Turkey Hunting Tips and Tactics | Turkey Locator Calls
The time is here. Dark silhouettes on branches, thick foggy air, and the first sunlight sparkling on the dew. For some the number one time of year has come, spring turkey hunting! Chasing spring turkeys is an amazing experience that everyone should try at some point in their life. “For me it’s just something special about the spring time of the year… I heard a lot of people say, that really, turkey hunting is like a disease…” – Michael Waddell
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There are many aspects to spring turkey hunting that makes it a very special time. From the budding plants to strutting gobblers, we all have a vision of what spring turkey hunting is to us. If you were to ask, what the one thing that spring turkey hunters look forward to each and every year, aside from squeezing the trigger on the Beretta, they would likely tell you it is hearing the sound of that ole’ long beard spitting, drumming, and gobbling. While the sound of spring gobbler sounding off at daylight is a magical thing, it can also be a turkey hunter’s biggest advantage when it comes to making that perfect set up.
One of the greatest advantages that you as a hunter can have at your disposal is a good selection of locator calls. Locater calls are often underrated in terms of their importance but have aided turkey hunters in introducing that weary long beard to a Heavy Magnum Turkey load on many occasions.
A locator or shock gobble call is exactly what it sounds like as the name implies is a call that shocks or elicits a response from a gobbler. During the spring, a gobbler almost can’t help but answer to certain types of sounds. A gobbler’s response to a locator call can almost be compared to a doctor thumping your knee to test your reflexes. In some cases all it takes is a sudden loud burst of nose during the still moments of the early morning to jerk a response out of a gobbler. Everything from the door slamming shut on your Chevy to a clap of thunder, when occurring at the right moment, can make a turkey gobble during this time of year. There are some specific sounds that are very effective in eliciting a response from a long beard, and are very easy to use.
The true utility of a locator call in regards to turkey hunting is simply to provide the hunter an option to hopefully be able to locate a gobbler either on the limb, or after he has pitched down. In many cases, some locator calls work better right off the limb while others work better after the gobbler has pitched down. Both have helped many turkeys meet their demise.
What is Available?
Much like waterfowl hunters, turkey hunters tend to be crazy about calls. If you identify with this trait, then you might consider increasing your call inventory and picking up a couple more locator calls this season. There are a wide range of locator calls on the market today, many which are very effective in the right situation. Hands down the most commonly used, and many would argue the most versatile locator call would be the barred owl. The natural enemy of the wild turkey, the barred owl call has been a mainstay among turkey hunters for years mainly due to its overall effectiveness and the fact that it usable almost everywhere. There are two main types of owl calls, a barreled and a reed. While the reed call allows you to have more volume and an extremely realistic cadence the trade-off is that it can be somewhat challenging to truly master although with a little practice and persistence you can master it in no time. The barrel style call on the other hand is typically cheaper and most find it easier to use then the reed style call. Consisting of a simple flute that is placed in an open chamber, the barrel owl call is a great choice for a beginner. Both calls are effective at making an old gobbler cut loose and shock gobble.
Turkey Hunting Locator Calls
(Video) Locate turkeys with the sounds of other birds, such as owls and crows. Locator calls elicit a shock gobble from excitable adult toms during the spring breeding season.
These types of locator calls can be effective up into the mid-morning hours however, are extremely effective first thing in the morning, when trying to locate a gobbler on the roost, as well as when roosting birds in the evening. Owl calls are generally not as effective during the middle part of the day.
Probably the second most popular locator call and one that is very effective during the midday hours is the crow call. During the late morning, and throughout the day a crow call can be an effective way to have to locate an otherwise stubborn gobbler. Crow calls are an effective locator call selection when you are dealing with a hen’d up gobbler that will not seem to answer otherwise, and is a call that every turkey hunter should have in their vest. Crow calls are very inexpensive and can take some practice to use properly; however, these calls are deadly when trying to put a gobbler in the back of the Chevy.
Hands down owl calls and crow calls are the two most common and most popular locator calls used by turkey hunters each and every year. While they are very effective, there are still some other options for turkey hunters that want to have every option at their disposal. If you fall into this group of turkey hunters, here are a couple other options that you might want to consider this spring.
The coyote howl has been known to make a turkey gobble on occasion, and while it can be very effective in some areas and less effective in others is still a great locator call option to carry in your vest. Coyote howlers are great options to use when putting a bird to roost in the evening, but have been known to strike a gobble during the middle part of the day as well. While they are effective in shocking a gobble out of a turkey, they can be somewhat difficult to use and do take some practice. While it’s rare, they have been known to call in a coyote from time to time that is something that could quickly ruin your day, especially if you are working a gobbler.
The pileated woodpecker is another call that is very effective at soliciting a gobbler from a rather quite turkey. Its high pitched tone can reach out a long ways which can be very beneficial for a turkey hunter. Rather inexpensive and easy to use, this call is a great choice for the run and gun style turkey hunter.
There are many different ways of locating a turkey and some may choose not even employ the use of locator calls. It really is all about what works best for you and what is best suited to the area you hunt. Understanding what works best for the areas you hunt and recognizing that what is most effective in one area may not be in another is a valuable lesson when it comes to effectively using locator calls. While owl and crow calls are the most popular, a locator call really can be almost anything. In fact, turkeys in certain geographic areas tend to gobble more at various noises or calls than in other areas. In some areas, the turkeys may shock gobble to a goose honk, whereas in other areas they may answer to a coyote howling. Whatever the case, the important thing is that you determine the call that works best for your area and have it on hand at all times and have it factor into your strategy.
There is nothing more frustrating than being in a situation where the turkey you are chasing has decided to go quite, especially if you are hunting new territory and are unfamiliar with the surroundings and the pattern of the turkeys. Employing the use of locator calls can greatly improve your chances of success this spring. Remember that locating a turkey isn’t always as easy at noon as it is at 6:30 in the morning is the first step in being successful, being persistent is the second. Do not be afraid to continue to change from locator call to locator call until you find the magic combination that works. Sometimes all it takes is to “out-stubborn” that stubborn long beard!