July pursuit: The hunt is on for the common crowWORTHINGTON — The forth of July has come and gone and the beginning of those hot, humid summer days are now here. This is a time of year when dog training is difficult, due to these temps, and the fishing normally starts to slow down overall. This is a time that outdoors folks will use to fix up a deer stand, set up a trail camera and do those other work-related projects as they wait for the fall season to come around.
By: Scott Rall, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — The forth of July has come and gone and the beginning of those hot, humid summer days are now here. This is a time of year when dog training is difficult, due to these temps, and the fishing normally starts to slow down overall. This is a time that outdoors folks will use to fix up a deer stand, set up a trail camera and do those other work-related projects as they wait for the fall season to come around.
I have no desire to hurry the heat of summer away, as it will be far too cold far too soon for me. I love summer, even if it only seems to last about 30 minutes. There is one pastime that I enjoy in these summer months that can break up the lack of other hunting opportunities. This is the pursuit of one of the smartest birds that fly. The hunt is on for the common crow.
These black buggers are easily one of the weariest birds on the wing.
They have a two-part season, and the second season starts on Wednesday, July 15th. If you chose to hunt crows, you will not have a lot of company. Of 100 hunters, there might be two or three who hunt crows. It’s this lack of competition that I like, and you can spend many hours hunting crows and not see another soul doing the same. It is the only species that I will hunt and not eat the meat. One of my friends, Greg Amundson, actually tried it and told me that is was not all that bad. I will just have to take his word for it.
Crow hunting for me is a two-person activity. Crows can be hunted in the road right away, much like other small game species. We arm ourselves with a Johny Walker game call and some high-end eight shot shells for the 12 gauges. The game call is nothing more than a cassette recorder and a loud speaker. I use a wounded crow call, which puts out the sound of an almost dead crow in the last throws of life. Crows must think that they can help the injured or just want to gaze upon one of their own on their way to the next world. By any means, any crow within about a mile will come winging in to check things out.
Once the shooter has gotten out of the vehicle, the driver drives away as the shooter sets up the call and finds some cover. The driver takes a leisurely drive around the section at 20 mph. Any crow that will come to the call will do so in just a few short minutes. From my experience, they never fly right to the sound but will circle just out of gun range, waiting to see that all is OK before coming closer. Because of this wariness, the shooter sets the call and then moves about 50 yards away. The birds will circle, and if you are lucky, the unsuspecting crow will cross overhead. If you can bag two crows from one spot, that is considered good.
Even if there are many crows coming, I will always take the shot that I have because there is no guarantee that if you pass that shot that you will get even one other. I have seen my partners hold off on taking a sure shot in hopes of getting a multi-crow opportunity, only to come up completely empty. By the time the driver is back, about 10 minutes later, it’s time to load up and move to a new spot. This is repeated until it’s time to call it quits.
Some of the keys to success is to shoot heavy loads with good punch, as a crow is a tough bird and will not come down easily. Having a spot for the shooter to conceal themselves or wearing the appropriate color camo clothes can be a great benefit. If you shoot a crow or two from one spot, this spot will become the Dead Sea after hunting there a time or two. Crows will not be fooled more than once or twice in one spot, even if you go back to that spot six weeks later.
The crow numbers, in my opinion, are way down from 10 years ago. This might be because of the fact that the reading I’ve done concludes that the west nile virus has hit the common crow pretty hard. There are not many people who hold the crow close to their hearts, so getting permission in key spots is not usually hard to acquire. The key here, as with all hunting, is to get proper permission from the proper person. Having many wooded spots will net more crows than the run-and-gun method I described, but bagging 10 crows, as opposed to five, doesn’t make for a much better outing, in my mind.
Crow hunting is an outing that does a great service for almost every other bird that flies because crows do great damage to other nesting birds. I’ve heard that for every crow you shoot you save 15-20 other more desirable species. I will continue to do my part after the 15th of July.
Fall will be here way too soon and winter will be close behind, so for now, I will enjoy the outdoor pursuits that July provides. When it comes to crow hunting the saying goes like this: “Try it, you might just like it.”