The Challenge Of Crow Hunting, Equipment, Optics And Techniques
Discussed in this article are the habits and flyways of the crow, in addition to the many techniques of successful crow hunting, calling, camo, proper guns as well as decoys and decoy set up.
For many of us crow hunting can be as challenging and rewarding as any type of hunting that exists. To constantly fool one of the smartest birds known to man, is harder than it may seem, BUT with this information and techniques you can have a sought after edge. The crow is one of the most intelligent and well sighted birds that exist. Obviously the first thing that you must do in order to hunt this magnificent bird is to locate them. I have found In almost 40 years of crow hunting experience that a quality pair of binoculars to help locate distant crows are a must. For the money, my favorite optics are the Leupold Cascade, camo 8x42mm, which sell for around $300.00 or the Leupold Wind River Mesa, camo 10x50mm which sell for around $220.00. Another pair that I have used for many years is the Nikon Dream Season camo 8x36mm which sell for around $280.00.
All of these work very well for studying their local habits in a given region. By viewing and studying their flight patterns you can best determine an optimal site for your decoy setup. Once this is determined you can use these "flyways" as great ambush sites, as crows relate to given flyways. During early spring when crows are nesting, and living in pairs (not groups) no real flyways exist. As summer approaches and the young leave the nest, the crows start forming groups because there is safety in large numbers. Now is when they can be patterned. As winter approaches larger flocks are formed. At night crows will group together for safety in treetops against their enemies such as the great horned owl. These concentrated areas are referred to as the "roost". Hunting a roost in fall and winter is the best.
Some people know, some don't, that crows are mortal enemies with birds of prey, such as hawks, owls, eagles etc. For this reason a good setup of decoys including an owl or hawk decoy mixed with crow decoys is preferred to fool this bird. I have found that the plastic full sized crow decoys work the best. This type of setup works very well with modern electronic calling devices with remote speakers as well as mouth calls for us more experienced crowers. My favorite calling tapes are Johnny Stewart's "Crow Fighting An Owl", "Fighting Crows", "The Crow Reveille", and finally the "Death Cry of A Crow".
After being inactive all night, crows are hungry and more aggressive in the morning, than later in the day.They are ready to eat and FIGHT. Most often, at first light, they can be lured in closer to a setup, putting them in deadly shotgun range. As the day wears on they can become more cautious and weary meaning they will come to the setup but many times they will stay high in the air and not be fooled into gun range. With mornings always being a great hunt, the crow can also be hunted during all daylight hours. Locate a flock with a good pair of binoculars, then make your move. Concealment is mandatory. From an aerial view the crow will always have the advantage. Full camo, including face mask, hat, gloves and gun camo is best.(Waving a shiny gun barrel around will most often send them on their way with no shots fired.) Once shots are fired, that location and setup are done, move on. Crows are too smart to be fooled again at that location. For diehards like me, relocate to a new area by glassing and finding more birds, make your setup, then get ready for more action.
Preferred setup sites are those that offer thick cover for human concealment without the obstruction of too many over head trees and limbs. I have hunted a roost in my state that numbers over 100,000 crows. Through my homework I know exactly where they roost. With definite known flyways I know exactly where to setup, about 1/2 mile plus away from the roost. My choice for this scenario is the thick undercover where I can normally put a large tree between me and the incoming birds, because they cannot see me til its too late and it hides my movement. A good morning hunt for me in this area means about a 100 crows won't be coming home tonight. Sometimes semi open fields can be great setup sites if they are on a flyway.
I prefer the small popup camo, loose netted hunting blinds. There are times on very, very windy days, crows fly naturally low to the ground, (in gun range) coming to and from the roost. On these occasions no decoys are needed, one should immediately find concealment under these paths and good luck trying to keep you gun full of shells. As one wave comes and goes the next is sure to be right behind. I have had over 1 1/2 hour non stop shoots during these times. This is the exception when you do not have to get up and relocate because they will use their flyway no matter what and the crows that haven't gotten there yet have not heard the previous shots.
For me, my Remmington Model 1100, in semi automatic, is an excellent firearm choice. When the action is hot a simple pull of the trigger beats pump action in my opinion. Of course I know that pumps are the choice of some hunters, and you should use what ever you are most comfortable with. Crows are not the easiest birds to knock out of the sky. 12 gauge has the power for me. Shot number 4 is my preferred BB size as it has the power to break bone at further distances giving me a 40-50+ yard advantage. Full choke works best to keep the pattern tight. A crow coming towards you is easier to down than the ones that are trying to fly away, but, the 4 shot will give you more distance as they try to escape.
The crow can be found globally and there are very high numbers of them in the US. If you have not yet experienced the thrill of a crow hunt yet do yourself a favor as it doesn't require a large investment and it is such a thrilling adventure! If at first you don't succeed, you have probably been spotted by these wise birds, learn from the experience and try again. With a good setup and proper concealment you should be very successful. Always remember to check the laws, regulations, and designated seasons of your state and most of all, HAVE FUN!!! Please include the younger generation with you on your crow hunts to keep this tradition alive.
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Looking for top quality optics for your next crow hunt? Optics And Outdoor Gear offers Leupold binoculars, Nikon binoculars, and Sightron binoculars. We offer many other optics for all of your needs.