Crow hunting makes for good practice
Outdoors with Ben
By Ben Norman
Wing shooters yearning for dove season to open can jumpstart the season by warming up on one of our more challenging targets-the crow. The crow's curiosity can be used to the wing shooter's advantage, especially when it comes to crow calling. Calling is usually done with a mouthblown call or the electronic game caller, equipped with a tape or record that imitates crows fighting an owl or hawk.
Electronic callers are illegal to use on deer, turkey, ducks and other game animals, but are legal on crows in Alabama. In addition to a caller, you will need your favorite shotgun with Number Six or Seven and a half shot, full camo clothing including a head net and gloves and an owl or hawk decoy. With this minimal of equipment you are now ready to go crow hunting.
Conceal the speaker beneath the tree that the decoy is in, then set up in a blind about 25 feet in front of the directional speaker. The scout crow will focus his attention on the spot where the calling is coming from, giving you a split second more time to drop him. Old crow hunters insist that you must kill the first crow, or scout, that comes over, or if unable to make a clean kill, remain hidden and do nothing to alert him that anything is out of the ordinary.
The scout crow's failure to return to the flock makes the other crows think he has joined the "ruckus" and they take off to join the fight.
The birds will dive and dart at the decoy, squawking loudly and adding a little enticement for the incoming birds. Shooting can be extremely fast-paced as the birds dive on the decoy. Crows will usually make several passes at the decoy before retreating. This is the time to change from the "fight" call to the "crow in distress" call. When the distress call is played at high volume, the crows will usually return to the call, giving the hunters several more minutes of shooting action.
When the action has ended at your particular setup, pack your gear and move a mile or two into the home range of a new flock. Four or five setups can be made in a half-day of hunting. Permission to hunt crows is much easier to obtain than for game animals.
Crows can be hunted any time of the year, as there is no closed season, but good hunting ethics dictate that they not be hunted during the nesting season.
If you have never shot crows you will be in for quite a surprise when it comes to their aerobatic ability. They dive and dart in an evasive manner that will test even the best scattergunner's skills.
So if you want to polish up your shot-gunning skills prior to dove season, dress to look like a bush, grab your bird gun and a crow caller. Then go get in a little pre-season practice on one of Alabama's most overlooked wing-shooting opportunities.