Editor’s note: “The Turkey Hunters” is a blog that profiles notable folks in the turkey hunting industry. In this installment, we chat with Jim Casada, the dean of modern turkey hunting writers.
T&TH: Jim, how long have you hunted turkeys?
Casada: Roughly 40 years. I never even saw a wild turkey until I was grown, and I consider it one of the few areas where my boyhood growing up in North Carolina’s Great Smokies was anything but marvelous. I had to make do with tales from my father and paternal grandfather about the time when there were turkeys, along with reading Charlie Elliott’s tales of hunting them.
T&TH: I imagine you’ve experienced many magical moments during that time.
Casada: There have been so many of them it is difficult to know where to begin. I could take you straight to the spot where I killed my first turkey, and to the place where I called the first one in on my own. Honesty compels me to admit that some of the most memorable moments have involved misses or monumental foul-ups. I’m a seeming master when it comes to making mistakes. Thanks to good friends Linda Powell and Jim Zumbo, my 200th bird, taken on a hunt in Texas, was especially memorable, since they surprised me with a cake and a little celebration of the sort which makes a turkey camp so joyful. Then there was a huge Missouri gobbler that involved crawling through a skiff of snow, a big three-bearded Rio with 13/4-inch spurs, and more. Truthfully, though, as I have often written, any longbeard fairly called, studiously outwitted and cleanly killed is a prize.
T&TH: Jim, describe your longtime involvement with Turkey & Turkey Hunting.
Casada: I have been an integral part of Turkey & Turkey Hunting from the outset (1991). Initially I served, in company with Gerry Blair, as co-editor. Then, when the magazine’s editorial duties moved in-house to Iola, Wis., I became editor-at-large. I consider my affiliation with the magazine one of the real high points of more than three decades of work as an outdoor communicator.
T&TH: You’re also a self-admitted turkey bibliophile and have worked on numerous book projects. Tell us a bit that those.
Casada: My first book-length effort connected with turkey hunting was editing and compiling an anthology of the turkey-related writings of Archibald Rutledge, one of my literary heroes, and a man who was a turkey hunter for the ages. It was entitled America’s Greatest Game Bird: Archibald Rutledge’s Great Turkey-Hunting Tales. Next came an original work, Innovative Turkey Hunting, which drew on the knowledge and experiences of two highly skilled hunters, Mark Drury and Brad Harris. I’ve edited or contributed chapters, introductions or forewords to a number of books in the field, including The Turkey Hunters (edited by Brian Lovett), Neil Cost Talks Turkey, Cuz Strickland’s The Whole Truth, Michael Marks’ Neil Cost: Magic with Wood, and Realtree’s Turkey Hunting Field Book. My most recent book-length publication is The Literature of Turkey Hunting: An Annotated Bibliography and Random Scribblings of a Sporting Bibliophile, a deluxe limited-edition work growing out of my love for the history and literature of the sport. Currently, I am nearing conclusion of the first draft of Remembering the Greats: Profiles of Turkey Hunting’s Old Masters. It will consist of more than two dozen chapters chronicling the lives and accomplishments of great turkey hunters from C.L. Jordan and Tom Turpin down to recently deceased icons such as Kenny Morgan and Dick Kirby. I hope to have the book out sometime this fall.
T&TH: What’s the greatest joy you derive from turkey hunting and the outdoors?
Casada: To me, there are two answers. One involves the wonderful people I have met, hunted with and have come to call friends. The ultimate joy, however, would have to be those grand moments of solitude, times without number, which have found me hunting alone and matching wits with an old gobbler amidst the glories of a greening-up world. I have also been honored to be selected NWTF’s Communicator of the Year a few years back and, more recently, to have callmaker Ron Clough dedicate one of the limited-edition calls in his Wild Turkey Legend series to me.