It can be argued that most outdoorsmen and women have an ambivalent feeling towards crows. They are loud, obnoxious and irritating. Few things can upset a deer hunt more than a murder of crows right above your head screaming at each other for seemingly hours. Thankfully, there is a solution that is both effective and fun.
If you have never tried hunting crows, you are missing a treat. The excitement rivals that of a good duck hunt, and the techniques are similar — with a few exceptions. Plus, you don’t have to wade in ice-covered water to have a great hunt.
Dondi Rogers of Saluda has been chasing crows for a long time, and he said, “This is the most fun and frustrating wing-shooting I have ever done.”
If you do any online search of the most-intelligent animals, you will find crows is in every top-10 list. These birds are so intelligent, calling and decoying them is a real challenge.
To increase your odds, it helps to know where the crows are roosting and what their fly way is to have a lot of success.
“To kill the most birds, you need to set up along their flyway.” Rogers says. “Crows will roost in the same area and fly to a food source daily, feed a while and then return to their roost area. Setting up along the flyway will help to get the birds to commit.
“I like to set up about a half-dozen decoys in a clearing to get started,” said Rogers, who sets up so there is a clear line of sight to see the birds coming. “Crows have excellent eyesight, and getting in a blind or hiding well is crucial. If they see you at all, the game is up.”
Full camouflage is essential including face covering. These birds are coming to a call and looking for a reason to come in. They will come and commit rather quickly, but they will flare just as quickly. One major advantage is that crows are not considered game animals, so the use of electronic calls is allowed. While you can attract them with mouth calls, the use of electronic calls will definitely make a difference.
Rogers began a recent hunt by setting out his decoys in an old logging deck near a 2-year-old clear-cut bordered by mature hardwoods. He put his remote-controlled electronic call in the middle of the decoy spread, so he can bring birds directly to the decoys, then got well hidden in the brush.
A combination of cover and open areas helps to make the crows a bit more comfortable. The speaker roared a crow revelry, announcing to every crow within a few miles that something was going on that needed their attention. Within two minutes, three crows emerged from above the mature oaks; two fell to the shotguns, and the third escaped. As the fun continued, a half-dozen crows came, shots rang out and crows fell to the ground.
Rogers changed the caller to a wounded crow sound, and hesitant crows in the distance committed and came in. In 20 minutes, with 14 crows on the ground, he headed to another section of the property to repeat the process.
Being migratory birds, crows are managed by the federal migratory bird act and cannot be hunted before Nov. 1 without a permit. Farmers and landowners can obtain a depredation permit from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (www.dnr.sc.gov. Hunting can continue until March 1. There is no daily or season limit on crows.
Considered a pest by many farmers, it isn’t usually difficult to gain permission to hunt crows. In that situation, don’t set up too close to cattle or barns where cattle are housed. Remember to close gates, and treat their land as you would treat your own.
Crow hunting is a great way to pass sometime after big game season closes. Rogers advises that crows are pretty tough to bring down; he uses No. 5 shot as a minimum, with No. 4 shot in a full-choked barrel as his main load.
“Modified will work, but if you can, stay with the full choke for birds that won’t commit to the decoys and are circling,” Rogers said.
For hunters who like good wing-shooting but do not have access to excellent duck holes or other options, consider shooting some crows. The excitement of flocks of birds coming to calls and decoys is addicting and thrilling.