A Tough Turkey Named Rastus with Phillip Vanderpool

Festus – One of the Toughest Public Land Turkeys...

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Ole Fred – Another Tough Turkey with Phillip Vanderpool

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John’s Note: When you’re looking at versatility in bowhunting, game calling and wildlife videography, Harrison, Arkansas, resident Phillip Vanderpool has done it all. With four decades of hunting experience, Vanderpool is the complete hunting/videography package. After hunting turkeys since childhood with a shotgun, Phillip decided to try the ultimate challenge – bowhunting the wild turkey – and he’s been wildly successful, even videoing some of those hunts.

The tough turkey I named Ole Fred gave me the slip (outsmarted me) several times during one season. I knew this kind of gobbler could be a season-killing gobbler, if I stayed with him and hunted him all season long. After he beat me three or four mornings, I left him and had pretty much forgotten about him until the end of the season.

Then we had a major storm the night before the last day of turkey season. The next morning I got up early and went to the area where I felt Ole Fred would be roosting. I made sure to try and get close to his roost tree well before daylight. I was ready to take Fred on this morning. Just before daylight, Fred started to gobble. To make a really long story short, I’ll just say this: Fred stayed in his tree until 10:00 am. I tried everything I could think of except dynamite to get Fred out of the tree and coming to me. I’d call to Fred, and he’d gobble back to me. I’d move and get on the other side of Fred and call to him, and he’d gobble back but still wouldn’t fly down. I did everything I knew to do, but Fred wouldn’t budge.

Finally, I went back to the place I’d first started calling from and moved in as close as I could get to the roost tree without spooking Fred. Then I began soft clucking and scratching in the leaves. Finally, sometime after 10:00 am, Fred flew out of the tree and came to me, and I took him.

Fred lived on public land, and I knew he’d been hunted hard. By the end of the season, Fred had learned not to fly out of the tree until he saw the hens. I think the bad storm we’d had the night before caused Fred to stay in the tree longer. I believe Fred also had learned that if he didn’t go to hens until he saw them, there was a good chance he wouldn’t get shot. I think I was able to take Fred because I quit calling to him with clucks and yelps and only used contented hen purrs and scratched in the leaves like a feeding hen that really wasn’t interested in breeding.

Fred has taught me that:

* public-land turkeys often will stay in the tree much longer after daylight than

private-land turkeys will.

* a tough gobbler often will want to see his hens before he flies down.

* turkeys are more reluctant to leave their roost trees early in the morning when there’s a lot of foliage and leaves on the trees, like at the end of the season.

* the storm the night before may have caused this gobbler to stay in his roost tree longer than normal.

* you may not have any competition from the hens for a gobbler like this at the end of the season when most hens are on their nests.

To learn more about turkey hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ print, Audible, Kindle and Nook turkey books at https://johninthewild.com/books/#turkey and at www.barnesandnoble.com. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone. You can learn more about calling turkeys by going to johninthewild.com/audio-files/ for audio turkey tapes to purchase of Lovett Williams, Rob Keck and Chris Kirby, available for download to your SmartPhone, tablet or computer. For a free copy of John E. Phillips’ “The Turkey Gobbler Getter Manual,” go to https://johninthewild.com/free-books/ to download.

Next: Festus – One of the Toughest Public Land Turkeys to Hunt

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