With record cold just through biting at our heels and several days of gray gloominess predicted for the next few days, the opening of spring turkey season seems a distant dream.
Yet as surely as March brings winds and budding plants and April produces lordly gobblers declaring to all within earshot that they are in love, things will change.
In the meantime, the avid turkey hunter can keep warm and prepare for the upcoming season with several good books. Here are my recommendations for ten books every turkey hunter should read. Except for the first two, they are in no particular order of importance.
1. “The American Wild Turkey” by Henry Edwards Davis. Written in 1949 by a South Carolinian, and reprinted twice, this is THE book when it comes to a full understanding of, and appreciation for, the sport. This work truly deserves the description “classic.”
2. “Tenth Legion” by Tom Kelly. Often described as the poet laureate of turkey hunting, Kelly combines wit, wisdom, and whimsy in a marvelous way. He’s written more than a dozen books, and once you’ve read this one you might want to get “The Best of Tom Kelly.”
3. “America’s Greatest Game Bird” by Archibald Rutledge. This is a collection of 34 of the finest tales Rutledge wrote on turkey hunting, and it was my privilege to edit and compile the work. Rutledge was a masterful storyteller who knew the sport wonderfully well.
4. “The Old Pro Turkey Hunter” by Gene Nunnery. This is one of two books by the last Mississippi turkey hunter, and it is filled with a fine mixture of common sense information and specific examples of how master turkey hunters go about their business.
5. “Turkey Hunting: A One Man Game” by Kenny Morgan. A school teacher, Vietnam veteran, and genuinely delightful individual, the late Kenny Morgan had a real knack for blending practical information with first-hand experience.
6. “Turkey Hunting Digest” by Jim Spencer. For practical information and coverage of about every aspect of the sport it’s tough to beat the writing of this longtime turkey scribe.
7. “The Art & Science of Wild Turkey Hunting” by Lovett E. Williams Jr. No one has ever known more about wild turkeys or spent more time studying them as a biologist than Dr. Williams. Williams had a knack for turning science into practical information, and he was one of the finest turkey hunters I’ve ever known.
8. “The Wild Turkey and Its Hunting” by E. A. McIlhenny. This is the first book ever written on the sport and the tale of how it came to be reads like a murder mystery. While McIlhenny’s name appears on the title page, almost all the book was written by Charles L. Jordan.
9. “Turkey Hunting with Charlie Elliott” by Charlie Elliott. This old-time Georgia writer hunted with many masters of the sport and knew turkey hunting in the South inside out. He is a pure joy to read.
10. “The Education of a Turkey Hunter” by William Hanenkrat. This book is an overlooked gem deserving of wider attention.