the injustices that common people were unleashing on the environment.
If you didn’t know, Michigan has about 65,000 inland lakes and ponds. The king of all these is the Great Lakes, which comprises Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Pollution wasn’t rife then as it grew to be at the turn of the 21st Century. But the little pollution I witnessed made me weep for mother nature, as Dr. King weeped for the African-Americans. Talk of passion!
I had a dream! That one day, I would be in a position to actively protect my beautiful motherland’s environment and its ecosystems.
My subconscious work towards the dream officially kicked off in the year 1970 when I was enrolled in Kindergarten at Bennett School. I admit that the first 8 grades didn’t particularly expose me to environmental conservation.
When I began my secondary education at Grass Lake High School, I knew I had to make it count or my dreams would soon be null and void. I immediately joined the geography club, which was the most viable avenue for environmental conservation activities.
I was right! We would conduct regular studies on the cleanliness status of the surrounding lakes, namely Grass Lake, Tims Lake, Welch Lake, Goose Lake, Brill Lake, Gilletts Lake, Center Lake, and Wolf Lake. We would also join community clean-up programs time after time.
Towards the end of my 2nd year, I was elected the chairman of the Geography club. I managed to organize a total of 6 clean-up exercises during my 2-year reign. That was one of the greatest achievements in my teenage life.
To add on that, the Sharon State Wildlife Management Area is only 30 minutes away from Grass Lake High School. Due to my position as the chair of the Geography club, I got to interact a lot with relevant outsiders.
Perhaps the most important was the chief warden at Sharon State. He invited us for a tour of the 600 acre restricted access hunting area. And guess what! It was rabbit season. Scores of hunters were already on the ground with their camouflage hunting gear and air rifles. You can imagine how this captivated my young soul.
From that trip, my second passion was defined. And that was to hunt responsibly all the days of my life.
Choosing a college and a course wasn’t any difficulty for me. I was sure of what I wanted to do the rest of my life. After successfully completing my high school studies, I enrolled in Grand Valley State University for Environmental and Sustainability studies. The years flew by swiftly through the power of loving what I was doing.
And 8 months after graduation, I got employed by the United States Marine Corps as a conservation law enforcement specialist. I honestly felt like a master of the universe with everything seemingly coming my way so effortlessly.
The job placement gave me first hand experience on real-world conservation. Among other things, my duties included:
- Patrolling army bases to ensure all cultural and environmental resources are adequately protected
- Patrolling all roadways and areas downrange to ensure there is no violation of laws and breach of security
- Citing any offenders into magistrate courts
- Ensuring that ongoing military training does not interfere with recreational activities downrange and vice versa
- Monitoring and surveying the state of neighbouring archaeological sites and reporting any disturbances
- Conducting compliance inspection of hunters to ensure their activities are authorized and that they stick to the required season dates and bag limits
- Assisting in search and rescue efforts for unaccounted for recreationists
What an experience. It’s now 26 years and counting. Maybe I should herein mention that I also work with the US Coast Guard.
I like the fact that my conservation and hunting dreams were realized in one job. Talk of killing two birds with one stone!
I’m happily married to Sue Johnson, with whom we have two kids, James, and Liam. Family is everything to me. They daily give me a reason to wake up strong and face the world as a man. They are the ones I turn to in both my high and low moments. I cherish them to the moon and back.
Aside from work and and my nuclear family, I actively participate in the following conservation groups:
- West Michigan Land Conservancy
- Michigan United Conservation Clubs
- Michigan Conservative Coalition
- The Nature Conservancy
- Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve
These form my extended family. It never feels like a burden to me. I love my work.
I also make sure to spare some good time for hunting whenever the season comes. I mostly stick around Michigan. I’m shy of making long trips to other states as I never want to stay too far from my family. For some natural reasons, my wife is not a hunter.
Perhaps that’s a true illustration of unlike poles attracting. She’s content with her financial management career as I am with mine.
I’m however glad that one of my sons is walking in my footsteps. Liam is an up-and-coming youth hunter. I’m sure he’s ready to pick up the mantle when old age catches up with me.
Why I hunt with air guns (not crossbow, real rifle)?
I would run out of space listing the areas in Michigan where hunting with firearms is prohibited. I used to feel so limited with my Remington Model 700 rifle. But over the years, Michigan laws have significantly changed in favor of hunting with airguns. The same is also true with several other US states. And that’s why I chose air rifles as my best hunting weapon.
Additionally, it came to a point that hunting with firearms felt so easy for me. I could take out deer at fairly long ranges. I felt my hunting skills had plateaued. For more adventure, I saw airguns as the best hunting weapon to use.
For crossbows, I realized how expensive it is to get a good quality one that could meet my hunting needs. Air rifles are relatively cheaper than crossbows.
So far, here’s my collection of airguns:
- PCP air rifles
- AimSport Gen 2 DAR .22
- Benjamin Cayden .22
- Benjamin Marauder .22
- Benjamin Marauder, Semi-Auto .22
- FX Crown Continuum .22/.25
- FX Dreamline Classic .25/.22
- FX Dream-Tac Compact .177/.22
- FX Royale 400 .22
- Huben K1 .22
- PCP pistols
- Ataman AP16 .22
- Benjamin Marauder Pistol .22
- Hatsan AT-P1 .177
You know me in great depth. Don’t hesitate to get in touch whenever you feel like. Even a simple ‘hi’ will do!