Husband and wife outdoor writers tell tales, talk turkey


Jim Spencer’s books, Bad Birds 1,2 and 3.

I have this quirky friend up in north Arkansas that you really have to keep your eye on. Here’s what I’m talking about…I was invited once several years ago to fish the Little Red River in Arkansas for trout.

Jim Spencer, Keith Sutton and I shared a boat and although the two of them, both Arkansans, have caught a ton of trout in their lives, I had never caught one. I cast out, felt a tug on my line and hooked into my very first rainbow trout. Thrilled wasn’t an adequate word but I was so happy to finally catch a species of fish I had never caught and I was expressing my glee at finally hooking my first. 

Unbeknownst to me, Spencer had slipped up behind me while I was fighting my fish. When I first noticed him, I assumed he was there to help me land the fish if need be. Glancing back, I noticed he had his knife in his hand and a certain gleam in his eye when he reached out, not to help me land my trout but to cut my line. 

Somehow, I managed to get the fish in the boat, which was not easy to do while  maneuvering around to keep him from slicing my line. That’s one side of the Jim Spencer I know and I have learned to always keep my eyes open when I’m around him.

The other side I know and appreciate about Jim Spencer is that anything he writes, I get as absorbed in it as I did the day I kept him away from my line. Spencer is to me one of the very best outdoor writers anywhere in the country, especially when it comes to writing about his obsession, wild turkeys.  

Several years ago, Spencer started thinking about all the gobblers he has taken but the equal number that had whipped him. He came up with the idea of producing a book about times where the gobbler had won. He produced a book that would take the turkey hunting world by storm. He named it Bad Birds 1. 

Realizing there were more stories to tell, he later put together his second version of the book, naturally naming it Bad Birds 2.

Believing he had covered all the bases in talking about those gobblers that had handed him his rear end, he assumed he was done. However, there were a number of stories he knew he could tell that had yet to be told so he did it again. His latest version of his self-flagellation regarding gobblers has led him to, once again, bare his soul in Bad Birds 3.

I have read all three books and while the first two were classics, I think this last one is the best; he leaves no stone unturned in sharing his disappointment, disgust and downright frustration of the times that gobblers have beat him.

Spencer’s wife, Jill, shares his addiction of hunting turkeys and they travel the country together every spring to play games with gobblers. Jim had Jill, who is also an award winning outdoor writer herself, to produce the foreward for his latest book.  

“If you run into us somewhere along the trail in some future spring,” Jill writes, “say howdy and tell us some turkey stories. Jim is always willing to talk about these birds he can’t leave alone.”

Bad Birds 3 sells for $25 plus $6 shipping. Best bet is the package deal featuring all three Bad Birds for $55 delivered. He’ll also add his Turkey Hunting Digest for an extra $12, for a total of $67. Order to Treble Hooks Unlimited, P.O. Box758, Calico Rock, AR 72519.

You talk about a fine Christmas gift for the turkey hunter, this is it. Adding a word of caution, if you are ever privileged to share a fishing boat with Spencer, be sure and keep an eye on him; he could be opening his knife.

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