Not only is there an animal out there that will spot your deer for you, but this animal will also vocalize to you telling you exactly where the deer are and when they are moving.
“Too good to be true,” you may think, but after years of careful observation of owls and their fondness for hooting at deer, this tactic has resulted in my seeing many deer.
A few older guys told me of this when I was a young deer hunter, but I was skeptical at first. Now, after countless times of seeing it with my own eyes I am now a firm believer.
Just this year I verified this tactic.
While walking in the woods of Red River WMA in the morning darkness on my over one-mile journey to my hunting location, I jumped deer on three separate times when, after hearing the deer take off and blow at me, I’d soon hear owls hooting in the same direction they just took off from.
On this nearly one-hour-long walk through the silent woods of night, it was the only time any owls had made a sound.
I do notice they tend to vocalize more at deer when it is dark and they get spooked by an animal moving though, but I’ve also had it happen in daylight many times. Sometimes I’d hear owls, and then minutes later have deer approaching from that area. Vice versa sometimes deer would walk near my stand, and then I’d hear owls in the direction they walked off toward.
Of course this isn’t always the case, as I’m sure owls have many reasons to hoot throughout the day. But if hearing owls gives you an added bit of confidence to sit longer in the stand and you harvest an animal because of those extra hours, you can credit this tactic. Any reason to spend more time in the woods is a bonus after making a long hunt.
Also, if an owl hoots at a deer moving and it’s not near you it may not matter because many deer move at similar times, so there could be an increased chance that another deer may be walking into the danger zone.
I also use this tactic when stalking. If I hear owls, I’ll stalk toward that direction and quickly find a feeding location nearby and stay put a while with hopes that the deer will be moving.
If I heard owls hooting while in the stand, a few hours later I will go stalk bedding areas in the direction where I heard the hooting. Many times I have seen deer while stalking due to the owls.
The owls will hoot out at hogs, as well. On a bow-hunting stalk through Red River WMA this year, I jumped up a pack of five medium-sized spotted hogs. I trailed them going north along the thick ridge that I thought they ran along, but after 300 yards and seeing nothing I heard owls from a completely different direction to the east near a water hole I knew of.
Sure enough, in a thicket near the waterhole about 600 yards away, I saw the five spotted hogs again. Though I was unsuccessful in getting close enough for the shot in bow range I would’ve never gone looking near that far-away water hole if it hadn’t been for those owls.
On a side note, using fake owls calls to signal a friend your location when hunting is never a good idea. My friends and I used to do this tactic instead of whistling because we thought a natural sound would spook fewer game than a whistle. Unfortunately, when a real owl hooted near the end of an afternoon hog hunt and a buddy of mine walked toward the noise thinking it was me, he got lost.
Being it happened in boar territory without having a GPS in an unknown neck of the woods was frightening to him. Even more so since we both had heard some major snorting and squealing going on from big hogs fighting in the field we were hunting near.
Eventually I found my buddy and we had a good laugh.
So next time you’re in the woods take notice of any hooting going on, and it will most likely make for more productive deer hunts.