Locator calls for turkey hunting can come in many forms, but they're all designed to get a tom to shock gobble and give away his location. Some favorite locator calls include owl hoots, crow calls and loud, sharp turkey yelps.
Turkey locator calls are used to make male spring turkeys “shock gobble” on hearing a sound. This allows a turkey hunter to mark the exact location of a gobbler.
Traditional locator calls include the crow or barred owl. Duck, goose, coyote and even hawk calls work too, among others. Turkey calls are used to locate gobblers as well. Excited yelps and cutting often shock a tom into gobbling.
Gobblers often sound off on the roost as day breaks. If you haven’t heard one that morning, try owl hooting. If this doesn’t work, crow call if the timing seems right. Crow calls also work well during the day as you run-and-gun, prospecting for turkeys.
One school of thought is using non-turkey locator calls when birds are still on the roost. After fly-down, switch to turkey calls. Remember the idea is to fix a gobbler’s position so you can pick a setup spot and try to call the bird in.
Make turkey locator calls shorter than the full vocalization of real birds then listen for the gobble to follow. You risk drowning out a shock gobble otherwise. Have a buddy listen a short distance away too.
If you owl hoot or caw like a crow to locate a gobbler, the turkey obviously won’t come to these vocalizations. If you use turkey calls to locate gobblers, be ready for the bird to begin coming your way — unless it struts in that location or hangs up.
Turkey locator calls should be used sparingly. You can also simply listen in the turkey woods for real owls, crows and other natural sounds out there that make a turkey shock gobble. Once the bird sounds off, put those locator calls away. You’ve found one to hunt.
Make your setup. Call the turkey in. No luck? Use your locator calls to find another bird.
Steve Hickoff is Realtree's turkey hunting editor and blogger.
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Steve Hickoff is Realtree.com's editorial director and turkey hunting editor. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country.