John's Journal...

Scoring After the Rain with Phillip Vanderpool

Lessons in Every Hunt

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.

In Sayre, Oklahoma, Joe Byers, John Phillips and myself hunted with Todd Rogers at Rut N’StrClick to enlargeut Outfitters. Every time I hunt, I learn a little bit more than the last time I hunted. Rainy, nasty days always will give you an excuse to stay in camp and not hunt. However, I’ve hunted so-many bad days that I’ve learned that if you don’t stay in camp, go out and hunt, you can get your job done. The advantage we had that morning was getting a turkey to gobble before first light. That way, we knew exactly where the turkeys were holding. Because of the fog and the misty rain, we were able to move in quickly and quietly to really get in close to the turkeys that were henned up. To take a gobbler roosting with hens, get really close to him before you start calling. We were also patient enough to continue to stay on our stand, even after we thought the entire flock had left us. When you have gobblers with hens, call a lot and sound like a real flock of hens, if you want any chance of getting a gobbler to come to you.

Many hunters are afraid to call a lot to turkeys. However, when hens are calling a lot, you need to call a lot, too. Everybody wants to call gobblers, but when the gobblers are with hens, you have to call those hens to you. Using two-different tactics, we were able to get two longbeards to come in to us. The first gobbler Phillips took was a subordinate gobbler he snuck into a flock of hens. With Phillips’ turkey, we set out Hazel Creek decoys, which are real turkeys that have been freeze-dried and mounted. They’re the most-realistic decoys because they were once real tClick to enlargeurkeys.

Too, Rio Grande turkeys set up roost sites to which they’re usually loyal. The cottonwoods theyroost in are generally few and far between. So, because of the weather, we could get in close to those roosting turkeys. We used the fog, the mist, the rain and the wind to hide our movements as we got in close to the turkeys. Even if you don’t call, when the turkeys fly from the roost, you’ll have a 50-50 chance that they’ll fly your way. But with the two turkeys we saw, I’m surprised the calling brought in the subordinate gobbler Phillips took and another flock Byers had a chance at shooting in the same morning. To call in both gobblers, I listened to the hens and called just like the hens called to me. When I identified the dominant hen, I called more to her and interrupted her calling every time she’d call to me. Hen turkeys are like ladies or anyone else. They don’t like to be interrupted while they’re talking. If you constantly interrupt them with your calling, they’ll get angry and come looking for you. When they start coming toward you, they’ll pull the rest of thClick to enlargee flock and the gobblers with them.

When you’re dealing with the dominant hen like we were when calling Byers’ turkey, the best way to get the hen to come to you is to talk more than she does as well as interrupt her. I called many times with the new Hunter Specialties Ring Zone Slate Call. Too, I used a Hunter Specialties Master Striker with the carbon tip. The water and the rain don’t affect that carbon tip like they will a wood tip. Rio Grande turkeys have a little-bit higher pitch than eastern turkeys, and the Ring Zone Slate Call allows me to call a little louder. So, using these calls, I made a high-pitched, loud call to override the dominant hen. Between videoing and hunting with a bow and a gun, I probably hunt 180 days a year. I love to turkey hunt, because I like to try and make turkeys come to me. I prefer to be aggressive with the animals and make them do something because of my calling. The calling makes turkey hunting the sport I love so much.

For more information on Hazel Creek Decoys, go to

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

To learn more about Hunter’s Specialties’ top-quality products, click here.

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 5