Tips From the Pros
Well folks, February is here and a lot of us have already traded in the boom sticks and archery tackle for jigging rods and tip-ups. Not that I don't enjoy ice fishing, but for me its also a chance to sharpen my shotgun skills. Let's talk crows.
When calling these birds, I love to use an electronic call. If you don't have one, or its not in your budget, don't fret. You can also be very effective with an inexpensive mouth call. The art of crow calling can be complicated, and remember, there is no substitute for experience. It's a good idea to know what calls a crow makes and what they mean.
One essential thing to use is decoys. There are two basic set-ups I use for decoying. One is the friendly spread and the other is the fighting. The friendly spread should be used to imitate feeding crows with relaxed dispositions. Use them in crop fields or open areas near fruit or nut bearing trees. I also put them up as high as I can in nearby branches. Do not put them close to you or your blind, you don't want to draw any unnecessary attention to your location. A crow's eye sight has been compared to that of a turkey's, meaning it's impeccable. In this situation, the number of decoys you use depends on how many you have. In other words, if you got'em, use'em. For the fighting set-up, an owl decoy is a must have. Crows and owls are natural enemies and making the owl decoy as visible as possible is the key to your success. Use fence posts, small trees, or bushes to get your owl off the ground. I personally never put any of my crow decoys on the ground in this situation. Another good ambush spot is in or near pine trees. A lot of times they aren't as tall as mature hardwoods, which is essential considering the fact that most of the time crows come in just above the tree tops. It's also important to know a lot of the time, the first crow to come in is the "scout". If he presents you with a shot, it's imperative that you connect; otherwise you may as well pack-it-up and move to a different location. On the other hand, if you don't get a shot make sure he doesn't see you because that can have the same effect. Crows are very intelligent. It has been said they are one of the smartest birds in the world.
The last thing to think about is gun/load selection. I like a 12 ga. with a modified or improved cylinder and No. 5 shot. Although other combinations can be effective, this is my preferred set-up.
I hope this was helpful and keeps you in the field this winter. No matter what you do, hunt safe, hunt ethically, and good luck on your next adventure.