John's Journal...

Winning with the Wind When You Hunt Turkeys in Oklahoma with Phillip Vanderpool

Learning the Birds

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: On my recent hunt at Rut-n-Strut near Sayre, Oklahoma, with outfitter Todd Rogers and Hunter’s Specialties’ pro Phillip Vanderpool of Harrison, Arkansas, the wind was blowing hard, knocking over trees and ripping shingles off roofs. The strength and the power of the wind almost destroyed my dreams of taking two Rio Grande gobblers, until Rogers explained that, “Because these turkeys have lived in the wind their entire lives, they’ve learned how to deal with it. And, so can you.”

The morning before our hunt began at Rut-n-Strut, we sighted-in our Click to enlargeshotguns. On this hunt, we shot the new Benelli Vinci and the new Federal Ammunition Mag Shok heavyweight turkey loads. I’d never shot these Federal shells or the Benelli Vinci. However, Layne Simpson, writer for “Shooting Times,” had experience with both. “With the new Federal Heavyweight Turkey shells, you can shoot No. 7s for turkeys and have the same knockdown power as No. 4s, with twice the amount of pellets,” Simpson explains. “I hunted doves with the Vinci about 2-weeks ago in Argentina, and in 3 days of shooting, I fired 6,800 rounds with no malfunctions. This was the first time I’d ever shot doves in Argentina with a 12 gauge. I usually shoot a 20- or a 28-gauge shotgun because of the lighter recoil. I see no reason to get beat-up from your shotgun when you’re shooting a lot of shells at a number of birds. I wasconcerned about shooting a 12 gauge, but when I learned that the ComforTech Plus recoil reduction system on the new Vinci would reduce felt recoil by 72%, I decided to try it. Even though I’d shot over 6,000 rounds in 6 days, I didn’t have a sore or a bruised shoulder. The Vinci proved to be one of the most-comfortable shotguns I’d ever shot.” Click to enlarge

When I sighted-in my gun, I paid attention to the recoil and was really surprised there wasn’t the kick you’d generally expect from a 3-inch Magnum. We went to bed that night expecting a great day of hunting the nextmorning. Todd took us to a turkey blind he’d built on the edge of a dry pond bed.  Just before first light, we heard what sounded like a turkey convention about 100 yards from us. As the sun began to rise, in that early glow before first light, we saw about 30 turkeys roosting in cottonwood trees on top of the dam. “This hunt will end quickly,” I whispered to Layne and Phillip. As the sunlight brightened, the turkeys began to pitch out of the trees, gobble, strut, cluck and yelp right out in front of us. I could see four full fans, indicating the turkeys were mature gobblers, and about 20 jakes and a few hens. As Phillip called, Click to enlargesix jakes came straight to us. But, the longbeards stayed to the back end of the pond and close to the roost trees and the hens. The six jakes were no more than 10 yards from us at one time.  When the lead hen turned and walked over the pond dam, all the turkeys in the flock followed her. And, no matter how much he called, Phillip couldn’t call the turkeys back to us.

Finally, after we were sure the turkeys had gone, we went to the edge of the pond dam and saw a green field with a row of wheat straw through the middle of it where the turkeys apparently had been feeding. We hunted the rest of the day in that area. Then just before dark, we came back to the roost and spotted four gobblers feeding in the green field. We were above the gobblers on the side of the hill. Even though we tried to call to them, the birds refused to come to us. By dark, the entire flock of turkeys had gathered right below the roost trees, and we saw them fly-up to roost. “We’ll get here early in the morning and set-up on the other side of the dam,” Phillip whispered.

To learn more about the new Benelli Vinci, visit To find out more about Federal Ammunition’s heavyweight turkey shotgun shells, check out To hunt with Todd Rogers at Rut-n-Strut Guide Service, go to, email him at, or call 580-799-1920.  For more information about Hunter’s Specialties’ top-quality turkey hunting products, visit

Tomorrow: The One That Didn’t Get Away

Check back each day this week for more about "Winning with the Wind When You Hunt Turkeys in Oklahoma with Phillip Vanderpool"

Day 1: Learning the Birds
Day 2: The One That Didn’t Get Away
Day 3: Hiding and Shooting
Day 4: Turkey Hunting Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This
Day 5: Many Lessons Learned


Entry 507, Day 1