First let’s look at the regulatory requirements. Most farmers or landowners consider them pests. That’s the welcoming part. Don’t ask me why, but crows are considered a migratory non-game species by the Wildlife Resources Commission. Yes, there is a season on crows and it started on June 1st. Despite the fact there are no bag limits, you can only hunt them three days a week: Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Here is a technique I use for great success.
If you have ever been around crows you know they are smart and very wary. They will not fall for just any setup. Crows are difficult to pass shoot, typically flying 40 yards or higher, so you need something to bring them into range. I use two complementary tools: decoys and calling. After I’ve gotten permission to hunt I find a hay field or pasture with an adjacent tree line for a hide position. I get out there just before daylight. Crows are early risers and start moving shortly after sunrise. I place 8 to 10 crow decoys in an irregular pattern in the field 25 to 30 yards away from the tree line. This is where the calling comes in.
I know a lot of folks use mouth calls for crow, and I’ve tried them before. They do work. But I’ve come to swear by electronic calls. I use the FoxPro Wildfire and play the fighting crow call. You cannot replicate multiple crows with a mouth call. I don’t know what it is in the nature of crows, but they love a fight. Every time I use the fighting crow call it works like a magnet. Last year a friend and I setup as described on a field south of Asheville. Once the call was on the crows flocked to the field we were in. In thirty minutes of shooting we bagged eighteen crows. We did that several times over the summer with the same success. It works.
Some other things you need to consider. First, you have to go full camo. As mentioned before crows are wary not just of humans, but of any movement. Camo helps mask the move to shoot. That’s also why we set up in a tree line. The trees provide overhead cover and break up our human profile as well as conceal movement we do need to make. The decoys, calls, and camouflage all work in conjunction to produce a successful hunt.
To add to that success you need the right shotgun and ammo combination. Along with their wariness, crows are also hard to bring down. First, even using decoys you are still looking at a typical shot of 30 – 40 yards. Any 12 gauge shotgun with a modified choke is proper medicine. My preference when it comes to shotshell loads is a high velocity #6 or 7 ½. Anything smaller might lead to crippling shots. Yeah, high velocity shells cost more but there are some out there that are $2 – 3 dollars more than standard field loads. It will be worth it, believe me. So if you want some challenging wingshooting before the dove opener, get out and call in some crows!
The WRC conducted a public meeting to discuss deer management in late May. I was unable to attend but talked with a friend who did. He said it was not well attended, only about 20 – 25 folks there. Most of the time was spent with WRC staff discussing planned changes to the deer season in 2018 – 2019 and getting feedback. Looks like we may see a shortened muzzleloader season and a lengthened gun deer season. They are already looking at an additional archery season after gun season closes this year in December. My friend said the proposal that got the most feedback was about the extended gun season because it overlaps with the second bear season. Guess we’ll have to see how this washes out. We’ll report when information is available.