There's something special about a book, at least for myself, in which each chapter begins with a quote. It could be something significant from another well-known author, a celebrity, or something a famous statesman said. It gets the imagination opened and flowing. It may set the stage or somehow tie in a detail that you have yet to discover, and in short, it draws you in. Wade Wineman, Jr. does just that in his 2006 book, “Bird of Courage.” With stories spanning 50 years of hunting, Wineman quickly draws in the reader with stories of old hunters and old ways. It only takes a few pages to realize what you’re reading isn't your typical, me and Joe went hunting book.
If you're afflicted with the love of turkey hunting literature, you may recognize Wade Wineman's name from his first book, “East of the Slash.” If not, I'm going to go out on a limb and say you will be searching for that title once you've read the well-written tales found in “Bird of Courage.”
Most of Wineman's stories occur in southern Mississippi at the old OK Hunting Club, and in true southern style, he makes you feel as if you're a longtime friend with each chapter. Stories of how he grew up hunting and how things have changed over the years are a huge part of what you will take away from this book. Be certain, though, even with 50 years of chasing this bird; the author never acts as if he is nothing other than your average turkey hunter. Wineman states with all realness, "It seems I never complete a spring season without discovering entirely new ways not to get turkeys." It's something this turkey hunter is also very good at.
One chapter that stands out and is well worth the price of purchasing the book is "Good Ole Days?" Wineman discusses how turkey hunting has evolved over the past five decades. Interestingly, that change he talks about is centered around the terminology of the sport. Phrases such as "Henned Up," "cutting-and-running," and "drumming" are just a few he examines. I won't go into detail but instead allow you to discover how much has changed over so many years.
The final paragraph of this chapter is one that will draw in many hunters, young and old. It poses a question that many grapple with, and I can't help but believe the answer for many is ever-changing as we grow as hunters. Wineman asks, "If you were offered a choice between hearing the most gobbling you've ever heard or heading home from the turkey woods with a gobbler over your shoulder, which would you choose?" In today's times of declining populations, I can't help but believe it's a question that crosses many hunters' minds these days. His answer is one you will want to read.
“Bird of Courage” can be a bit of a challenge to find, and your best bet is an occasional search on Amazon or eBay. I promise, though, once you get your hands on a copy of the book, you'll never let go of it.