This interview marks the start of a second series of interviews Rich Walton and I want to do. These “celebrity” interviews will be with folks outside of the industry that like archery or bowhunting. It’s a great way to promote the sport and hear from folks outside of archery.
I hope you will enjoy this first interview in the series, with Rev. Wil Graham. Wil is the son of Rev. Franklin Graham and grandson of the famous Rev. Billy Graham. Here’s Wil….
FA: Where were you born and raised? Tell us about your family growing up…
I was born in Colorado and raised in Boone, North Carolina. My brothers and sister and I had a simple upbringing on a farm. My dad purposely kept us out of the spotlight. He wanted to keep that pressure from us. We would spend our days hunting or riding dirt bikes. I’m just a redneck at heart.
FA: What’s it like to grow up around a man like Rev. Billy Graham?
Will, Franklin and the Rev. Billy Graham
You know, the rest of the world knows him as Billy Graham. I know him as Daddy Bill. He’s just a wonderful grandfather. When we were kids, my dad’s parents and my mom’s parents lived just down the road from each other, so we would spend a lot of time with both sets of grandparents. One of the things Daddy Bill and I have in common is that we were both church pastors before beginning evangelistic ministries. He pastored a church in Illinois before becoming an evangelist. I have relied on him heavily over the years for advice and guidance.
FA: Who introduced you to archery for the first time? What about hunting and bowhunting?
It was actually my brother Roy, who first took up bowhunting in the family. I shot his bow and was quite impressed with how easy and accurate they were. About 2 years later, friends from Boone asked us to go hunting with them on their ranch in Texas—one stipulation—bowhunting only. So soon afterwards we got our own bows and I have been shooting ever since.
FA: What is it about bowhunting that attracted your attention?
Multiple reasons. First, I was so impressed on how easy and accurate the new bows were to shoot. Second, in the mountains of NC (especially in our county—Watauga)—it allowed us a longer time to hunt. Gun season in our county (growing up) was only 4 weeks in December. With a bow in my arsenal, I was able to hunt almost all of September, all of October and November (minus one week for muzzleloader) and all of December. Third, it also gave me a new and greater challenge to get the animal even closer, without the animal knowing I was sitting right above him.
Wil and friend CJ with Wil’s buck
FA: How often with your schedule do you get to hunt?
This year will be a little crazy because I have recently moved and started a new job here in Asheville, NC—so I am still looking for a house during all my free time. I usually try to go on three major hunts a year, which range from Alaska, to Montana, Eastern North Carolina, and Texas. Hopefully I will at least make it to Eastern NC and Texas this year.
Wil with Montana buck.
FA: What about the places you have traveled bowhunting?
The only places that I have bow hunted are in North Carolina (which is hard, because of the suppressive heat and gun season in the Eastern part of the state comes in so early—so all deer movement becomes almost nothing). Therefore, I bow hunt the most in Texas. Our friends have a private ranch set up for bow hunting only—and it is great!
FA: Any game you look forward to bowhunting and any places in particular you’d like to bowhunt?
Our motto is “brown is down” —therefore I like to go after anything and everything. But right now at the top of my list would probably be a turkey—-so maybe this winter I can get one. My favorite animal to go after with a bow is the whitetail—-and big whitetails. I never hunted Kansas, maybe one day I will have chance to bowhunt for great Kansas deer.
FA: Have you introduced any of the other members of the Graham family to archery or hunting?
My two brothers and my father all bow hunt—we all took it up within a year or two each other. However, at my church, where I served for 7 years, I got a lot of the staff into bowhunting, which we still get together to do. Half the staff was shooting bows, so we set up our own indoor bow range inside our Family Life Center (gym) and would shoot up to 40 yds inside!
FA: Do you have any current projects you would like to speak about?
I have held several evangelistic events – I call them Celebrations – internationally. In October, I will be hosting my first US Celebration under the banner of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA). It will be a three-day event in Gastonia, N.C., just down the road from the BGEA headquarters in Charlotte. There will be a lot of great music, and I will preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and challenge the audience to make a commitment to Him as their Lord and Savior. I have several other events in 2007 that are currently in the planning stages.
FA: Do you have any last words of advice or wisdom for our readers?
Wherever you are today and whatever you’re doing, whether you’re up in a tree stand or behind a desk, stop for a moment to consider where your life is at and what would happen to you today if you were no longer here. Would you go to heaven? Do you have a personal relationship with God’s son, Jesus Christ? God loves you and wants you to be in heaven with him one day, but you need to get there His way, and that’s through accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. If you would like to know more, please visit www.billygraham.org and click on “Spiritual Help.”