By Steve Hickoff
You probably have a crow call in your hunting vest for locating male spring turkeys when they shock gobble. Well, that season is over. Now you’re looking for something to do. You can use it to call in the bird it actually imitates: crows.
Ask permission of farmers in agricultural areas where you’ve seen crow movement. Chances are they’ll grant it, especially when you indicate what you’re hunting for – of course it goes without saying you should check your state regulations first. Open seasons vary around the country: some are offered in summer; some in early fall and even winter, too.
Pop-up blinds can be used with decoy sets, as can coffin blinds or natural hides along cornfields and other planted crops. Hide well, as crows are just as wary as waterfowl. Fact is it feels a lot like duck and goose hunting at times.
As for calling crows, listen to the range of vocalizations they make during the day: at dawn, mid-morning and into the afternoon. Mimic their calling. Squalling and other such amplified and whining sounds can imitate distress and you might pull them in. Speaking of this, your predator calls – “dying rabbit” and so forth – will also work for crows.
Crows are as suspicious as they are curious though: you seem to get just a few tries at them with a particular unique tactic. We’ve placed deer hides and fox pelts in fields – a legal approach – and had them investigate thinking the whitetail might be food, and dive-bomb the fox (a sworn rival) as it rested on cut corn stalks. They don’t seem to fall for it too long, and you’ll have to pull up after some action and find another field. Crow decoys hold them longer.
Dedicated shotguns you’d use on marsh ducks or field geese work fine, as do plain old pumps. I’ve gunned with anything from inexpensive small-game lead loads to steel shot to expensive turkey loads – leaning consistently to no. 6 size shot. Chamber whatever your choice of firearm shoots best.
Modified chokes are good bets, though some crow hunts will see them passing close (IC choke), while others might be ranging at pass shooting distances (full choke or tighter – as in a turkey hunting or goose option). You’ll find a comfort zone.
And because you’re wondering, yes: I’ve eaten every crow I’ve shot. Know what? It tastes a lot like duck.