LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Crows – they are everywhere in Arkansas, they are extremely plentiful, and they offer hunting opportunities on both public and private land.
Another factor with crow hunting is the birds are a challenge, every bit as demanding of hunter skills as ducks, doves and other birds.
Most farmers regard crows as pests, so this can be a tip for finding a place to hunt them. Ask a farmer or other landowner for permission. You don't even need to offer a share of what you take. Very few people will welcome a gift of a mess of crows.
Crow hunting dates are set by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission but under federal parameters since the birds are classed as migratory. Crow season opened Sept. 3 and will run through Feb. 24, but hunting is five days a week. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are closed.
Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. There is no limit on crows.
Crows may not be hunted with rifles or pistols larger than .22 caliber rimfire or with muzzleloaders larger than .40 caliber unless a modern gun or muzzleloading deer season, bear season or coyote season is open. Crows may not be hunted with shotguns using rifled slugs or shot larger than T shot. Crows may not be hunted over bait.
Electronic callers are allowed, and these are regarded as necessities by many experienced crow seekers.
Arkansas crow hunters fall into two general categories. One is people wanting to hone their skills in the off season. The other is people who find it an enjoyable and different game from other types of hunting.
Any type shotgun works for crows, and they don't have to be plugged to a 3-round maximum. Some crow hunters go for medium chokes since shooting can be anywhere from very close to way out there. No. 7 ½ shot is a popular choice, and No. 8 works well also.
Calls, electronic or hand-blown, are used and you'll find a few Arkansans who can simply imitate a crow with mouth only.
Decoys are suggested – two to a half-dozen crow decoys and perhaps an imitation great horned owl, a traditional enemy of crows. Put the decoy owl on a fence post or a branch of a tree with decoy crows nearby, and you may not have to call if crows are in the vicinity.
Finding a crow roost is a major plus. The birds are habitual, using the same paths to and from the roost. Set up near this route, put out the decoys and hide well then wait.
In the crows' favor, though, are their extreme wariness and excellent eyesight. Some hunters regard crows as highly intelligent. Fool them once, and they're gone for the day is a common belief. Some hunters shoot into a group of crows, see the survivors leave then they stay put and wait for a new group to show up. Other hunters will change locations after a flurry of shooting at one bunch.
With electronic callers, the sound volume can be controlled from soft to extremely loud. A common technique is to set up with decoys and a blind or other concealment, wait a few minutes then call at high volume. When crows are seen in the distance, back off on the sound, lowering it to a normal crow sound.
Crows may also respond to injured rabbit calls. If you have an owl decoy, don't bother with trying to do an owl call, hunters advise. Just the sight of the owl is enough to get the birds stirred up and coming in. A lone crow may come to the call first. This is a scout. Hunters suggest not shooting the first arrival but letting the main group get within range.
Full camouflage is vital for crow hunters. Some believe crow hunting requires as serious attention to camouflage as turkey hunting does.