Things a turkey hunter ought to know about barred owls

Turkey hunters should have some appreciation for the barred owl, also known as the hoot owl.

That is the owl who helps us locate that gobbler early every morning during turkey season.

If you sound off with a barred owl hoot just before daybreak, chances are you might get a gobbler to respond so that you can more easily locate him, saving yourself from having to hump those ridges all morning with nothing to show for it.

We turkey hunters really are indebted to the barred owl for making our hunting easier.

Yes, I know gobblers sometimes respond to the darnedest things — a crow, a car door slam, or a clap of thunder.

I have even heard them gobble back at a shotgun blast, believe it or not.

But one of the most reliable ways to locate a gobbler is to perfect the sound of a barred owl.

If you are a turkey hunter, you already know the sound of a barred owl; it is that patented, “Who cooks for you; who cooks for you all.”  

Or upon occasion, he will cut loose with a “Hooo-rah,” also known as the “inspection call.”

The barred owl is an interesting animal, perhaps more interesting than most turkey hunters realize.

The name “barred owl” derives from the fact that this particular species of owl has a series of “barred” feathers, brown and white, around his upper neck.

Below the barred feathers, he has a series of vertical brown and white feathers on his chest. 

His face is heart-shaped, somewhat concave and usually grey or white, with dark brown or black eyes unlike other owl species in the United States.

Frankly, he is a beautiful bird.  

Despite his beauty, he is exceedingly shy and usually flies away at the slightest provocation so if you see one in the wild, consider yourself lucky.

The adult barred owl is generally between 16 and 25 inches tall, with a wing span between 38 and 50 inches.   

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They are nocturnal hunters and generally hunt by sitting on a perch, waiting for prey to show up below them.  

They eat a variety of small animals, including mice, chipmunks, small reptiles and upon occasion, even fish.

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