Scoring After the Rain with Phillip Vanderpool
How to Hunt Turkeys in the Rain
Editor’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.
John Phillips of Birmingham, Alabama, Joe Byers of Virginia, and I hunted for Rio Grande turkeys with Todd Rogers at Rut’n Strut Outfitters in Sayre, Oklahoma, west of Elk City. When we arrived in Sayre to hunt with Todd Rogers, we found some creek and river bottoms with rolling red hills. We had 3,500 acres to hunt Rio Grande turkeys. There are plenty of ways to hunt turkeys in the rain, but one of my favorite ways to hunt them is from a blind. Turkeys love to go to openings like fields in the rain. If you set up your blind, put out some decoys and be patient, many times the turkeys will show-up. I like to set up my blind where there is a bottleneck between two fields. This way, regardless of which field the turkey flies down to, they have a clean area where they can walk. When I’m set up in a blind like that, I call very sparingly about every 10 minutes.
Now you just don’t set up blindly on a field. I like to scout a field and see where the turkeys like to go. I find scratchings and droppings, and then I’m confident in a field before I hunt it. Many times I won’t hunt a field whether rain’s falling or not. But on rainy days, you know the turkeys will go to openings. So, if you get in before daylight and set up your blinds, you can hunt comfortably all day long, even in the pouring rain. You know the turkeys will come to the field, because they can’t hear or see as well when it’s raining as they can when they’re out in the field. A turkey walking through open woods in a downpour is an invitation to dinner for a predator, but in the field they can see the predators coming.
The new blind from Hunter Specialties called the Boiler Room is a real improvement on blinds that we’ve had in the past. It’s ideal for hunting turkeys or deer from the edge of a field. What I like about the Boiler Room blind is you can fit three people in that blind comfortably. Usually when an area has rain, it also has wind, but that blind will keep you dry and warm when you’re hunting in the rain. The Boiler Room is quick and easy to set up, and it’s extremely portable. It’s also black inside, so even if you have the windows up, you can move around without the turkeys seeing you. The windows also have camouflage netting that you can see through without the turkeys spotting you. You either can raise the netting up and shoot through the open window, or you can leave the netting down and shoot through the netting. Because the netting is Velcro and attached to the windows, it is really easy to replace. Now I don’t shoot a shotgun through the netting, but when I’m bow hunting for deer, I don’t hesitate to shoot through the netting.
One mistake many people make when they hunt from a blind, like the Boiler Room, is they sit as close as they can to the front of the blind. But you’ll be far more successful if you sit further back in the blind and put the first inch or two of the barrel of your gun outside the window of the blind. This way the turkeys won’t see you, and you can move around and do whatever you need to do to get the shot. The other thing I do is rest my gun barrel on the window of the blind when the turkeys are coming. Then the gun and I are both in position to take the shot. Once the turkeys come in to the range where I want to take them, all I have to do is raise the barrel and aim.
The members of the Hunter Specialties Pro staff travel all over the country, and we have to hunt in all kinds of weather. If you hunt turkeys in the spring and spend a lot of days in the field, you will have to hunt on days when the rain is coming down. Now you have a choice of doing one of two things: staying in the camp and not hunting; or going to the places the turkeys will be (the fields and openings), putting out some decoys, doing some calling and having a really good chance of taking a turkey, while you stay dry and out of the weather in a Boiler Room blind.
You can’t control the weather, but you can control how wet you get, and how successful you are. Each day you hunt, you’re chances of taking a turkey are 200% better when you’re out in the field trying to take a turkey than when you’re sitting in the camp, dodging the rain. So I always carry a Boiler Room blind with me whenever I go hunting. And on this particular day, we must have seen 30 or 40 turkeys. We had two-different longbeards come in, but the majority of the turkeys we saw were jakes. Every time the longbeards would come in close to the decoys, the jakes would run them off and not let the longbeards come in to those hen decoys. We got to see a great show and an awful lot of turkeys (including longbeards). However, the jakes kept us from taking those longbeards. This year at the place we hunted, there were so many jakes that I know for certain that next year you’ll have to kick longbeards out of your way just to get to your blind.
For more information on Hunter’s Specialties’ top-quality products, go to www.hunterspec.com.
To contact Todd Rogers at Rut N’Strut Outfitters, call 580-799-1920 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tomorrow: Hunt the Hens to Take the Gobbler