John's Journal...

Scoring After the Rain with Phillip Vanderpool

Hunting the Subdominant Gobbler

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Many sections of the United States have turkey season through the end of May. This week, Phillip Vanderpool from Harrison, Arkansas, a member of Hunter’s Specialties’ Pro Staff Hunt Team, will tell us about hunting turkeys in the rain, since much of the U.S. has experienced heavier-than-normal rains this spring. As an accomplished bowhunter, Vanderpool has taken three Boone and Crockett bucks, as well as several Pope and Young whitetails and numerous turkeys.Click to enlarge

In Sayre, Oklahoma, Joe Byers, John Phillips and myself hunted with Todd Rogers at Rut N’Strut Outfitters. We heard the gobblers and the hens walking away from us on the morning we hunted, yet I kept calling, using more than one call. I was trying to give the impression that there was a lonesome flock of hens sitting on the edge of the field. By using the diaphragm call and the slate call, I could sound like a harem of hens. I hoped there was a subdominant gobbler not traveling with the flockthat would be able to hear the dominant gobbler and the hens and think another flock of hens wasn’t following the dominant gobbler.

A mistake many hunters make is they chase a flock of turkeys and forget there’sClick to enlargeoften more than one gobbler in the area. So, if the flock is moving with the dominant gobbler, and more hens are calling, then the subordinate gobblers may go to the other hens. I believed that if there was one subordinate gobbler that wouldn’t move with the flock and he heard this other group of hens on the edge of the little field, he’d come searching for the hens. And, that’s exactly what happened.

This turkey appeared in the fog in front of us. I saw him do a half strut and then start comiClick to enlargeng straight toward us. I knew then that this was a subordinate gobbler that had slipped away from the main flock and was coming to what he believed was a flock of hens without a gobbler with them. As the turkey slipped through the mist and down the edge of the tall grass, I could tell by his spurs that he was 4- or 5-years old. As the gobbler moved toward us, the turkey turned sideways and Phillips took the shot with his Benelli Super Black Eagle, downing the bird quickly and efficiently. Because the other flock of turkeys was behind us, they heard the shot and began to gobble. As soon as Phillips shot his turkey, I started cutting and calling to possibly get the hens with the other gobbler fired up, which I did. The flock of turkeys came by Byers, but it was so foggy he couldn’t see clear enough to find the gobbler and take the shot.

To contact Todd Rogers at Rut N’Strut Outfitters, call 580-799-1920 or email

Tomorrow: Almost Got ‘Em

Check back each day this week for more about "Scoring After the Rain with Phillip Vanderpool"

Day 1: How to Hunt Turkeys in the Rain
Day 2: Hunt the Hens to Take the Gobbler
Day 3: Hunting the Subdominant Gobbler
Day 4: Almost Got ‘Em
Day 5: Lessons in Every Hunt


Entry 458, Day 3