Locate that Bird!

Calling in a gobbler and harvesting one: the only two things better than locating one. There’s nothing quite like hitting the barred owl call (or crow, goose or peacock calls depending on your preference) before the first crack of sunlight to hear it met with a thundering gobble from across the woods. Adventure initiate.

When it comes to locating a bird, there are a few tactics and methods to consider. Before you start yelping and clucking with your turkey calls, it is a good idea to locate your bird first. Locating the gobbler you’re chasing allows you to gauge distance and direction, and is an overall a great way to devise a game plan as the hunt unfolds.

We asked Travis Sumner, NWTF Hunting Heritage Center and habitat manger, for a few tips on locating birds.

“While most locator calls can elicit a shock gobble any time of day, there are various calls that have been shown to be very effective when used at a particular time of day,” Sumner said. “Owl calls are great for the early morning and the late evening. Crow calls are great for all day. Woodpecker calls are good for chasing midday gobblers. Hawk calls can be particularly useful in the midmorning throughout the afternoon, and coyote calls work well late in the evening when trying to roost a bird.”

When it comes to the best sequences to use when using a locator call, Sumner explains that you are not trying to call in a woodpecker or an owl; you’re trying to locate a turkey.

“Your calling sequence should be short,” he said. “It can be a different sequence of calling for each one you are trying to imitate. For instance, crows can be a three- to four-note call — caaaw caw caw caw. Owls can be one long note — whooooo, or ‘Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.’ Short, but loud, bursts are what you’re aiming for. You are only trying to get a turkey to shock gobble.”

If you’re new to using locator calls, before jumping into the woods and trying to use one, spend time listening to the wildlife and note their distinct calls and sounds. Get a good sense of the rhythm and cadences wildlife use and learn to do that loud and in short bursts. 

For more information on using a locator call visit:


For more turkey sounds, visit:


For what to do after you locate a bird, visit:


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