Yamaha Outdoors Tips — Crow Hunting 101

Crows provide fast hunting action over decoy sets matched with calling. Courtesy photo USFW.

Crows provide fast hunting action over decoy sets matched with calling. Courtesy photo USFW.

By Steve Hickoff

I have yet to encounter a farmer who hasn’t granted permission to hunt crows.

Back in the 1970s, crows were first recognized as migratory game birds. These days states around the country establish seasons. Summer offerings, and split-season fall or winter time periods, aren’t uncommon. Typically springtime nesting periods offer a break in the action, but hey we’re usually busy with the turkeys then.

Why crow hunt? As implied in my lead, large groups of crows damage agricultural efforts. It offers between-season action as well. How’s it work?

First, it pays to scout as you would for any other species. Watch areas crows frequent. If summer offers a season where you live, you’ll notice birds congregate and move in specific areas at first light. The secondary phase in late-summer sees migratory groups gathering as they shift ranges. This is a super time to hunt them as well.

Crow-hunting traditionalists use the classic owl decoy trick, as the birds are arch enemies, but I’ve learned that varying tactics is required if you hunt one area frequently.

Decoying is crucial to your crow hunt. Plastic-bodied crow fakes work fine when established in front of a treeline you can hide in. Blinds (natural are best) are essential as crows are wary as wild turkeys, and they can view you from above as well.

To enhance decoy sets, we’ve used a propped-up fox pelt in a field, a deer hide (as if to imitate downed carcass-imitating crow food), plastic eggs, and so on, anything that might draw in a crow’s curious attention. As always, check state regulations.

Electronic crow calling, peppered with your own real imitations, works too. Set it nearby in your blind. 

As calling goes, with decoys in place, calm, still mornings work best. You can begin with casual vocalizations, work in excited calls, and also the slam dunk of them all, the wailing moan of a distressed crow. So-called dying rabbit predator calls draw their attention too.

Fooling them into range is half the fun. Shooting, often between a roost and feeding area, rivals the best that waterfowling can offer. 

Bored waiting for big-game seasons to arrive? Check your state’s regulations for crow hunting. Then load up that Yamaha ATV or Side-by-Side and visit a local farm. Chances are you’ll be welcome.