by Naomi K. Shapiro
With all the people hunting waterfowl or upland game birds, there's one species most don't think of: The crow. Let me promise you, if you REALLY want to challenge yourself, try going after those black birds you see on the side of the highway chomping on road kill. They are among the most difficult quarry to successfully hunt anywhere.
I personally have always admired crows – as neighbors, as being extremely intelligent, tenacious and tough as nails, and sticking it out with us in the severest of Wisconsin winters. And they have a terrific uncanny "sixth sense," of danger, along with super eyesight. Trying to get close to them is darn near impossible.
Here are three methods that hunters use when going after crows -- and believe me, the fact that some are successful doesn't mean you will be. Successful crow hunters know how tough it is to shoot these birds.
1. Sneak up on the crows in heavy forest or cover and crouch under trees. Bring along a 12-gauge with heavy duty shot if you're going to have to shoot through trees or cover. If you're lucky, you'll get a look at the them before they spot you, "cawing" as they fly away, and seeming to laugh at your puny efforts to nail them. BUT, you can get lucky.
2. Some set out crow decoys and use crow calls, and wait for the crows to come in. And it's been found that if you put out a predator decoy -- like an owl or a hawk -- that will irritate the bejeebers out of the crows, and they'll come in and attack the interloping predators. OR, always being hungry, the crows will think the predator has made a kill and they will come in to steal it. In order to get these crows, you have to set up in a concealed blind and have a shotgun.
3. Now here's a real tough one to discuss: Whether it is legal to hunt crows with a rifle. We have heard "mumblings" that there are crow hunters who do opt for using a rifle. After an agonizing number of inquiries, we finally found a Wisconsin DNR game warden in Madison who was able to clear up any ambivalence about whether you can hunt a crow with a rifle. The short answer is a solid: NO!
Crows in Wisconsin (perhaps elsewhere as well) are considered a "game bird," and therefore can only be hunted with a shotgun. They are classified as a migratory bird as well (having lived in the middle of a forest on a lake in far northwestern Wisconsin for 15 years, and seeing untold numbers of crows toughing out every Wisconsin winter, we wonder about the "migratory" part). Be that as it may, this particular DNR warden said that he BELIEVED Federal law also prohibits the use of a rifle when hunting crows (we cannot attest as to whether that statement is true or not); and he said that Wisconsin's law simply mirrors the federal prohibition. Also, even a farmer, or someone who is legally permitted and qualified to hunt crows OUT OF SEASON because of the "nuisance provision" in Wisconsin regs cannot use a rifle. It's strictly verboten. So - -if you know of anyone who is considering hunting crows using a light, heavy powered rifle bullet (let's say a .223 or maybe a .22-250), or indeed has done so, that person, if a rifle is used, has violated or will violate the law. That's the best information we were able to obtain. Again, while we have never personally met anyone or know anyone who does use a rifle to hunt crows, we believe that it happens - - and probably more out of ignorance of the law rather than by design. Be aware: If you're caught doing so, you're subject to be cited. But this same warden did say, that like all law enforcement officers, a particular warden may just issue a warning rather than a full blown citation. Our earnest suggestion, the law being what it is, is to stick to a shotgun and forget the rifle. Whether you agree with the prohibition or not, it's the law, and we're all required to obey it.
One thing that may deter crow hunting, at least in Wisconsin, is that YOU MUST TAKE THE BIRDS! You can't just leave them lay. If you're spotted doing that, a warden will quickly ticket you. Anyone for "eating crow" literally? There are indeed any number of crow recipes, but even Phil Schweik, who says, "I will eat anything that doesn't eat me first," passes on "crow pie" or equal. 'Nuff said.