I’d been traveling and upon arriving back home I sat down to catch up on reading my pile of newspapers. Right on the front page of one of the newspapers was a notice of a national emergency (well, kind of an emergency)! It sounds like the crows had migrated in big time over in the Nampa/Caldwell area. While they might not quite as plentiful over in the Pocatello area, you might still be able to kick up enough to make it fun. Besides, it’s winter. What are you doing to do? Sit in the house and rot?
But before you think you can just run out blasting and be successful, beware: Crows have to be close to the smartest birds in the world, but if you do it right you can shoot large numbers of them with the proper set-up. Here’s how I like to do it. If you can find a thick clump of cedar trees not over 10 to 15 feet tall, that’s perfect. If you’re in a grove of trees too tall, the crows will almost be out of range when the come gliding in.
Your tendency is to set up where you can see what is coming. Don’t do that. You want to be buried right in the midst of the brush. If they come flying in and see you, then they’ll flare off and spook. You have to be totally hidden. If you don’t have perfect cover then at least get in under the shadows.
You’ll want to use an electronic call. Set it a little bit away from you so when they come in, they’re not focusing right on you. You’ll want a call with a remote control. That way you can change sounds without running out to switch the call every time.
I always start off with a hawk fighting crow call or an owl fighting crow call. Then you can switch it up some: wounded crow call, crows fighting call, etc. Many times, you hear them coming but just as many times they’ll glide in silently. You’ve got to always be ready. After the shot, they’ll hit the after burners and dip and dive outta there.
You’ll want to be camo’d to the max. Use a face mask or net to conceal your shiny face. Since your hands are the source of 90 percent of your movement make sure and wear camo gloves or at least the old Army wool gloves. Wear camo on top for sure, and pants as well don’t hurt.
Just like on all calling, decoys help immensely. I like to have one if not two Mojo decoys. They’re the ones that have the battery-operated rotating wings. Set them up out in the open and the Mojo boys tell me they work better if they’re set up higher off the ground. Use stationary crow decoys as well if you have some, and an owl or hawk decoy will be good, too.
Also use an attractor decoy. You ask what? Yep. I started noticing a few years ago that right at daylight every morning while calling coyotes that crows are the first varmint to show up. It took a minute or two to register but then it hit me. Why not use a waggler type of attractant decoy on crows? They come in all the time to them while I’m coyote hunting.
On good hunts, it can be fast and furious, so I like using a semi-automatic 12-gauge with a modified Trulock choke and 6-shot. Crows are not good neighbors. They harass a lot of game birds and eat the eggs of ground birds (quail, sage grouse etc.), so it does the environment good to thin them out. Have fun.
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana.