Meridian Star

November 29, 2013

My book of turkey hunting adventures

By Otha Barham
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — When I started writing for newspapers and magazines, I soon learned that everyone has a story. First a “life story” and second a ton of interesting happenings in each life. Writers are people who can't keep from writing (sharing) the stories of others and themselves.

    Book authors create stories in a form that can last for many generations. That is a special attraction that writing a book offers. Many of us who write outdoor non-fiction for other media are moved in our mature years to write a book; partly because we have scads of stories from many years, partly because we want others to enjoy what we have enjoyed, partly because we would like to give our stories longevity, partly because we want our descendants to know something about our lives, and probably for other reasons specific to individual authors.

    Several years ago I wrote a book of my favorite stories. Now I have just published a book about my hunting passion for most of my adult life; pursuing wild turkey gobblers in spring. If you should write about something you are passionate about, then I have followed the formula here. Turkey hunting was my choice over hunting bull elk by a narrow but definite margin. The two are much alike; you talk with each of these wonderful creatures as you try to get them to come to you. The major difference is that when a gobbler hears your yelp he wants to pitch woo with you and when a bull elk hears your bugle he wants to kill you. This makes for excitement for both the caller and the callee.

    And so my new turkey book, “Spring Beckonings,” is a collection of my finest experiences and the best I have to offer toward the goal of good writing. The book has 37 accounts of special turkey hunts, remarkable gobblers or unique persons of the cult known by sane folks as simply “turkey hunters.”

    For the edification of those unfamiliar with the peculiarities of turkey hunters, the activity is indeed made up of cultists who are, or strive to be, more dedicated, loyal, disciplined, than those who hunt other game as a first choice. There is a spiritual aspect to these turkey hunters which, when added to the total of their involvement can be seen by everyday people as fanaticism . An example of a behavior seen as strange by others is that turkey hunters are gratified when a particular gobbler eludes them, particularly if the bird foils the hunter's efforts to kill him day after day, week after week. The hunters' satisfaction can be even greater than the reward of calling the bird to gun and bagging him. Anti-hunters and others may find it hard to understand why a hunter is happy when he/she fails. But it is true.

    Such supremely elusive birds are given names, sometimes uncomplimentary ones at first, because of persistent frustration, but most often a name that suits their behaviors or location and sometimes even indicates respect or praise. Some of the birds in “Spring Beckonings,” are Two Face, Gabriel, Ping Pong Pete and Sidekick.

    My story of Gabriel won third place in the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association Excellence in Craft awards program in competition with the best outdoor writers in over 15 states. In this magazine article category, one had to compete against all entered stories of any outdoor subject matter – not just specifically turkey hunting stories. The first story in my book, titled “Beckoning,” won first place in the daily newspaper category. One story, “Beginner's Gobbler,” was first published in Outdoor Life with its title on the magazine's cover.

    I have the finest endorser's possible for a book about turkey hunting. They include the two most prolific turkey book and magazine writers in the country. The foreword is by Tom Kelly, the acknowledged national guru of turkey hunters.

    So far the book has sold in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, Florida, Texas, Missouri, Kansas and many states which these encircle. For signed or inscribed copies send check for $ 15.95 plus $ 1.12 tax to Otha Barham, 3100 38th Street, Meridian, MS 39305. For hard back copies with dust cover send $ 22.95 plus $ 1.61 tax. Non-residents of Mississippi omit the tax. Add $ 5.00 shipping and handling for each book. For multiple book orders call or E-mail for reduced shipping costs. Phone (601) 482-4440. E-mail For inscriptions, write the person's name and/or inscription words.