John's Journal...

Duck Hunting in the Summer

What about Hunting Crows

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: As the hunter wearing lightweight camouflage called excitedly, he could see the reaction from the birds when his notes hit them. The birds spotted the hunter’s decoys and came in over the water as though the caller had them on a string, although he’d put his blind on the bank. The birds, less than 40-yards away, couldn't spot the hunter dressed in full camouflage, including hat, headnet, gloves, shirt and pants. When he came up, the hunter took aim on the lead bird and fired. As two more birds flared, the hunter swung quickly, fired twice and dropped one of the birds, most of which landed on the water. The hunter’s friend also had taken two birds. As the birds flew out of range, both hunters sent their Labrador retrievers to race out of the blind, spring like jackrabbits into the water, swim for the downed birds, pick them up and bring them back to the blind. Once the dogs returned and dropped the birds in the blinds, the first hunter looked at his partner, smiled and asked, "Isn't this the finest duck hunt you've ever had?" The second hunter laughed and answered, "This is great. No one would believe that you could shoot this many birds in onClick to enlargee day in the summertime and have this much duck-hunting fun, out of duck-hunting season without poaching or breaking the law." Summertime duck hunting sounds illegal, and it is. However, by simply changing which bird is hunted, you’ll leave all the other elements of duck hunting in place. These hunters shot crows over water, not ducks.

Before you decide there's not much involved in hunting crows, consider that crows have a complex communication system. Ornithologists have identified 50-different expressions crows make. For instance, the sounds "caw-aw, caw-aw, caw-aw" assure the flocks of safety. The "Kawk, kawk, kawk" sound warns crows of danger. Scientists have found that crows, like parrots, can learn to repeat words and long phrases. Crows with their high intelligence and keen eyesight are hard to fool when you hunt them.

Clever Crows:
A question recently arose in Hamburg and Berlin, Germany concerning the findings of thousands of toad corpses around some ponds. Officials tested thClick to enlargee ponds’ water quality to see if contamination could be the problem, but the results from all the tests came back negative. A local scientist suggests that, "Hungry crows are pecking out the toads' livers." The veterinarian assisting the investigators, who studied the toad corpses, said that the toads' chest areas had been opened, and the livers removed, causing the toads' lungs to puff up and pop. He also said, "It's not unique- it's in a city area and that makes it spectacular." Crows, extremely-smart animals, tend to repeat the actions of other crows as they see them. Scientists conjecture that crows have mimicked what their leader crow does to get food and survive.

History of Crow Hunting:
Crows became such a menace in some Midwestern states that during the 1930s, game and fish departments actually dynamited crow roosts at the requests of landowners. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the U.S. government gave farmers free ammunition to shoot crows. Some towns had roosts with populations of 75,000 to 100,000 crows in the mid-1900s.

Common-Sense Crow Hunting:
The federal government dictates that states only can have a 60-day crow season. Most states have designated their crow seasons to take place in the fall with specific beginnings and endings. But crow hunters, just like duck Click to enlargehunters, rarely if ever hunt all 60 days of the season. If they do, they'll probably take more ducks than they should. However, unlike ducks, there's no shortage of crows. Too, not very many people hunt crows, and in many areas of the South, the crows create more crop damage than the ducks do in the Louisiana rice fields. Crows will walk down corn fields and pick up every grain of corn in a row and strip a field of peanuts the same way. But in the South, crows create the most crop damage in pecan fields – a more than $15-million business per year in many southern states. A large flock of crows can go in and destroy an entire pecan crop. Unlike ducks, crows are not considered welcome visitors.

Alabama's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has set up one of the most-reasonable crow seasons in the nation. Allan Andress, chief of enforcement of Alabama's DCNR, explains, “The federal government says each state can only have a 60-day crow season because crows are migratory birds. Alabama's regulation book states that crows can be hunted all year long, but only for 60-days. To my knowledge, there's never been a report of an Alabama crow hunter hunting crows more than 60 days in one year. We've never caught a hunter violating the 60-day limit, and to my knowledge, we've never issued a ticket to a crow hunter who's hunted more than 60 days. We dictate that crow hunters in Alabama can't hunt more than 60 days. We just let them pick whatever 60 days they want to hunt, a system that has worked very effectively over the years. Some crow hunters have chosen to have a split season. For instance, they may hunt crows for two or three days in the fall, a couple of days in the winter, two or three days in the spring and once again for several days in the summer. As long as they don't hunt more than 60 days in a year's time, crow hunters can split up their seasons in any way they want. We have no indication that crows in the state of Alabama are overhunted; or, that crow hunters are taking too many crows; or, that hunters are violating the rule of hunting crows more than 60 days in a year. That's why we can say hunters can hunt all year long, as long as they don't hunt crows for more than 60 days.” Be sure to check the rules and regulations of the state where you hunt before hunting in the summer, since many states have 60-day crow-hunting seasons between September 1 and January 1.

Tomorrow: Crow-Hunting Tactics with Will Primos

Check back each day this week for more about "Duck Hunting in the Summer"

Day 1: What about Hunting Crows
Day 2: Crow-Hunting Tactics with Will Primos
Day 3: Jerry Tomlin’s Crow-Hunting Techniques
Day 4: More Crow-Hunting Ways with Jerry Tomlin
Day 5: How to Train Your Dogs on Crows for Waterfowl Hunting Later



Entry 407, Day 1