Looking for a challenge? Look no further than the elusive crow. The common crow is a migratory bird that requires a HIP to hunt, and are the only migratory bird that a hunter can use electronic calls to call a bird in. During the summertime they are scattered in the northern United States and southern Canada, nesting and raising their young that later will travel south with them again.
But, while crows might be present in outrageous numbers where you hunt, does not mean that they will be any easier to kill. A crow will always be a crow, by itself or with others, no matter where you find it. The crow has been called “the smartest creature in feathers.” Treat it as such, and you will have hunting success; be haphazard or careless, and you will be lucky to get off a shot at a crow high out of range. The crow has super eyesight and this is its primary defense, which means the hunter must be thoroughly concealed and must not move until he is ready to start shooting.
Crow decoys, along with calling are the most widely used technique for hunting crows. Calls can either be a mouth-blown call or electronic call. The advantage of an electronic call is that it saves a lot of lungpower. It also is super-effective because it plays actual sounds of crows cawing and carrying on.
Placing decoys is not a science. I like to put three or four decoys in a leafless tree, maybe a few imitating crows, and one of an owl. Just be sure the decoys are placed where they can easily be seen. Wear camouflage clothing and crouch by a bush, or even in it, and begin calling.
A pop-up ground blind, like deer and turkey hunters hunt out of can be used. Always remember that the telltale white of a human’s face or hands can give them away. Streak your face with camouflage make-up, or cover it with a camo head net. I always wear black gloves too. The movement of black gives the impression of other crows in the area.
Hunt along a flyway, where crows travel as they go to and from the roost, or simply drive and look for crows feeding in a field. Most landowners will gladly grant permission to hunt crows, because they dislike the fact that these birds steal their crops. Get good ways from a concentration to situate your ambush point, and then use a call with sufficient volume to reach the crows. If you try to approach too close, you likely will be detected before you start to call. A crow that is cautious and suspicious is not going to make many mistakes.
Occasionally an entire group of crows will come hustling toward the call, and once they spy the owl decoy, they will fly in and start harassing the fake owl. Other times just a lone crow will appear on a recon mission. It is important to shoot the messenger before it can see the danger and report it to others.
The charm of this hunting is that it takes minimal equipment. Camouflage clothing, a shotgun, and a call of some sort are all you need. Sometimes it does help to conspicuously place a couple of crow decoys, and maybe an owl, but decoys are not mandatory. When crows hear a call, they will usually respond and fly over to take a look. That one pass is all you can hope for. Sometimes crows will fly over a second time, but do not count on it.
Any lightweight electronic caller, or a mouth-blown call will work, although the electronic caller with the authentic sounds is the better choice. Volume is not all that important since all you want to do is just call a small portion of the area, then move on. It is better to have just a few birds respond rather than a whole bunch of crows.
These resident crows will not come close and stay around. They will probably make a flyby, see something wrong, and leave. If just two or three crows appear, two shooters stand a good chance of getting all of them. But, use a call that is too loud, and you will pull crows from far away. If there is a dozen or more birds, you will be lucky to get a third of them. So it is best just to call briefly, shoot at anything that shows up, then move a short distance and start over. Being mobile is the key to crow hunting.
There are several ways of finding crows to hunt. The easiest, of course, is to simply drive and look for them. If they are moving you probably will see them flying around, and crows have the habit of not sitting still very long. Another method is to drive, stop often and listen. If there are crows back in the woods, you should be able to hear them. A raucous crow is loud. And finally, the easiest is to just drive, stop occasionally and call. Make sure you are far enough off the road before you shoot to stay legal. If you move enough and stop enough you are bound to call some crows, as long as they are in the area. Always make sure you have permission to hunt on any ground you stop at.
This is not haphazard shooting. You simply cannot wander into the woods carelessly, call and expect crows to come flying in. Crows are much too sharp for that. The successful hunter is the one who gets into the woods without the crows being aware he is anywhere near, hides himself effectively, and does not betray his position until that moment when crows come into shotgun range and he is ready to shoot.
Crows are most prevalent in the scattered woodlots of agricultural country. These patches of timber provide protection and roosts while an available food supply is close by. Crows have a varied diet, but they seem to prefer corn and wheat. Locate fields where these grains are grown and you will likely find crows. They seem to go hand in hand.
Vehicles are the norm around fields; so crows do not fear them. However, they do keep their distance. A parked vehicle can be left in the open of a field if the hunter will only move a hundred yards into the woods before calling.
Crow hunters cannot compromise on concealment. We cannot be too careful. Most hunters fire at crows that are not within range of their guns, simply because they did not try to bring the crows any closer to their set up.
A crow is not a hard bird to kill. Some hunters recommend modified or full-choke guns and No. 6 shotshells. For the hunter who hopes to get just one chance at crow’s way out there, this combination might work, but for close-up shooting, the best kind, it is the worst combination. I prefer a lightweight 20 or 12-guage shotgun, improved-cylinder choke and No. 8 shells.
Many people consider the crow a pest. They would like to see them eradicated. I believe the crow is worthy of more respect than that.
After all, any creature that is so much fun to pursue cannot be too bad.
But, what do you do with all the crow you end up shooting? If you are anything like me, you hate shooting something, and letting it go to waste. For the longest time I did not know what to do with all the birds. Then I fried one up. Don’t stop reading now. If you like chicken gizzards, then you will like crow.
I am not alone. Several people in my family have tried and like the taste of crow. Even some people that did not know what they were eating had seconds.
I have tried crow cooked numerous ways. I am going to share with you the way my family enjoys it. This might seem strange at first, but if you can get the idea that you are eating crow out of your head you will probably enjoy it. We only use the breasts from the crow when frying it.
1. Tenderize the breasts with a meat mallet. Cover the meat with a piece of plastic wrap to avoid splatters.
2. Dip the tenderized and flattened meat in your favorite breading. I use the same breading that I do when frying fish.
3. Heat oil in a skillet to 350 degrees. Place meat in hot oil. Cook for about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through.
4. Enjoy. You might be surprised how much you like eating crow.
The thought of eating crow turns many people off. But, I have found crow to be good. And, it sure is better than letting the birds go to waste. The next time you are crow hunting, bring one back and cook it. The next time you are crow hunting after that, you will probably bring back more than one to throw in the frying pan.