Turkeys are tough birds to hunt. Their eyesight and hearing are both excellent examples of the old saying, “The best offense is a good defense.” These birds are so tough to kill because they are hard to get close to before they see or hear the hunter coming. We have to be 10 times closer to see them than it takes for them to see us.
One of the most crucial aspects of bagging a turkey is locating one before they know where we are.
This allows us to get into position in a spot where we are well concealed and can then call the birds into us.
However, if we hen call to the toms before we are in position there is a chance they may go wandering to find the hen (which is us calling). This is not what we want because if they see or hear us while we’re moving the jig is up.
So, when we first arrive in the woods we want to use a locator call. Turkeys, especially in the Spring when they are close to or in mating season, have a habit of gobbling loudly at other loud noises they hear. This is known as a Shock Gobble. A loud noise rings out through the woods and the male turkey instinctively gobbles back.
Some hunters swear that shutting the car door or the lock sound from their car alarm can elicit gobbles. I have even found that the sound of my shotgun going off when I kill one turkey can elicit shock gobbles from other turkeys still in the woods.
Generally, I like to use something a bit more conventional such as a crow call for my locator. The benefit of a Crow sound is that crows are found pretty much everywhere that turkeys are and they are vocal throughout the day. This makes the crow a natural tone that doesn’t sound out of place.
When you get to the woods, letting off a couple of locator crow calls will oftentimes elicit loud gobbles. In addition to getting goosebumps and thinking ‘this is what turkey hunting is all about’, it gives you an idea of where the turkey is.
You can then quietly move into position and set up in your blind or behind a stump or wherever you are well hidden. Then the hen calls come out and with any luck that lovestruck tom will waddle into your setup looking for one lucky lady. Next thing he knows he’s the special guest for your family’s thanksgiving dinner.
Bonus tip: Locator calls can be especially useful before sunrise when the turkeys are still on the roost (up in a tree where they sleep). With the turkey roosted you have an excellent chance of sneaking in and setting up 100-200yds away without disturbing him off his roost early. Just don’t get too close or he will leave the roost and head for the hills. Once set up, you begin your calling sequence and if you are lucky, your blind may-be his first stop when he flies down at sunrise.