“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle….” 2 Samuel 11:1a (ESV). The brilliantly titled book When Kings Go To Battle opens with that Bible verse, an nice nod to our encounters in the woods with spring gobblers. It is a book I’m enthusiastically endorsing! Written by the affable Michael T. Simpson, it is an easy read in its storytelling format, but also has depth provided by the learnings and progression of this passionate turkey hunter’s journey.
I first learned of Michael through our mutual friend, wild turkey literature author Andy Cantrell, who did the Foreword in this book. Andy was excited about the book that Michael had put together, and I learned more about it from both men-enough to confidently promote it with fellow turkey literature enthusiasts. When I received the book, it did not disappoint! A nicely done hardback with a slick dust jacket, I found plenty to relate to and appreciate between the covers. The introduction alone I read several times, as I discovered in Michael a kindred spirit in how turkey hunting is a lifestyle for him. Our friends, our leisure pursuits, our domiciles and our dreams are all influenced by our love of the wild turkey and its hunting.
I have chronicled every one of my turkey hunts, going back to my first solo bird, as has Michael, who now is able to pull from that carefully maintained chronicle for his book. His first chapter is cleverly written in the third person, which allows him to be more objective in telling the story of his turkey hunting journey, which goes from casual observer to successful and committed turkey hunter. Interspersed in his turkey tales are moments of great humor; “Then my pants fell to the ground” is the punchline to one entertaining story. Always respectful of the turkey, as Michael goes to battle with the wily gobbler, he includes elements in his storytelling that resonated with me, like the special…almost sacred…places we hunt.
While there are lessons learned that he shared, this is not a “how to” book or preachy philosophy book. It is well crafted in that many chapters are themed, allowing Michael to tell stories within stories, something the talented Tom Kelly does well. I had the chance to meet Michael at the Unicoi Custom Callmakers show in Helen, GA last January. Similar to the book, I was not disappointed! A humble southern gentleman, he was excited to be there sharing and selling his new book, and was open to feedback given (thankfully) this book won’t be his last. It gave me the chance to ask Michael more about some of the stories from the book, for instance I just had to know more about the barge collision with his hunting boat (another interesting story!).
When I got a text from Michael awhile back I was shocked to learn that the March 24, 2023 tornado that devastated the town of Rolling Fork, MS had also heavily damaged his town and home in Amory, MS. Ever the glass half full kind of guy, Michael was making the best of it, even sharing with me a photo of how his copy of my recent book on his desk, Turkey Call and Literature Collector’s Guide, had survived the tornado hit, though had been covered in broken glass. His Bible and hunting journal, which were open on his desk “both have permanent tornado evidence on those pages.” It is heartbreaking to see people such as Michael impacted by such events, and it did mean a lot of disruption to his turkey season, and canceling some plans to hunt out of state. I was elated to get his April 12 message… a simple shadow of a man with a wild turkey slung over his shoulder. Michael…it is great seeing you back in the battle!
When Kings Go To Battle is available by text or call from Michael at 662-231-4599.