I want to share a few personal memories of Lovett Williams, with whom I worked regularly since 1995. As most of you know, Lovett died recently, and his passing has left a huge void in the world of the wild turkey.
I actually “met” Lovett before I started at Turkey & Turkey Hunting, courtesy of his Real Turkeys audio cassettes. As an aspiring caller, I needed to mimic real turkey sounds, and Lovett’s recordings were the best examples in the industry. I recall trying to replicate his recordings of a flydown cackle and can hear his matter-of-fact voice — “Purring is a sound of contentment” — narrating the tapes.
The most obvious connection I share with Lovett is, of course, our names. I can’t tell you how many folks through the years have confused me for him, asking me biological questions or seeking advice on Florida hunting. Many even think he’s my father, and have asked me time and again how “my dad is doing in Florida.” I can only chuckle. I gave up long ago pointing out that Lovett is my family name but Lovett’s given name.
We had to recognize the coincidence in late 1995, however, after I first put my name on an issue of T&TH. In an odd twist, the photographer who scored the cover shot for that issue was Scotty Lovett of Georgia (again, no relation). When I pointed that out to Lovett, he chuckled and said, “The Lovetts are taken’ over.”
Through the ensuing years, I read hundreds of Lovett’s columns, features and emails. I might have taken the most enjoyment from the latter, as I’d regularly send biological questions — personal or sent from readers — to Lovett for his take. The answers were always quick, direct and insightful — sometimes even blunt. Once, an online forum member posted some quasi-biological blather that struck a raw nerve with me, and I forwarded the man’s post to Lovett so he could (hopefully) confirm my opinion. His response was classic: “He either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or is full of (expletive).”
Lovett and I butted heads a few times during the years, mostly when he was miffed at my copy editing. Typically, we’d explain our positions in emails and then shake virtual hands, agreeing to disagree on minor style or grammatical points. I always appreciated that he took pride in his work and read it after publication.
I only spoke to Lovett in person two or three times, at National Wild Turkey Federation conventions. I’d stop by his booth, we’d chat for a bit and then I’d be on my way. I meant to visit him once in Florida, while on my first Osceola hunt, but that never materialized. I regret not being able to spend time with the sixth-generation Floridian in his home territory.
A couple of years ago, Lovett began turning in features and columns at an unprecedented pace. I eagerly accepted them all, of course, but finally told Lovett I could only pay him for a year’s worth of material at a time. Only then did he reveal his predicament.
I assume he didn’t advertise it because he’s a strong, proud man who had no interest in sympathy. I appreciate that. But I still had to tell him that, as always, he had my respect, admiration and friendship.
We should all share in that. Without Lovett’s tireless work, we’d know quite a bit less about turkeys, and America’s turkey hunting culture would be poorer indeed.