Editor's Note: Phillip Vanderpool from Harrison, Arkansas, a member of Hunter's Specialties' Pro Staff, is an accomplished bowhunter, having taken three Boone and Crockett bucks, as well as several Pope and Young whitetails and numerous turkeys.
When we arrived in Sayre, Oklahoma, west of Elk City, to hunt Rio Grande turkeys with Todd Rogers on 3,500 acres, we found a number of creek and river bottoms with rolling red hills. There are plenty of ways to hunt turkeys in the rain, but one of my favorites is to hunt them from a blind. Turkeys love openings, like fields in the rain. If you set up your blind, put out decoys and be patient, many times the turkeys will show up. I prefer to set up my blind where there's a bottleneck between two fields. This way, regardless of which field the turkeys fly down to, they'll have a clean area they can reach. When I'm set up in a blind like that, I call very sparingly, about every 10 minutes.
Don't set up blindly on a field. I like to scout a field and see where the turkeys like to go. When I locate scratchings and droppings in a field, I'm confident before I hunt that turkeys will come into that field. Many times I won't hunt a field whether it's raining or not. But on rainy days, turkeys will move to openings. So, if you get in the field before daylight and set up your blind, you can hunt comfortably all day, even in the pouring rain. The turkeys will come to the field because they can't hear or see as well when rain's falling as they can when they're out in a field. A turkey walking through open woods in a downpour is an invitation to dinner for a predator, but in the field, the turkeys can see the predators coming.
The new blind from Hunter Specialties, the Boiler Room Ground Blind, is an improvement over past blinds. It's ideal for hunting turkeys or deer from the edge of a field. I prefer the Boiler Room blind because you can fit three people in the blind comfortably. Generally heavy rain also means windy weather. The Boiler Room blind will keep you dry and warm when you're hunting in the rain. It's 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. Too, the windows have camouflage netting you can see through without the turkeys spotting you. You either can raise the netting up and shoot through the open windows or leave the netting down and shoot through the netting. Because the netting is Velcroed and attached to the windows, it's really easy to replace. I don't shoot a shotgun through the netting, but when I'm bowhunting for deer, I don't hesitate to shoot a bow through the netting.
One mistake many people make when they hunt from a blind, like the Boiler Room one, 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 what you need to do to get the shot. Also, I'll rest my gun barrel on the window of the blind when the turkeys are coming toward the blind. This way, the gun and I are both in position to take the shot. When the turkeys come into range where I want to take them, I just raise the barrel and aim.
The members of the Hunter Specialties' Pro Staff travel all over the country and hunt in all types of weather. If you hunt turkeys in the spring and spend a lot of days in the field, you'll have days when the rain's pouring down. In this situation, you have two choices: stay in the camp and not hunt, or move to the places where the turkeys will be (the fields and the openings), put out decoys, call to turkeys and have some really good chances 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 on the hunt. Each day you hunt, your 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 camp, dodging the rain. So, I always carry a Boiler Room Ground Blind with me whenever I hunt.
On this hunt, we saw 30 or 40 turkeys. We had two longbeards come in, but the majority of the turkeys we saw were jakes. Every time the longbeards came in close to the decoys, the jakes would run them off and not let the longbeards come into those hen decoys. We saw an awful lot of turkeys, including longbeards, but the jakes kept us from taking any of those longbeards. There were so many jakes in the spot we hunted this spring that next year you'll have to kick longbeards out of the way just to reach your blind there.
To hunt Rio Grande turkeys in Oklahoma, contact Todd Rogers at Route 4, Box 185-A, Sayre, Oklahoma 73662, or call (580) 799-1920, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Rogers offers a great Rio Grande turkey hunt, delicious food and excellent accommodations.