What is the Best Locator Call for Turkeys?
The best call is one that works!
Knowing how to find turkeys will reduce your frustration when you can’t hear turkeys calling. Locator calls are used to elicit a response from a gobbler. Once you receive a response the locator call should be packed away in the vest.
Birds roost in the evening and nighttime for safety. Figuring out a flock’s movement during the day and where they roost can be very beneficial to determining where you should set up your blind or just hunker down first thing in the morning.
But, not knowing where the birds are first thing in the morning can make for a long day. Using a locator call before sun-up can help you determine if birds are roosting in your immediate area.
There is no better method of finding and knowing where birds roost than scouting before the season. But not every hunter has the opportunity to hunt where they live. Using topographic maps, aerial maps, and hunt apps like onX Hunts can help you pre-scout your hunting area.
Once you put boots on the ground, you need to start looking for signs. Tracks in the mud from recent rain, and transition areas between hardwoods and ridges all can be good indicators that there are turkeys in the area.
When all else fails, the turkey locator call will help you get a quick response so you can get set up for the morning hunt.
The Shaggy Outdoors Team has put together our Top 5 favorite turkey locator calls. All these calls will work, but turkeys will not respond if they are not in the immediate area. Do your homework, then the first call you should use is your locator call.
Which Locator Call Should I Use and When?
Before you decide which locator call to purchase, knowing which call is best, when, and why will help you decide.
To begin, we know that turkeys roost at night and they migrate during the day. But knowing when to use a call is important.
Crow Calls - A crow locator call can be used throughout the day. You can use it before the sun is up or when hunting slows down during the day. Crows are everywhere and they talk throughout the day. Know that you can use this call any time of the day.
The great thing about buying a crow call is you know just about any part of the United States that you are hunting in will have crows. Not every region will have crows sounding the same, so do some research and listen to the crows in the area.
When using a crow call - blow hard. You want to excite the gobbler and get a "shock gobble". The "shock gobble" comes from the gobbler being scared. In general, the male turkeys are always on guard and this sudden noise will excite them and get you a response.
Owl Calls - An owl call is good for first thing in the morning or in the evening to locate a roosting bird. Knowing owls are nighttime feeders, you should know that using an owl call during the day will not be successful.
When blowing on your owl call, remember that typical owls are low tones that travel in the woods. Don't try to blow hard to get a response from a gobbler a mile away. Call a few times to elicit a response and then stop. Use that information for your morning set-up.
An owl call can be beneficial first thing in the morning. Before the birds come down off their roost, give an owl call to get a reaction.
Woodpecker Calls - A woodpecker is working all day long. What throws off a gobbler is their quick pecking of the tree. This quiet and then loud sound will get a response from a gobbler.
Use a woodpecker or other daytime bird calls, like a duck call any time during the day. These animals are found flying and working throughout the day. They will not scare off a gobbler unless you call too often.
Pro-Tip - If you are hunting public land and mountain areas, use your truck door to get a "shock gobble". The sudden slamming of the door will get a response from a gobbler in the area.
5 Locator Calls that Get the Shock Gobble Every Time!
MeatEater X Phelps Crow Call by Phelps Game Calls
MeatEater joined forces with Phelps a couple of years ago to expand on the MeatEater brand and join forces with some of the best custom turkey call makers across the country. The benefits to hunters are we get new and innovative products from a quality brand.
Looking for shock-gobbles from those gobblers. The crow call gives you consistent calls and loud sounds. The construction is an acrylic body with tone boards.
Power Crow by Primos
Primos is a premier call manufacturer that makes excellent mouth calls and friction calls. The Power Crow is a great call for locating turkey or using it when you are hunting crows. The Power Crow is the "Loudest" crow call on the market.
Strut Limb Shaker Owl Hooter by Hunter Specialties
The Hunter Specialties brand has several turkey calls on the market. Check out their Amazon webpage by clicking here. Use the Strut Owl Shaker Reed Owl Hooter and call turkeys any time of the day. The call can be used softly if you know there are close turkeys, but also loud to push the limbs a mile away.
Ninja Owl Turkey Locator by Woodhaven Custom Calls
The spring hunting season is a great time to pull out the Ninja Owl Call. The "Ninja Owl" was designed by Grand National and Us Open Owl Hooting Champion, Scott Ellis. Get your high-pitched screams and 8-note owl hooting sequence.
Woodpecker Turkey Call by ESH
ESH Locator Calls come in crow, owl, and woodpecker. The pure owl hoot turkey call gets responses from gobblers. This call is made of premium quality and made in the USA from real maple wood. The ESH Pileated Woodpecker Call is designed to deliver those tough sounds that turkeys love, no matter where your woods are. ESH offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, not happy, return it anytime.
Why Every Hunter Should Use a Locator Call
If you're not sure when you should use a locator call you will like the is section. We use the locator call in various situations.
As both farm turkey hunters in Michigan and run-and-gunner hunters in Arizona, we use the locator call for different situations.
The owl call or crow call works excellent when hunting on the farm in Michigan. We do our pre-hunt scouting and know the tendencies of the turkeys on the farm. We know approximately where they roost at night and we know their feeding and travel patterns. But, you never know when things change.
The owl hooter works in the evening and early, pre-dawn time to verify the location of the gobblers. Hitting the owl will get a response and therefore we know where the birds are roosting for the night.
During the day we use the crow call to see if there are birds in the area. The flock of turkeys on our farm spends time on the three neighboring farms at any given time. If we hit the crow call and there is no response, we know the birds are currently on the neighbor's property but will be back at the end of the day to roost.
In Arizona, we use three different calls. The call nobody thinks about is the truck door. Yes, we close the truck door hard and use it as a locator. If we get a response we know there are turkeys in the area.
When hunting public land it can be difficult to scout and know where turkeys are roaming. With our experience of hunting in certain units, we know turkeys are generally in those areas. But using the truck door can scare those roosting gobblers into a "shock gobble".
The second or third call we will use in Arizona is the crow and owl. Crows are typically in every county in the US. However, in some mountain areas, there are no crows. We have used our owl hooter when we know there are no crows around with success.
Final Thoughts on Locator Calls
The truth is every turkey hunter needs to have a locator call or two in their vest. Crow is an excellent first choice given there are crows all across the United States. The second call can be your choice, if you know there are owls use a hooter, if you are looking for reactions during the day pick up a woodpecker.
The locator call is one of the most overlooked calls on the market. The problem is many new hunters don't understand why or how to use the call. You use the call to locate and then put it away.
Put one or two locator calls in your vest and give them a try next time you are out scouting. The best time to practice any call is during your scouting period.
Locator calls are good for both spring hunts and fall hunts. The spring hunt is when the birds are breeding and gobblers are hot and heavy to find any hens ready to breed.
The Shaggy Outdoors Team has put together a couple of other blog posts that may help our turkey-hunting friends. Check out these articles to get a better understanding and help for your next turkey hunt.