Locating Turkeys | Turkey Locator Calls
During the spring, a gobbler almost can’t help but answer to certain types of sounds. For a turkey hunter, this is what makes spring such a magical time. Unlike deer hunting, turkey hunters rely on the sound of a gobbler to make our move and that all starts with getting a bird to gobble in the first place. This is the exact reason to carry a variety of locator calls in your turkey vest.
Why Do Turkey Locator Calls Work?
It’s pretty simple, during the spring male turkeys are so amped up for breeding rights that they’ll shock gobble at just about any loud noise. Obviously, this type of reactionary behavior from longbeards puts them at a severe disadvantage and often results in them flopping 20 yards down range of your gun barrel. The shock gobbling nature of Toms during this time of year is precisely why you should be carrying a variety of locator calls alongside your trusty slate, box, and mouth calls. Hands down, the most common two types of locator calls a turkey hunter should be armed with are an owl hoot and a crow call.
When to Use Locator Calls
Knowing when to use what call is often as simple as knowing whether the birds are on the roost or on the ground. Putting birds to bed or locating them on the roost before daylight is as deadly of a tactic as any. Nothing is better than knowing exactly where an old Tom is roosted the night before a hunt so you can sneak in tight and greet him with a load of Hornady Heavy Magnum Turkey from the trusty Remington.
Owl Hoot Calls
When you’re looking to spark a gobble off the roost, nothing works better than the trusty Ol’ Razzy owl hoot call. Firing off the hoot of a barred owl across a holler will send chills down ol’ Mr. Longbeard’s spine and he can’t help but send off a thunderous gobble. Whamo! You’ve got him pinpointed, now it’s just a matter of closing the deal in daylight under his terms.
While the owl hoot is a go-to call for locating birds on the roost, sometimes the terrain or weather will dictate using a louder call to shock a Tom into gobbling on the roost. If this is the case, sounding off a loud coyote call will often do the trick. The louder pitch of a coyote howl will cut through the wind better and travel a further distance than an owl hoot, which just might get a long-spurred bird to reveal his limb location.
Relying on the Ol’ Razzy owl hoot is your best bet for locating birds on the roost, but what about when you’re trying to locate a bird after sun up? If you’re running and gunning and the birds have gone silent shortly after fly down, try busting out The Detector crow call to spark up some mid-morning magic. Blasting a crow call off is a tried and true way to entice a shock gobble from an otherwise silent longbeard. From there, it’s just a matter of sneaking in and closing the deal with the right turkey calls and decoy setup.
If the crow call isn’t doing the trick, try busting out your box call and doing a series of loud cuts. Oftentimes pressured birds won’t react to the crow call because they’ve heard them all season long and the ones that fell for that trick are already in the smoker. This is when the design and pitch of the Death Valley Box Call really shine through. It produces high pitched loud yelps and clucks, perfect for cutting through the hills and hollers to reach that stubborn hen’d up longbeard.
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Posted by Michael Waddell's Bone Collector on Monday, March 18, 2019
Once You Locate a Gobbler
Getting a Tom to gobble once is one thing, now how do you keep him gobbling and make him commit after his initial response to your locator call? If you’re dealing with a stubborn call shy bird (which is often the case with older birds) you’ll likely have to burst his bubble. By this, we mean you’ll have to get in close while remaining undetected. Unlike many two-year-old birds which you can typically call in from a long ways off, older birds are often much too wise for this ploy.
Once you get a reactionary gobble response from a locator call, mark his location and move in quick. Try to understand which way the bird is headed or where he’s holed up and cut him off. In order to keep him gobbling and make him commit you’ll likely need to set up within 100 yards of him. Be sure to keep quiet and remain stealthy as you sneak in close and DON’T call again until you are set up. Once you’re in position, it’s time to employ a series of soft yelps with your pot call or diaphragm. It shouldn’t be long before you’re shaking with adrenaline at the sound of him spitting and drumming. If he doesn’t spark up immediately, just sit tight as he may be coming in silently to assess the source of the hen yelps he’s been hearing.
As is the case with all hunting, every scenario is different. The amount of hunting pressure, number of birds, type of terrain, and time of year, and region you hunt will all factor into how the birds are responding. In any given scenario one call might be more effective than the next, which is why it’s a smart idea to be prepared with a full arsenal.