Hunter, conservationist, videographer, host of “Dominator 365” television
For Arkansas native Phillip Vanderpool, developing a love for wildlife and hunting came naturally. He honed his skills in the woods and transformed his lifelong passion into a career in the outdoor industry.
Becoming a hunter
A family member introduced Vanderpool to hunting and the outdoors. His father knew the best gift he could give his son was respect for nature. Vanderpool and his father combed the backwoods of Arkansas every squirrel season. At the time, the young hunter packed a single-shot .22 rifle his great grandfather had given him. Vanderpool learned how to shoot straight and developed the woodsmanship skills needed to become an accomplished deer and turkey hunter.
“I wouldn’t trade my childhood in Arkansas and exposure to hunting for anything in the world,” Vanderpool said. “My personal experiences in the outdoors undoubtedly made me the man you see today. I proudly call myself a hunter and conservationist. It has brought me so much joy and allowed me to develop new friendships and stronger relationships with the people closest to my heart. The experiences, timeless memories and sacred bonds are what hunting is all about.”
Breaking into the industry
Hunting small game is how Vanderpool cut his teeth as a hunter, but his first encounters with white-tailed deer and wild turkeys changed him forever. Before long, he was buying bows and listening to turkey calling tapes by Ben Rogers Lee. Fired-up longbeards and top-heavy whitetails got in his blood.
One of Vanderpool’s first jobs was working with electronics at Curtis Mathis, where he was intrigued by video cameras and the possibility of capturing his hunts on video. This early fascination led to him meeting Steve Snow and Mitch Hagen in Leon, Iowa. These two whitetail legends were also trying to record their hunts and the trio decided to join forces. Eventually they released the “Pure Adrenalin” and “Pure Adrenalin II” deer hunting videos.
Vanderpool often volunteers to guide special hunters.
“I don’t even know if we broke even on those first videos, but the experience I gained was invaluable,” Vanderpool said. “It led to me taking a part-time pro staff job with Hunter’s Specialties where I had the opportunity to hunt and video legends like Stan Potts and Greg Miller. That job turned into a full-time national pro staff deal that took my career to a new level. I am still a national pro staff member for Hunter’s Specialties, but I recently jumped at the chance to become the face of the Dominator 365 company and host of the television show.”
Vanderpool has taken multiple Pope & Young bucks and three Boone & Crockett bruisers. He won the Arkansas Big Buck Classic Archery Division in 1990 and 1991. In 1994, he tagged the largest buck in his home state with a traditional recurve bow.
The NWTF and turkey hunting
As a teenager, Vanderpool tagged his first gobbler from a highly pressured tract of public land and he hasn’t slowed since. He has tagged more than 40 turkeys with his bow across the nation and introduced countless new hunters to the sport. He routinely volunteers to accompany kids and hunters with disabilities in the turkey woods.
“We are responsible for educating, preserving and protecting our hunting heritage,” Vanderpool said. “It’s not about monster antlers, extra-long spurs or thick beards. We need to be more focused on giving back and being involved. That is why I have maintained a close affiliation and friendship with organizations like the NWTF.” — Travis Faulkner