What the preseason is to the NFL, crows are to the Waterfowler; a great way to prepare for a GREAT waterfowl season!
To advance your confidence with a shotgun, shoot it. To get really good shoot it at targets that mimic the type of shots you will face while hunting ducks and geese.
The essentials to hunting crows are the same as for waterfowl; decoys, calls, and blinds.
I use full body, fully flocked, crow decoys. I usually used up to a dozen or so. Sometimes twice that many.
I am using a new fully flocked decoy from Lucky Duck called a Cawlin Crow. It incorporates an electric call in the decoy. I really like it.
I like to add movement to my Crow set ups. I do this using two different movement strategies.
The first one is a new crow decoy from LuckyDuck called the Triple Motion Crow decoy; three flocked crow decoys on a motion stand. The decoys have a life like random motion
The second strategy utilizes a type of “jerk string” decoy setup incorporating two flocked decoys on a eight inch spring on a 10” x 24” x 2” board. A pull cord throw the beak has the decoys bending down and pecking a red piece of cloth.
This set up with a few decoys placed on the perimeter makes a deadly set up. The movement keeps the birds form getting “wise” to quick.
I will also utilize harvested crows as decoys by putting the body on a stake.
Although I use a “home-made” electronic caller for my crow calling the integrated decoy caller disburses the sounds and really makes the decoy set up come alive as the birds get close. Setting the decoys out in front and downwind keeps the crows coming close.
I prefer to set up in a cut field and hunt from a layout blind. This is as close as you can get to practicing early season goose hunting that I know. Crows come into the wind and almost always circle the decoys several times before committing.
They are uncanny in their eyesight, seem to recognize patterns quickly, and can be extremely cautious to the set up.
In hunting crows, you can use an electronic call which provides a big advantage. The only drawback to an electronic call is the price. Check out some calls in the sporting goods catalogue you got on your coffee table and you will see they range from just north of a C note to several hundred bucks. My solution was to visit Radio Shack and pick up an outdoor speaker ($26), a mini amplifier ($14) and some wire. Combining those ingredients with my IPhone and I got a decent electronic call that draw in crows for under $50.
I also use a mouth blown call and feel that more sound the better.
It is essential in crow hunting, as it is in waterfowl hunting, to have a very good hide. Because for me crow hunting is done in the summer months, I like a lite weight blind that is easy to move and not suffocating.
For most situations camo netting is, for my money, the best material to make blinds. It is light weight, strong, and provides a depth to the camo that other materials can’t match. I am also a believer in camo netting because you can pick up natural vegetation and easily add it to the netting to finish the blend of the blind.
If I am in the field, a camo field blanket is my first choice. Made from light weight leafy cut duck blind netting with some raffia grass tied on and some field debris tossed on to it you can disappear in the field.
If I am on a tree line, I like a wooden framed blind. In these situations I can sit on a stool and stand to shoot. Mimics duck hunting the North Dakota pot holes I will visit in the fall.
On fence rows, I have been using a field blanket hanging on the fence behind me and similar netting lying across my lap and legs. I am strongly considering trying one of the Ghillie Suits for the fence row and river bank. I have heard lots of positive talk from the guys who have been using the suits on turkey and predator hunts. I like the idea of wearing my blind!
Out on the sand bars I use my marsh boat. On the boat the camo netting has a huge weight advantage over other types of blind material. My marsh boat is small and is pushed by a small outboard. Weight is always an issue with such crafts. The leafy netting also allows a hunter to easily eliminate all edges and corners and the craft blinds nicely onto the fairly barren sand bar...appearing as another tree washed up on the beach.
What crows lack in gastronomic prize they make up for in offering challenges that polish the skill of the duck and goose man.
By treating each aspect of the hunt with an eye to practicing for waterfowl, Crows provide a great learning experience.
And until I see you in the field, be Safe, Be Good, AND BE LUCKY!