Imagine a seasoned turkey hunter set up on a gobbling tom in the roost. All of a sudden, here comes “Uncle George” marching down the hill blowing an owl hooter that sounds like a mallard hen. Frustration sets in as the tom bolts from his roost and coasts to the next county. No fault on George-we’ve all been there. I used to run around and blow the feathers off of toms with the same call. Through trial and error it became apparent I needed to master the barred owl call. Learning when and how to use it was the key.
Toms will start gobbling when song birds start up in the mornings. Many times, the first thing they answer is a barred owl. This is ideally the best time to mimic that sound.
Note: Locator calls help give away a tom’s presence without him knowing you are there. Try to avoid using hen calls until you are set up. That way the tom isn’t looking for the sound while you are getting in position.
Owl hooters will work in the evening also. My favorite time to call is after they fly up. Roosted toms often respond after sitting comfortably on the limb for several minutes. Listening and waiting for this time to call is important. If he fires off while you’re listening-no need to pull out the call. He’s given away his position and now you know where to be in the morning.
Long time friend and caller James Harrison is an owl hooting expert. Harrison has won the NWTF Grand National Owl Hooting contest twice along with countless other victories. He is an accomplished custom call maker, champion turkey caller, and seasoned hunter.
“There are some simple steps to start running an owl hooter,” Harrison says, “first grab the bottom of the call and cup both hands around it. Say the words-who cooks for you, who cooks for you all-into the call. That is the basic 8 note call of the barred owl. It’s important to find the right amount of air pressure to operate the call. Practice makes perfect and it will take plenty of it!”
To see Harrison run an owl hooter, click on the link below. He demonstrates how to make different sounds of the barred owl.