photo of mourning doves

MOST HUNTERS know an owl hoot can make a tom gobble from the roost, but locator calls can do much more, from making midday birds talk to keeping a hot tom at bay long enough for you to set up. Here’s how to get the most out of yours.

[1] IGNORE THE CLOCK Toms will shock gobble in response to loud noises at any time of day, making locator calls a perfect tool for keeping track of a gobbler even when the sun is high.

[2] SPARE THE YELP It’s tempting to start your hunt by yelping at a tom to make him gobble, but sometimes turkey talk will hurt you more than it helps you. Yelping may cause the gobbler to come before you’re ready. Or the tom may simply shut up and strut when he hears a hen. Locator calls will reveal a gobbler’s position and allow you time to prepare.

[3] THROW A CHANGEUP Though a tom may roar at your first crow call, repeating the sound can be less productive. Carry several locator calls in case he stops responding to the original. Also, if a gobbler gets lockjaw after heading toward your first hen yelps, a locator call can loosen his vocal chords. I was once ready to give up on a tom that had gone mum. With nothing else to do, I owl-hooted. The bird roared back from 70 yards, which kept me in position long enough to put a tag on his leg.


IF YOU WANT gobblers to waltz in to your decoys, your setup needs to present a peaceful illusion. Hen decoys with upright heads can convey alarm or unrest, especially if several heads are all facing in the same direction. Head-down, feeding hens, on the other hand, tend to impart a sense of security and calm, whether you’ve put out one decoy or several.

Take advantage of a gobbler’s vanity, too, when you’re positioning your fakes. A revved-up tom will often go where the “hen” or “hens” can best see him strut. Place your dekes facing or quartering toward you. This is apt to draw the gobbler into closer range for a clean kill.