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America, Wild Turkeys, and Mongrel Dogs: Bottomland Book Club

Life Lessons from a Hunting Master

Provided by Jason Worley

Every so often, a hunter will come across something that will stir them to their core. It may be a sight that pulls them to a sudden stop and forces them to think. It may be a smell that drifts through the timber or across a field that, once registered in their mind, takes them back to a time they long for. It could be the words of the one who set them upon the path of a hunter and simply said "go," forever changing them as a human. It could be the written words of a true icon of their favorite pursuit. Words that somehow grab ahold of their soul and make them realize there is more to the pursuit than they ever imagined.

American, Wild Turkeys, and Mongrel Dogs

In 2014, I sat down and read the book, “America, Wild Turkeys and Mongrel Dogs” by Kenny Morgan, and it grabbed hold of this turkey hunter as little else has. If you've been involved in turkey hunting in any form or fashion for very long, you will recognize the author's name. Morgan wrote one of the defining books on turkey hunting in 1987 titled "Turkey Hunting, A One Man Game." Morgan also made and sold a line of turkey callers highly sought after by collectors still today. 

Morgan, who the turkey hunting world lost in 2011, tells us all in a straightforward yet respectful way that it matters how we act as hunters. Through the antics of his childhood mongrel dog, Buster, he explains that the act of "pissing on the porch" has become not only a scourge infecting America but the turkey hunting world as well. After reading the book, you will come to understand the meaning of that phrase.  Morgan's adherence to the fair chase philosophy is one of great strength, and he lets the reader know that we all must strengthen that adherence if we are to continue enjoying, not just turkey hunting, but all forms of hunting.

Through experiences gained during 50 years of pursuing this grand bird, Morgan tells the story of not only how to hunt this bird but how to carry yourself as a true turkey hunter. In his own words, Morgan states, "My intent is to set standards by teaching the artistry of the hunt: practicing cleverness and integrity in the pursuit of wild things." Standards that he exemplified, and I fear are being slowly corrupted in today's world of “whatever it takes."

Classic Turkey Literature: Mark Twain

Let me be clear, though; Morgan does not come off as a holier than thou hunter or purist. He makes it clear through his stories that the path to being a turkey hunter who "gets it" is one we all must travel, and everyone is capable of understanding what it takes. Morgan's ability to relate to us all is truly something. He writes, "My hope is that many readers will come to understand that mongrel dogs pissing on the porch now comprise a large part of America. Some of them even like to hunt wild turkeys." He adds, "I'm sure I have some mongrel in me, too; in fact, it's a good thing to recognize the mongrel within and deal with it."    

I'll leave you with the two words that Morgan states in this book that brought me to that sudden stop and made me look at myself, not only as a turkey hunter but as a human being….."Live artfully." We would all do better to live and hunt by those two words.

I ask you, sincerely, to search out this book and read it. It will make you a better turkey hunter as well as a better person. You can find it at America, Wild Turkeys & Mongrel Dogs: Life Lessons From a Hunting Master.

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