Sunday evening, Eric went scouting for turkeys, and Toby and I joined him. The process of locating turkeys in the evening when the birds head up into the trees to roost is known in turkey-hunter parlance as “putting the birds to bed.” It’s a bit of a misnomer, as the hunter isn’t so much lulling the birds to sleep as he is using his owl call to wake up the birds from their peaceful reveries. Since owls prey on turkeys, the sound of an owl’s hoot–whether natural or man-made using a call–startles the birds, causing them to gobble, much like a person starts with a grunt or a groan or a moan or a yelp upon being woken from a doze or deep sleep. The gobble alerts the hunter to the turkey’s resting place. The hunter now knows where to lie in wait when he goes to hunt the bird early the next morning.
I recorded the sounds of Eric’s scouting expedition, which you can hear by clicking the link below. You’ll first hear Eric’s box call, which is a small wooden, rectangular-shaped instrument designed to mimic the sound of a clucking hen and which hunters use to lure in horny Tom’s before they blow the bird’s brain out. (You’ve got to aim for the head, otherwise the shotgun pellets rip up all that tasty meat or you don’t kill the bird “humanely.”) You’ll also hear a gurgling spring creek and Toby’s heavy breathing and jangling dog tags. The owl call comes near the end of the minute-long recording.