Local Folks: Evan Tucker

Local Folks: Evan Tucker
Evan Tucker

Evan Tucker is a Lakeshore man who works throughout Jacksonville as a tangible asset manager of estate properties, boats, and airplanes. In fact, he’s an aviation expert, serving as a private pilot and an aircraft mechanic. He is also co-founder of the nonprofit Cowford Conservation, which represents sportsmen in the Jacksonville area. The mission is to preserve Old Florida’s outdoor heritage with a main focus on improving the river. His free time is spent toward those efforts.

“I’m a big family man, too,” Tucker said. He’s been married for 16 years to Carolyn, a Jacksonville girl who was raised on the west side of the river. They have two sons: three-year-old Elijah and four-month-old Ripley. “I’m very proud of what we’ve created,” he said.

Evan Tucker, even as husband and father, is an outdoorsman through and through. He has spent his whole life on the water in and around Jacksonville and beyond. While growing up in East Arlington, he often went fishing with his dad. His family had always abided by the rules set forth by the government; if it were legal to do so, they kept and ate what they caught.

But as he grew, Tucker began to notice rapid changes on the St. Johns River. The number of fish decreased as the water quality diminished. He became more aware. The more he learned, the more he researched, and the more intimate he became with the natural resources surrounding us.

Tucker is 40 now, and he knows that when his parents were his age, the river was very different from what it is today. There were so many more fish swimming around. Tucker knows that if harvesting continues, there will be nothing left. He decided, “Just because something is allowed or legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”

The Tuckers
The Tuckers

Today, Tucker still fishes on the St. Johns and the Intracoastal. He targets redfish, his favorite species locally, and he likes tarpon, too, when they are in season. But today, he mostly catches and releases them. Rarely does he harvest anymore, as he has learned the damage that too much of it does. He prefers to practice sustainable fishing. He’s careful about their handling. Tucker feels that, if done correctly, the catch and release method offers a very high success rate of survival. “There’s plenty of science behind it,” he said. Periodically, he does keep the fish he catches; he’s not opposed to others doing so too. “I just don’t think that every one you catch you should keep,” he said.

Tucker didn’t hunt with his dad the way they used to fish together, but his natural love for the outdoors expanded into hunting as he got older. As the local region is too developed and populated for hunting, Tucker travels to Clay County for that or even farther to Hawthorne in Alachua County. Seasonally, he likes to hunt deer, pigs, and turkeys.

The fact that Tucker is a nonprofit conservationist and at the same time a hunter is a stigma he carries, one that he is quick to dispel. “Hunters and fishermen are the largest conservationists in the world,” he said. He claims to know more about the species he chases than anyone who doesn’t. He knows their habitat and their reproductive rates. He respects animals and cares deeply about their survival. “Harvesting them doesn’t mean obliterating them. Hunting is actually the inverse. There has to be a sustainable harvest for the species to thrive,” Tucker said. If not, overpopulation leads to habitat issues, and the species could die out from starvation and disease.

So, Tucker is protecting life as he hunts, just as he does with his catch-and-release fishing, but in a different way. Tucker said that the fish live in a changing environment with out-of-control pollution declining water quality that is dramatically reducing the habitat, so the fish here are a lot more delicate than the land animals.

“I like to fish and hunt. A lot. But I love my family more. And I spend as much time with them as I possibly can,” Tucker said. Together, they spend time on and in water. Of course, they have their own boat. Often, they climb aboard and head to Timuquana Country Club, where they are members, and spend time at the pool there. At other times, they spend time fishing together. Tucker is already teaching Elijah to fish. In fact, he recently took him shrimping. Someday soon enough, Ripley’s turn will come.

By Mary Wanser
Resident Community News

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