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Owl Calls

It's a simple turkey-hunting strategy: Hoot like an owl and hope a tom hollers back. Some old-timers think turkeys are gobbling back to tell those pesky owls which tree they have reserved for the night. Others say the excitement of the mating season has them all fired up, and an owl's shocking shrill simply strikes a chord that forces them gobble. Whatever the reason, an owl call can tell you exactly where to set up for the hunt.

Reed-Style Thrills

Many experienced turkey hunters know the thrill of locating a gobbler with the hoots, laughs, rolls and chuckles of a barred owl call. There many highly-effective owl calls options out there, the most common option is a reed-type call. These calls are made of:

  1. A barrel (the end where you blow)

  2. An insert (which holds the reeds)

  3. An exhaust baffle (the stopper end), which creates the echoing notes of the owl's throaty sound

Each call company has its own unique design. There are several distinctions that set one manufactured call apart from another:

  • Construction and materials; some calls are crafted from beautiful hardwood, durable hard polymer, or soft and flexible rubber-like plastic

  • Different reed systems; certain owl calls feature raspier-sounding reeds

  • Various styles of mouth pieces, baffles and other design elements to achieve greater long-range volume

  • Diverse measurements for overall width, length and dimensions of the barrel; calls that are smaller and more compact usually require the operator to cup their hands around the baffle to control and produce realistic sounds

  • Several high-end owl calls are made of exotic woods with laser engraving and other eye-catching designs to attract buyers

Like any game call, some owl calls are easier to operate then others. And, certain calls might sound better than others — it's all a matter of personal opinion. So, you'll need to experiment with several brands and designs of reed-style owl calls to find one you like.

Flute-Style Hooters

In 1978, Niles Oesterle from Bennington, Vt. crafted the first wooden owl call that was marketed for turkey hunting. To acquire the proper dimensions for this flute-style call, Niles used a water-filled cylinder to arrive at the barred owl's pitch. Measurements were taken and used to craft a wooden tube, which was then carefully tuned to produce the rhythmic notes of an owl.

Oesterle affectionately named his creation using a popular nickname for the barred owl: Eight-Hooter. This nickname was derived from the eight notes heard by the barred owl's common sound that follows the cadence: "who-cooks-for-you-who-cooks-for-you-all." Oesterle now lives in Missouri where he still makes and sells his original owl calls. His beautiful flute-style calls are made of silver maple and include a leather lanyard. Learn more at

— J.J. Reich




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