It’s easiest to call a gobbler into a place he already wants to be, but that’s not always an option. Phillip Vanderpool, host of The Virtue TV, frequently faces this problem when he’s bowhunting, when he’s stuck on small farms or public land, or when he’s guiding young or physically challenged hunters. In any of those situations, mobility is limited. So Vanderpool, who has arrowed 66 gobblers in his lifetime, creates the best setup possible, and then he does a “walkabout” to lure gobblers to where he wants them.
How It’s Done
Vanderpool first selects an area that offers good shooting opportunities for him, and decent visibility for the turkey. A pop-up blind helps conceal movement, particularly for bowhunting. He uses quality decoys, like the custom fakes made by Dave Smith Decoys, positioned so that the turkey only sees them on his final approach. “My calling pulls him in. The decoys are just there to bring him into easy range,” he says.
Vanderpool then walks off 20 to 30 yards from the setup and calls. “I start by walking a circle around my setup, mixing up the calling between box, mouth, and pot calls. If I don’t fire up a gobbler on the first circuit, I walk out a bit farther and circle again. And I just keep doing that—running a little wider and wider—until I finally strike a bird.”
Once he has a gobbler’s attention, Vanderpool amps up the calling until he’s got the tom convinced that the only place he needs to be is right with the birds he hears. “It can take some aggressive calling. But the beauty of this system is that you’re walking, so you sound like a bird on the move. And if you use several calls, it’s like there’s a turkey party going on that the gobbler just has to check out. I try to work the bird into a frenzy until I know he’s committed. Then I scoot back to the blind.”
Vanderpool then adjusts his calling to match the bird’s mood. “Usually I just coax him on in with soft calling or silence,” he says. “I want him to come in looking. The decoys serve as the closer.”
Illustration by The Voorhes