Crow Busters

Crow Busters - Beginner Techniques

Crow Busters

How can you tell when a crow is insane?

When it's a raven

Guns & Gearfor Crow Hunting

Firearms & Ammo  |  Calls & Callers  |  Decoys  |  Miscellaneous Gear

Firearms & Ammo

One of the great things about crow hunting is that it gives you a chance to keep your reflexes honed during the off season. With this in mind, it's only natural that you would choose your field gun for hunting crows. Or perhaps you would like to test your favorite trap or skeet gun in the field. Any shotgun can be used to hunt crows, but remember, all guns are not created equal when it comes to hitting these tricky targets.

A 12 gauge is the most popular firearm for crow hunting, bar none. A 20 gauge can be effectively used and is more economical, but the smaller the barrel diameter, the more you will tend to handicap yourself in the field. The 10 gauge can also be carried to the crow blind, but can be costly and a bit unwieldy. Any action type will work, but the very nature of crow hunting means shooting at multiple targets, so having more than one shell in the magazine can be a big advantage. A reliable semi-automatic is perfect, but a good pump or even a double will do the trick. The advantage of the pump or automatic is that important third follow up shot. The only other consideration in selecting a shotgun for hunting crows is camouflage. If your gun has a high gloss finish and/or reflective surfaces, some effort should be made to cover or dull it before going afield.

Choke selection comes down to personal preference and field conditions of course. However, advancements in modern shotshell manufacturing have changed the way most experienced crow shooters feel about choke selection. The experts generally use a Modified or Improved Cylinder choke for both decoying and pass shooting crows and are experiencing kills out to 60 yards using quality shells. The tendency is for beginners to over-choke there guns and experience disappointing results.

Both high and low brass ammo can be used to hunt crows, but high brass is not necessary. Although #6 shot has been a historically popular choice, a quality load of # 7 1/2's or even #8's is all that it takes to bring down a crow and is dynamite on decoying birds. For best results, stick with the higher quality shells instead of the bargain promotional shells often sold and you will likely experience better patterns.

Calls & Callers

There are basically two types of crow calls, electronic and hand. Each have a place in crow calling and very often their use overlaps.

Hand calls are inexpensive, easy to carry and are easily mastered by most crow hunters. Most are made of plastic or some hardwood and utilize a plastic or metal reed. Picking a hand call is a matter of personal preference, but there are some features to be considered. Try to find a call that is not too "windy", meaning a call that requires a lot of air to blow. Crow hunting, unlike most other types of game calling requires extended calling with a lot of volume. A "windy" call will wear you out in a hurry. Also, look for calls that have a movable as opposed to a fixed reed. This will allow you to tune the call to produce a range of sounds from the high falsetto of a young bird to the guttural rasp of an old-timer. Watch out for calls that have reeds that easily stick to the mouthpiece, they will probably fail in cold weather. In fact, it is a good idea to have more than one call available, since you can immediately switch over to the spare in case of a problem. Since it is difficult to hold a call while shooting, make sure the mouthpiece is notched for secure gripping by your teeth.

One of the greatest advancements to crow hunting was the development of the electronic caller in the late 1950's. The first models were simply portable phonographs, but they did a good job of attracting crows and allowed for hands free shooting. They could also produce the sounds of multiple crows simultaneously, something difficult to do with a single hand call. Since then, they have evolved into either the cassette based or the digital based unit. The cassette based unit simply utilizes pre-recorded cassette tapes of various types of crow calling. The chip based digital system has no moving parts and uses a digitally recorded computer chip to produce crow sounds. Both are powered by rechargeable batteries and can produce a great deal of volume. Though being more to transport than a pocket sized call, electronic callers can be combined with the flexibility of mouth calls for an extremely effective calling effort. Novice crow hunters will experience fun results with these units right off the shelf. Callers that produce good volume that is distortion free are the most desirable units for effective crow calling.


Modern crow decoys fall into two categories, silhouette and full bodied. Both types will attract crows, but each has advantages and disadvantages.

The silhouette decoy is currently being sold by only one manufacturer. However beginners can construct them at home by tracing the outline of a crow on cardboard or thin plywood, cutting them out, and then spray painting with a solid coat of flat black. You can then glue a sharpened Popsicle stick or dowel to the decoy to be used for pushing into the dirt. Due to the fact that the color black tends to cause objects to appear three dimensional, these homemade decoys work quite well. They can be made for pennies, are easy to carry and can be quickly set up. However, they are not as durable (especially the cardboard creations) as hard plastic decoys and are difficult to use in trees. They also tend to blow over in a strong wind.

Full bodied decoys are the most realistic and durable and set up very quickly. However, they are the most costly and bulky. Be sure to purchase the type that has the small eye hole on the top of the decoy for pulling them up into the trees when necessary.

If you intend to set up a crow vs. owl scene, you will also need an owl decoy. Most commercial owl decoys resemble the Great Horned Owl and are made of hard plastic. Often these can be found at a local garden store.

Miscellaneous Gear

A few additional items can be a help when crow hunting. First, you will need a heavy duty storage bag (preferably camouflage) for carrying decoys, shells, your lunch, etc. Optionally, a portable folding stool will really be appreciated when sitting in a blind all morning. A machete and/or a limb trimmer can be used to help create a natural blind and remove limbs that would restrict shooting. And finally remember to bring plastic bags to pick up any empty shells and dead crows.

Weather, Blind Setup and Location

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