From the Oceans to the Rivers

| September 11, 2005

A summer vacation on Maui took Bill Wilson back to scuba diving, a passion for him in his younger days.

A close family is the joy of Bill Wilson’s life. But once a year, that closeness is extra special.

Every November, on the opening day for modern guns in the Arkansas whitetail deer season, Bill and his four boys, their vacations timed so they all get together, head back into the woods along the Strawberry River and back in time. It’s become a family tradition.

It’s a chance to hunt together, but it’s also a chance to tell old stories over and over, relive past hunts, dredge up boyhood adventures and take the time to enjoy each other. And a chance for the boys, Tol, 41; Bo, 36; Kirby, 28; and Sammy, 26, three of whom still live in northeast Arkansas and the other in Kentucky, to compete for their father’s time just like they did when they were little, says Wilson, 65.

“Those boys were always competitive, and they still are, and it’s as much fun today to watch as they try to do better than the next one on our hunts as it was when they were kids,” he says. “Nowadays I’ve got three teenage grandchildren who come out with us. Of course they like the most comfortable stands with the most comfortable chairs and the best sleeping accommodation.”

Hunting has been a part of Wilson’s life since he was a youngster growing up in northeast Arkansas.

“I started hunting with a Red Rider BB gun and started hunting for real when I was about 10, I suppose, with a Damascus steel hammer shotgun,” he says. “I’m a Browning man now. My eldest son shot his first buck when he was 10.”

Wilson has been a trucker for 13 years and with Cornhusker Motor Lines, mostly hauling to the West Coast and back from the mid-South, for the past 11. He hit a million miles two years ago.

Wilson chose a trucking career late in his life because he saw a way to let his mile-wide independent streak have a fair chance. As a young man he left the University of Arkansas, after dabbling in geology and a number of other “ologies” trying to find the right fit, to take over the family farm after his father died suddenly at the age of 47. That was 1965.

“I had to support the family, so I farmed for 26 years. It made me an individualist,” he says. “That farm had been in our family for five generations, but in the end we lost it.

“I had to find something else. I chose trucking because I could be my own boss. And I wanted something where I would not have to sacrifice my family for my career or my career for my family.”

It’s all worked out very well for Wilson, who is based in Jonesboro, Ark., and runs a ’99 Volvo with a dry van.

“I found a family-friendly company. I pretty much get to drive when I want, where I want and if I want, and I think the company benefits too,” he says. “It’s a great arrangement for both of us. If you put in your time, do the job right and have a good work ethic, you can have a flexible career with a good company.”

Wilson works his schedule to allow as much home time as possible and to allow time for his sporting pastimes. In July he headed to Hawaii to visit his daughter (he has three daughters, Robin, 40; Gaye, 40; and Shea, 26) and to go scuba diving and deep sea fishing.

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