It's funny y'all bring up this subject, because I was getting less and less enamored with locator calls. I'm not going to say they're useless. I am just beginning to rethink my reliance on them. This year I used a locator call a total of . . . (think, think, ponder, ponder) . . . once. It was a week or so before season started, and I was trying to figure out what had happened to a missing flock that I just KNEW was there. I owled a few times, and then sat down in frustration and waited for the light to come up. Well after sun rise, the gobbler went off about 80 yards from where I was sitting.
There was a conversation on here earlier in the year about crows and their animosity towards turkeys. It got me to thinking about a sort of reverse-tactic to locator calls for turkeys. It is surprising, now that I'm out looking for it at how often I see turkeys or hear turkeys immediately after crows sound off in that general direction. It's also odd how often I get crows flying over just after making a run of yelps. This is worth more investigation: can you use crows as an indicator of turkeys?
This year I decided to hold back on the locator calls and just listen. There is enough in the environment to get most gobblers worked up-- owls, crows, hawks, woodpeckers, agricultural equipment-- my neighbor even has roosters and dogs. I just waited and didn't force things this year. I was surprised at:
1) How little my gobs were gobbling overall. I was out 13 of 23 days, and I tagged out day 18. I can honestly say there were 5 days of good gobbling from the roost all season. The rest of the days were marred with rain, wind, a combination of the two or . . .well, who knows?
2) How little the natural locators got them cranked up. If a barred owl 50 yards away won't get them going, why should I be trying?
3) How easy it was to wait an extra bit and just listen.
Now I'm not ready to make major pronouncements, but it did give me food for thought. Next year, the big 2008 cohort will have grown to mature gobblers, and this crew may gobble at just an impure thought. Who knows.
What this all tells me is how variable the suceptibility of gobblers to locator calls really is. It also makes me wonder how many silent gobblers are out there that we may be stepping over.