Something To Crow About

Upstate Outdoors
February 02, 2018 - 5:33 pm
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The long period between the end of deer season and the beginning of turkey season can wear long on some hunters. To pass the time, many focus on other species to hunt such as ducks, hogs, coyotes and small game.

An often overlooked but highly addictive small game hunting species is the crow. Crows have no value as table fare and that may explain why some hunters never consider hunting them. Crows are a known menace to farmers as the unruly birds will flock into an area and have been known to cause substantial crop damage.

Years ago, when the country was more of an agrarian culture, bounties were placed on crows as an attempt to reduce their numbers. Today, crows are hunted simply for sport and the sport has an almost cult-like underground following.

While all public lands are open for crow hunting during small game seasons where permitted, few public lands contain the extended food sources to attract numbers of crows. Most public land hunting will be a matter of “running and gunning” if by chance a hunter locates a gathering of crows in the area and can coax them in to a fighting call.

Gaining permission to hunt private lands used as feeding locations by crows requires a bit of legwork on behalf of the hunter. Farmers and land managers typically view crows as varmints, bent only on damaging crops. However, the increasing popularity of crow hunting may have many places already spoken for or landowners may simply not be conducive to any type of hunting.

Offering to lease land may increase your chances of having private land to hunt but be sure to spend plenty of scouting time to insure the land you are leasing holds favor in the eyes of the birds.

Crow hunting can be broken down into two primary strategies: running and gunning and stationary feeding area hunting. 

Running and gunning involves slipping into a crow-conducive area and creating a ruckus via motion decoys and rally calls that simulate crows battling a predator or invader. This strategy relies on the crow’s fight response to draw them into the conflict, within range of the guns. Often the shooting is fast and furious for several minutes as numerous crows invade the area at once.

Stationary feeding is akin to inland duck hunting minus the water. The hunters stake out a blind near a food source such as a grain field or pecan orchard, use decoys in feeding setups and call in a friendly manner to draw the crows to the gun. In a feeding strategy, crows come in at the rate of one, two, and three at a time and shooting may last for several hours versus several minutes.  

A hunting license and free Migratory Bird (HIP) Permit are required to hunt crows. Crows are migratory birds and as such, are a federally-protected species. The season is based on criteria established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The open season for crows on private lands in South Carolina is Nov. 1 - Mar. 1. There is no bag limit. During the open season on private lands, crows may be taken with any firearm, bow and arrow, or by falconry. 

Crow hunting on WMA lands is permitted. During the open season for small game hunting on WMAs, crows may only be hunted with weapons legal for small game. The use of electronic calls for crow hunting is permitted statewide on private land and WMA land. Crows damaging crops may be taken at any time using non-toxic shot without a federal permit (50 CFR 21.43). Any person acting under this depredation order must provide an annual report to the Region 4 Migratory Bird Permit Office.
Two good resources for obtaining decoys, calls, and other crow hunting gear, as well as offering more information about the sport are crowbusters.com and crowmart.com.


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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM or online at 1063word.com
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Many hunters have discovered the addiction of crow huntig to pass the time between deer and turkey season. Photo by Phillip Gentry.

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