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Beginner Techniques - Common Mistakes Made By Crow Hunters

Crow hunting is not an exact science. Thank God, that's what makes it so challenging. However, there are some mistakes that are commonly made by beginners that can be prevented.

Over hunting an area
Crows are smart, they remember. While it's tempting to constantly return to the spot where you had a great shoot, if done too often, it will result in some really educated birds. Rotate locations and if you are hunting a flyway, move up and down and side to side along the flight path. This is probably the number one reason that crow hunters experience "Call Shy" crow behavior.
Partial camouflage
Camo hunterCrows are the most intelligent bird in North America. They can not only detect colors that are out of place, but shapes and silhouettes as well. Be sure to always completely camouflage any part of your body that the crows might be able to see, even if you are hunting from a blind. It is especially important to use a head net to cover the most visible part of your body, your face. You can never use too much camo when it comes to crow hunting.
Stopping your calling too soon
While crows can be unbelievably smart at times, they can also appear totally oblivious to their surroundings at other times. Perhaps it is because, like us, they can sometimes become slaves to their emotions. Whatever the reason, don't make the common mistake of assuming that once you have fired a shot, every crow in the immediate vicinity automatically knows what's up. Once the crows are worked up, you can often get them to return to the decoys over and over again if you keep up a steady stream of calls, even during gunfire.
Too much volume
Some of the new elctronic callers can be cranked up to produce a tremendous call volume when needed. While this can be helpful when trying to get the attention of distant crows, too much volume will scare the heck out of close approaching birds, especially if they have been exposed to other callers recently. Be sure to back the volume down to normal levels as the crows move in your direction. If unsure, play it safe and move the volume down to below the normal level of a live crow.
Over leading birds
over leadingCrows can often seem to be rocketing into your setup, especially when they are hot and bothered about the new plastic owl in the neighborhood. However, a common mistake with first time crow hunters is to assume the birds are going faster than they are, causing the shooter to tend to over lead the birds as they pass the decoys. While it is impossible to give hard and fast rules relating to shot lead on crows, you will normally be safe with a simple beak or two lead on birds once they enter the decoy zone.
Using heavy loads and heavy shot
Crows look (and act) tough for their size, but in reality they average a pound or less in weight, and like all birds are fairly fragile. Many novice crow hunters take #6 shot loads into the field assuming it will give them an advantage. Think about that, #6 is usually recommended for pheasant hunting, a bird thats three times or more the size of a crow. There is no need to opt for magnum high brass loads and/or any heavier shot than #7.5, even for pass shooting crows. Besides the savings you will realize, you will often be more consistent with a good quality trap or skeet load that patterns well in your shotgun. Stay away from some of the promotional shells that are often sold. They are cheaply made and will ruin your pattern.
Not using a tree decoy
tree decoyWhen crows approach a decoy spread, they are expecting to see a scenario that they are familiar and comfortable with. One of the things they expect to see is a scout or sentinel crow higher up than the rest of the decoys, especially in an owl or hawk confrontation. So whenever possible always try to place one or more decoys in the surrounding trees, or any high spot above the set. There are many methods to doing this, including strings, poles, and even climbing, but make the effort. It will pay off on those wily educated birds.
Moving too quickly
Crows have great eyesight and can spot hunter movement in an instant. Always wait until the last possible moment (hopefully once the birds are well inside your effective range) before shouldering guns. You just can't believe how fast a crow can do a 360 degree turn when trying to "get out of Dodge", especially with a tail wind. Seconds count when shooting these wily birds, so limit your movement until it is necessary.
No backup call ready
calls on lanyardCrow calling with a hand call takes a lot of blowing, and usually a lot of spit. This can cause reeds to stick or freeze up, especially in the cold northern states. Always have a spare call hanging around your neck in case of a failure in the middle of a decoying group of crows. The last thing you want to have happen is to have a call failure and go "silent" just as the shooting starts.
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