John's Journal...

Scouting for Turkeys

Pre-Season Scouting for Turkeys with Phillip Vanderpool”

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Phillip Vanderpool of Harrison, Arkansas, an accomplished bowhunter,  has taken 31 gobblers with his bow. He’s recognized nationally for his hunting abilities and his skill with a video camera. But taking turkeys with a bow is his passion. During turkey seClick to enlargeason, he travels many states and probably logs as many, if not more hours, hunting turkeys than most of us will in three lifetimes. This week, Vanderpool will tell us how to pre-season scout for turkeys.

Question: How do you scout for turkeys during the pre-season, Phillip?
Vanderpool: I love to go out before daylight in late February and listen to turkeys gobbling. I prefer to go to a high ridge top where I can hear turkeys from a great distance; ride around with my binoculars and glass fields for turkeys; and go into creek bottoms looking for signs of turkeys scratching. My section of the country didn’t have a good mast crop last year, so I expect to find more turkeys around the fields than in the woods. As soon as we get first green-up, I’ll be looking on the edge of the creeks and on the north facing sides of fields. You get green-up quicker on north-facing slopes than you do anywhere else. If you can find water on those north-facing slopes, then the turkeys have access to both food and water. At this time of year, the turkeys probably still will be bunched-up, at least in Arkansas where I live. This is also the time of year to use your GPS to pinpoint your turkeys, especially on public lands. If you go into the area you want to hunt and mark roost trees, feeding areas and the points where turkeys like to enter and leave fields, then when turkey season arrives, you’ll know where to look for turkeys during the Click to enlargeseason. Later in March, the turkeys will begin to move, split up and form harems.

Question: What two calls are you using to locate turkeys at this time of year?
Vanderpool: Early in the morning, I like the Hunter’s Specialties Palmer Hoot Tube, Click to enlargeand the rest of the day, I’ll use the Hunter’s Specialties Hammerin’ Crow Call. I like the Crow Call because you can use it all day. First thing in the morning, I start with a single hoot. Later in the morning, when I’m using the Hammerin’ Crow Call, I give three sharp, loud, “caw, caw, caw” sounds. If you make too many crow calls, the turkey will gobble whileyou’re calling, and you won’t hear it. I use this same procedure early in the morning when I’m hooting. I use that “whoo all” single call rather than the eight-note “whoo cooks, whoo cooks, whoo cooks for you all.” The best way to locate turkeys is to have a buddy with you. Get your hunting buddy to stand 30- to 50-yards away from you, so he can listen for turkeys while you’re calling with the locator call. This way, your buddy can hear the turkeys gobbling that you can’t hear while you’re calling.

Question: When you get ready to call a turkey, what are your favorite calls to use?
Vanderpool: I use the Premium Flex Two Timer mouth diaphragm and the E-Z Deuce Cutter diaphragm. If I want to call really softly, I prefer to use the E-Z Rasp. For a box call, I use the Beard Collector, especially on windy days when I’m trying to “AT&T” the turkeys – reach out and touch them. My favorite friction call is the 360 Yelper, using either the master striker or the rosewood striker. By switching between those strikers, you can produce different sounds. Once I’ve got the turkey in close, I usually close the deal with a mouth call.

Check back each day this week for more about "Scouting for Turkeys "

Day 1: Pre-season Scouting
Day 2: Scouting the Early Morning and Hunting Strut Zones
Day 3: Pre-Season Scouting for Turkeys with Phillip Vanderpool
Day 4: Finding Turkeys During Turkey Season with Rick White
Day 5: Scouting for Turkeys with Eddie Salter


Entry 447, Day 3