PROBABLY 80 percent or more of my social media “friends” are outdoor types. During this challenging time of trying to balance “social distancing” with a semblance of normal life, it is apparent that separation from crowded society is something at which my pals excel. Looking at their fishing photos or turkey hunting photos as we roll into spring is a reassuring thing.
If you are in a somewhat isolated situation, it’s a good time to catch on things. Spring cleaning (home, phone or computer) is easier now. Yard work is always available. And then there is reading.
For turkey hunters who may feel a little trapped, you can escape with a good book, such as “Memories of Spring,” written by my friend Ron Jolly and illustrated by his wife Tes Randle Jolly, one of America’s most accomplished wildlife photographers.
Jolly has hunted wild turkey for more than 50 years. He has been his own triggerman on many hunts, but for nearly a decade he was a cameraman, carrying 25 pounds of gear for miles each day while filming hunts around the country for Will Primos, one of the innovators in game calls and outdoors gear.
In 1996, his last year of filming for Primos, Jolly drove more than 8,000 miles in 26 days, recording 11 gobbler kills across multiple states. It was a grind. He and Tes later produced videos for production companies, before ending up as the producer of the Outdoor Alabama television show. His work in presenting the story of the wild turkey and hunting earned him 2020 induction in the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Grand National Hall of Fame.
He’ll tell you up front that this isn’t a book on how and where to find bigger and more turkeys, The book does have a section that covers some “tricks” (one especially hilarious) and other things that helped fool gobblers. If you read it, you can learn from some of the successes and, importantly, the foibles that were part of memorable hunts.
Jolly grew up in northeast Louisiana but today he and Tes have a farm in Alabama loaded with deer, turkey and some problematic wild hogs. He begins his stories with earliest recollections of tagging along on hunts with his father, including the one where he got to wield the single-shot, 20-gauge shotgun. As you read it, you are that boy lying there next to his father as the gobbler slowly approaches.
The book transitions to recollections and lessons from a wide variety of hunts. One section is called “Grudge Gobblers,” for those next-to-impossible to kill toms that frustrate the crap out of you.
This is contrasted by birds he calls “Volunteers.” They’re the often-younger toms that haven’t gained experience and come running to the call, making you feel like you are a turkey hunting master. Then you have “Character Turkeys,” the ones we all like to name due to some unique behavior they exhibit or frustration they generate. The book has a lot of material about friendships and relationships, often generated by a love for turkey hunting.
Jolly notes “Memories of Spring” is likely the first and only book he’ll write, adding, “In today’s world, there doesn’t seem to be much demand anymore for warm, fuzzy stories told by sappy old men. Today, it’s all about where, when and how. I regret that because the true lore of turkey hunting involves the emotions and experiences of the hunt, the nature and characteristics of the bird and not the kill.”
Sadly, I worry he is right. If you want to lose yourself in some artfully told stories about “memories of Spring,” buy the book. It’s a good one.
Find it on Amazon or send check or money order for $30 to: Jolly’s Outdoor Visions, 204 Fast Lane, Tuskegee, AL 36083. If you order directly, include a note if you’d like it inscribed.
DGIF Update on CORONAVIRUS
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries announced a multitude of changes and closures last week in response to the statewide precautions associated with the COVID-19 virus.
All DGIF regional offices and the headquarters in Henrico County are closed for walk-in traffic until further notice. People wanting to buy licenses, register boats or do other transactional business should use gooutdoorsvirginia.com. Most transactions are available online. All DGIF fish hatcheries also are closed to the public.
Last week’s board meetings were cancelled. The next meetings are scheduled for May 27-28.
The 2020 trout stocking program is also being modified. Heritage Day on April 4, is canceled and stockings for the urban waters and youth-only stocked trout programs will no longer be pre-announced, although all waters will still receive their full allotment of trout stockings for the season. Trout stocking at DGIF’s three fee fishing areas (Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek and Douthat Lake) will not begin in early April as planned. Stockings in these areas will resume as soon as possible.
All in-person hunter education classes have been postponed until at least April 14 but are still available online at hunter-ed.com/virginia. Kalkomey, the online provider, has donated 1,000 courses to ensure students can still get the instruction while at home. To obtain the complementary hunter education certificate, use the code G1VirginiaHE202 when registering. You must register by April 14 for the free course.
Without discounting the toll this new virus is enacting on some people afflicted with it, many experts believe the current inconveniences and struggles will be brief, especially when compared to some of the past difficulties people have endured.
As a community of outdoor enthusiasts, let’s do our part to help our nation and world successfully navigate through this. Encourage safe and responsible behavior.
For more outdoors adventures, wild game recipes, travel and more, see Ken Perrotte’s weblog at outdoorsrambler.com.