JOHNSTON CITY — Goose calling legend and call-maker extraordinaire Tim Grounds, 60, of Johnston City, was killed on Sunday in an accident at his hunting club in rural Williamson County.
Grounds had apparently been spraying weeds on the side of an embankment when his ATV overturned and landed atop of him. A statement from the Williamson County Cororer’s Office said when Grounds failed to return, home friends went to look for him and found him beneath the ATV.
A lifelong waterfowl enthusiast, Grounds parlayed his passion and talents into an international business, Tim Grounds Championship Calls. He burst into the national waterfowling spotlight by winning the World Championships in Easton, Maryland in 1988, 1992 and 1994.
But, Grounds was more than a successful caller and businessman.
“He was a good man,” said Troy Dishner, a longtime friend and goose calling competitor. “One of the best friends you could have. He was the best man in my wedding. There wasn’t anybody like him. I’m still in shock. He would do anything for you.”
Grounds’ family posted this statement on Facebook, “Hunter, his dad and I want to thank each or you for your loyalty to Tim all through the years. He loved GOD, geese, his work, his friends – he loved life. He taught so many and was generous to a fault. HE WAS THE #1 GOOSEMAN. And, if you were his friend, he had your back and you knew it.” The statement as signed by his son, Hunter, and his mother and father, Bill and Juda Grounds.
Grounds’ generosity and enthusiasm to teach others was a common theme.
“I’m so sad,” said Dwight Hoffard of Johnston City, longtime organizer of the Southern Illinois Celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days. “Tim was a unique individual, but he had a heart as big as a basketball. He always was in the middle of everything. He loved his sport and was always anxious to pass it along to the young folks. Tim was a good guy in a lot of ways. I hope people realize that.
“He passed the Tim Grounds Goose Calling Championship to us. He began that, in I think 1990, and he passed that on to National Hunting and Fishing Days. He was a big supporter of that.”
That first contest was small in scale, but eventually became recognized as one of the premier calling contests in the nation. The event drew callers from throughout the United States to National Hunting and Fishing Days.
After his calling career ended, Grounds remained a giant in the business by continuing to create new calls. He was also active in making hunting videos.
“You know what, competing against him, he would drive you to get better,” Dishner said. “It ain’t going to be the same. There are other call makers out there, but there was only one Tim. He did it for the money, but he also did it because that was what he loved doing.
“When he was in there calling, that was a big accomplishment when you won. Like he said, if you want to be the best, you have to call against the best.”
Dishner said Grounds’ “Half Breed”, a short-reed call, revolutionized the calling world.
“It just stormed the market,” he said. “It was totally different than the flute call.
“Tim is to waterfowl, what Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston and Roland Martin are to fishing. He is in that same category. He loved kids coming up. I saw him, little kids would be blowing on a call, he’d say, ‘Here, hold it this way.’ He’d take time with kids where some people don’t care they’re just trying to sell product.”
“He is the Phil Robertson (Duck Commander) of the goose,” Hoffard said. “The goose calling industry owes their current success to Tim Grounds. Tim Grounds made competitive goose calling what it is today.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.