Crow hunting is a late-summer option in many states around the country. Here, some roosted birds survey the situation. Vermont F&W Dept. photo
Watch areas crows frequent. If late-summer offers a season where you live, you’ll notice birds congregate (often in big numbers) and move in specific areas at first light. Vermont F&W Dept. photo
By Steve Hickoff
Need some hunting action? Check your state’s regulations. Chances are there’s a crow season slot offered sometime soon. Local to my northern New England home base, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont all offer August options. Maybe your hunting location does too.
Some history: 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 even 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. Crows even help us find gobblers then. How do you hunt crows now? A few ideas follow:
DECOYING: Decoying is crucial to your crow hunt. 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. 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.
CALLING: 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. Really. It’s fast-shooting action, and a real challenge.
As with all forms of hunting, it pays to scout as you would for any other species. Late-summer sees migratory groups gathering as they shift ranges. This is a super time to decoy and call them. I have yet to encounter a farmer who hasn’t granted permission to hunt crows.