Provided by Brent Rogers
“Neither of us, probably, would go to Hell to kill a turkey gobbler, but if one was gobbling hard enough down there, we’d pilfer around the edges until we fell in.”
Such is the intensity for turkey hunting demonstrated by Jim Spencer. Spencer offers those words to his friend and fellow turkey book author, Jim Casada, in a foreword to Casada’s book, The Literature of Turkey Hunting. It is also representative of Spencer’s tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, which we are treated to in his most recent book, Bad Birds 2, which follows his equally good 2010 book, Bad Birds.
Anyone who reads many outdoor magazines will immediately know Jim Spencer, who has written more than a thousand magazine and newspaper features about turkeys and turkey hunting. He was one of the major contributors to the much loved Turkey & Turkey Hunting magazine, prior to its lamented cessation of publication (other than annual issues) in 2013. In that periodical, he had a regular column, from Fall 2001 until the last issue, entitled ‘Bad Birds.’ His books present, and build on, those stories. Spencer bestows that word, “Bad,” as a virtue of the birds that we can find so exasperating to hunt. And that is what makes turkey hunting so special! Our feathered foe is crafty, and through its cautious nature, befuddles and humiliates our best efforts. Thus, the wild turkey is a creature that commands our respect.
“…Here’s the horrible, hideous truth of it; there is no lukewarm where turkey hunters are concerned. There is no halfway. Either you is or you ain’t, and so we is, beset with all the attendant joys and sorrows, high an lows, pains and pleasures that are part and parcel to this peculiar pastime.”
In this ode to turkey hunters, Spencer expertly channels his inner Tom Kelly, as I believe they are of a similar writing style; witty, illustrative, and immensely entertaining. A self-described ‘turkey bum,’ from the north Arkansas Ozarks, Spencer has served 40 years of hard time being whipped by turkeys. He has pursued them in 3 countries and 30 states. In the book’s introduction, Jim writes “Turkey hunting is supposed to be tough. That’s the whole point.” Then he proceeds to deliver us a generous 40 chapters of epic tangles with turkeys! Jim’s well-crafted stories capture the spirit of the turkey hunter, the highs and lows of turkey hunting, and leave you with nuggets of wisdom gleaned from many individual birds and hunts.
With Jim, we’ll hunt “Han Solo,” the bird that gobbled only one ‘solo’ time each morning, and was wildly unpredictable. We learn of “The Roadrunner” bird, who weaved in and out of a treacherous forest service mountain road and the unbelievably tough “Steve Martin”…the gobbler that, like the famous comedian’s gig, wore an arrow jutting from both sides of its body! The Iron Gobbler, Lazybones, The Outlaw, Ringo, and many more will provide you hours of enjoyment in Spencer’s book. Some of the birds you may have met yourselves, and that is the beauty of what Jim Spencer does: Through his stories we recognize some of those few bad birds rode home with us, many more that outwitted us, and in the end, we are always ready to go get whipped again!
Jim Spencer’s name and reputation are well known and deserved in the turkey hunting community. He and his wife Jill Easton, also a well-known outdoor writer, live in the north Arkansas Ozarks. A self-described ‘turkey bum,’ Spencer has written more than a thousand magazine and newspaper features about turkeys and turkey hunting. In more than 40 years of being “whipped by turkeys,” as he says, he has pursued them in 3 countries and 30 states. He is one of the greats in his ability to spin a good turkey yarn. His well-crafted stories capture the spirit of the turkey hunter, the highs and lows of turkey hunting, and leave you with the nuggets of wisdom gleaned from individual birds and hunts. His excellent books, Bad Birds and Bad Birds 2 are available with a check to Treble Hook Unlimited, PO Box 758, Calico Rock, AR 72519 or by PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org.