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Beginner Techniques - Locating Crows

Obviously, before you can shoot crows, you must find them. It may seem like crows are everywhere, and in fact it is possible to call in and shoot a few crows just about anywhere, but some careful planning will help to maximize your shooting when you go afield.

FeedlotAs with any type of hunting, some pre-hunt scouting goes a long way towards boosting your luck. Fortunately for us, crows are very noisy and easily seen. Spend some time cruising country roads looking for commonly used flight paths, concentrations of crows, or better yet, a roosting area. Keep an eye on newly cut fields for feeding crows. Crows love to hang out at dumps and can always be found around cattle feedlots. And of course, finding a sizable roost is like striking gold to an avid crow hunter.

The farming community has no love for the "black menace" and getting permission to hunt crows is much easier than for other types of hunting. As always, conduct yourself in a courteous and respectful way (see Crow Busters Code of Conduct). Often the relationship developed between a crow hunter and a landowner will eventually grow into an invite to hunt other game species.

Public land is often a great resource for crow hunting. In many parts of the country, crow hunters are somewhat scarce. You may find that the same public land that was overrun with hunters during deer season may be wide open to the crow hunter. Check with your local Department of Natural Resources for a list of available locations. To ask other local crow hunters about crow hunting in your area, see The Crow Busters Forum.

Once you have found a hunt-able concentration of crows, you must then decide where to set up a stand. There are two main methods for locating calling stands. They are referred to as the Flyway and (Hopscotch or Hit & Run) techniques.

The Flyway Technique

The Flyway technique involves learning the daily flight patterns of the crows in your area, preferably the major paths they take to and from their roost.

flywayCrows spend their night in communal roosts. Some roosts may contain only a few dozen crows, while major roosts may host tens of thousands of crows each evening. In the morning, the rested and hungry crows will leave the roost in all directions, but on specific flight paths, kind of like the spokes of a wheel. These spokes will take the crows to choice feeding areas. From there, the crows will spread out throughout the countryside searching for food and getting into the kind of mischief crows are known for. In the late afternoon, the crows will form up into flight paths that will lead them back to their roost by dark, the only difference being that they will often stop at various points along the way. These points are known as Staging Areas. Think of them as a rest stop on the way back to the roost.

These flyways can be hunted in two ways. In the morning, even though the crows may be headed many miles away, it really isn't necessary to know their exact destinations. It is more important to position yourself somewhere within a few hundred yards on either side of the flyway, intercepting small groups of crows as they travel back and forth. The idea is to lure several crows at a time off the flyway and over your blind. In this way, one spot can account for a couple of hours of constant shooting and can allow you to bag large numbers of crows with the least effort.

The same method will work in the evening. However, the crows are now weary from feeding and will often be found flying sky-high and preoccupied with getting to the safety of their roost. It will be much harder to persuade them to deviate from their flight path and this stubbornness will get progressively worse as the sun nears the horizon. However, the Staging Areas mentioned earlier are the perfect spot to intercept these reluctant birds. Some of the highest numbers of birds can be taken in this situation.

The Hopscotch (Hit & Run) Technique

Hit & RunThe (Hopscotch or Hit & Run) technique is the method most often tried by crow hunters and can be used effectively even in territory that you are unfamiliar with. Basically, hunters drive through the countryside searching for small bands of feeding or calling crows. A quick blind is constructed and the calling begins, usually a Fight or Distress sequence of calls, with the result almost always being that at least a few crows will respond. This method has the advantage of being flexible and allows the crow hunter to locate and hunt different groups of crows once an individual group becomes call shy. However, the very nature of this type of setup seldom results in more than a dozen or two crows being killed before the local flock wises up to your intentions and you must move on. For ways to maximize the number of call-wise crows see Advanced Techniques.

This method can be very effective in areas with large tracts of farm land or big parcels of public land. The key to scoring large numbers of crows using this technique is to be able to quickly get in, set up, shoot and move to a new area, allowing for the maximum amount of ground covered per day. If you are hunting public land, try to find areas that allow vehicle traffic such as logging roads. This will allow you to jump to new areas quickly. Depending on the terrain, you may need to move a mile or more between sites. In farming areas, always remember to get permission first.

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