Anticipating turkey season, I've been reading a lot of turkey hunting literature lately, including Memories of Spring, a new book by Ron Jolly.
Jolly, a Mississippi resident, is a former videographer for Primos and also for the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Of course, he is an avid turkey hunter who also had the good sense to marry my friend Tes Randle Jolly, one of America's most accomplished wildlife photographers. Jolly said that Tes knows more about eastern wild turkeys and their behavior than any 10 of the best turkey hunters combined.
"When you and I call up a gobbler, it's 'boom,' and our job is done," Jolly said. "When Tes calls up a gobbler, she has to keep him there. Every little thing they do, she can tell you everything about why they do it. She's amazing, and her being involved with this project was icing on the cake."
Tes's photos appear liberally throughout the book. I would have preferred color photos, but since the the book is self published, Jolly had to watch his costs. However, the paper is heavy and dense, which makes the black-and-white images very clear and gives them a surprising degree of pop.
Jolly is an excellent storyteller, and the copy flows fluidly. He begins with his earliest turkey hunting experiences and progresses through the years with many exciting accounts of his most memorable hunts and his most memorable gobblers.
One chapter is dedicated to the "Character Gobblers," the ones that a hunter comes to know and respect over several seasons. In Memories of Spring, they have names like Rude Robert and Pancho and Lefty. Those that continue to elude a hunter ultimately become what Jolly calls "Grudge Gobblers."
The entire book contains plenty of red-meat hunting stories and a great many tips on calling, positioning and other tactical elements.
The most important element for success, Jolly wrote, is simply being there. While shooting in 1993 for what eventually became The Truth V -- Trickin' Em, video, Jolly wore a pedometer that was calibrated at 2 feet per step, his average stride while wearing 25 pounds of camera gear. Jolly also kept a journal that recorded how far he walked, how many gobblers and hens he saw, how many turkeys he heard and the number of turkeys killed.
Over 43 days, Jolly accompanied 20 different hunters in 11 locations in seven states. He heard 161 turkeys gobble, saw 135 turkeys and shot video for 119 turkeys, of which 41 were longbeards. Of those, hunters killed 15, and they comprised the video.
For that, Jolly walked 195.5 miles, or 4.5 miles per day with a 25-pound camera load in all types of terrain.
"If I have an edge in the turkey woods, it is the fact that when the season is open I am there," Jolly wrote.
Copies are available for $30 from Jolly's Outdoor Visions, 204 Fast Lane, Tuskegee, AL 36083. You can also order online from amazon.com.
Between the Shoals
Z.Z. LaFourche of Little Rock has written a unique take on wildlife in the form of an action thriller set on the Fourche River in Scott County.
Also self-published, Between the Shoals is a battle of good and evil among animal characters that inhabit two communities that resemble frontier river towns. The town Between the Shoals is home to hard-working, hard-playing residents led by The Mayor, a 12-point whitetail buck. His security team is a female bobcat and a one-eyed armadillo. In previous lives, the buck was a general. The bobcat was a British special forces intelligence officer and the armadillo was in the French Foreign Legion.
Upstream is a community of maleficents that are intent on conquering Between the Shoals and ultimately the entire valley by making the citizens dependent on their laboratory-made spirits. They, too, were human in previous lives, and they refight previous battles through the ages through visions that flicker through hazy flashbacks.
Wildlife purists will disapprove of the anthropomorphism. Relax, chill out and enjoy a well-written, fast-paced story with well-developed characters that live out a story of deception, betrayal, ethical and spiritual compromise and, ultimately, redemption. It's a great read while you're stuck waiting for the rain to subside. Paperback and Kindle copies are available on amazon.com.
LaFourche says that a sequel is in the making. For more information, visit betweentheshoals.com.
Sports on 03/12/2020