- by Ligia Brubaker + the hunting community
In this article, we will discuss legal aspects, techniques of successful crow hunting (calling, camouflage, proper guns, gear, habits and flyways of the crow, decoys and decoy set up), field dressing and recipes. This article is a mix of my experience, different resources I found available online and some of our customer's experiences. We have quite a few crow hunters here in the PNW. For many of us crow hunting can be as challenging and rewarding as any type of hunting that exists. Crows are counted among the most intelligent and well sighted birds that exist. At the same time, especially when multiplied without control, they are a destructive animal. Crows will dig seed out of the ground, will eat in farmers cornfields and the pecan trees that grow so rarely in WA state are one of their favorite meals. LEGAL ASPECTS Crow hunting is practiced across the globe. In WA state, it is unlawful to hunt for or take predatory birds without a hunting license except as allowed under RCW 77.36.030. However, it is lawful to take crows during established hunting seasons and crows or magpies when found committing or about to commit depredations upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, livestock, or wildlife, or when concentrated in such numbers and manner as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance provided that none of the birds, or their plumage, be offered for sale. TECHNIQUES & GEAR A quality pair of binoculars to help locate distant crows are a must. By viewing and studying their flight patterns you can best determine an optimal site for your decoy setup. Once this is determined you can use these "flyways" as great ambush sites, as crows relate to given flyways. During early spring when crows are nesting, and living in pairs (not groups) no real flyways exist. As summer approaches and the young leave the nest, the crows start forming groups because there is safety in large numbers. Now is when they can be patterned. As winter approaches larger flocks are formed. At night crows will group together for safety in treetops against their enemies such as the great horned owl. These concentrated areas are referred to as the "roost". Hunting a roost in fall and winter is the best.
Some people know, some don't, that crows are mortal enemies with birds of prey, such as hawks, owls, eagles etc. For this reason a good setup of decoys including an owl or hawk decoy mixed with crow decoys is preferred to fool this bird. I have found that the plastic full sized crow decoys work the best. This type of setup works very well with modern electronic calling devices with remote speakers as well as mouth calls for us more experienced crowers.
After being inactive all night, crows are hungry and more aggressive in the morning, than later in the day. They are ready to eat and FIGHT. Most often, at first light, they can be lured in closer to a setup, putting them in deadly shotgun range. As the day wears on they can become more cautious and weary meaning they will come to the setup but many times they will stay high in the air and not be fooled into gun range. With mornings always being a great hunt, the crow can also be hunted during all daylight hours. Locate a flock with a good pair of binoculars, then make your move. Concealment is mandatory. From an aerial view the crow will always have the advantage. Full camo, including face mask, hat, gloves and gun camo is best. (Waving a shiny gun barrel around will most often send them on their way with no shots fired.) Once shots are fired, that location and setup are done, move on. Crows are too smart to be fooled again at that location. For diehards like me, relocate to a new area by glassing and finding more birds, make your setup, then get ready for more action.
Preferred setup sites are those that offer thick cover for human concealment without the obstruction of too many over head trees and limbs. I have hunted a roost in my state that numbers over 100,000 crows. Through my homework I know exactly where they roost. With definite known flyways I know exactly where to setup, about 1/2 mile plus away from the roost. My choice for this scenario is the thick undercover where I can normally put a large tree between me and the incoming birds, because they cannot see me til its too late and it hides my movement. A good morning hunt for me in this area means about a 100 crows won't be coming home tonight. Sometimes semi open fields can be great setup sites if they are on a flyway.
I prefer the small popup camo, loose netted hunting blinds. There are times on very, very windy days, crows fly naturally low to the ground, (in gun range) coming to and from the roost. On these occasions no decoys are needed, one should immediately find concealment under these paths and good luck trying to keep you gun full of shells. As one wave comes and goes the next is sure to be right behind. I have had over 1 1/2 hour non stop shoots during these times. This is the exception when you do not have to get up and relocate because they will use their flyway no matter what and the crows that haven't gotten there yet have not heard the previous shots.
For me, my Remmington Model 1100, in semi automatic, is an excellent firearm choice. When the action is hot a simple pull of the trigger beats pump action in my opinion. Of course I know that pumps are the choice of some hunters, and you should use what ever you are most comfortable with. Crows are not the easiest birds to knock out of the sky. 12 gauge has the power for me. Shot number 4 is my preferred BB size as it has the power to break bone at further distances giving me a 40-50+ yard advantage. Full choke works best to keep the pattern tight. A crow coming towards you is easier to down than the ones that are trying to fly away, but, the 4 shot will give you more distance as they try to escape.
RECIPES You've got your crows. Now what? Well, crows can be safely eaten. They are considered edible birds, which means that they provide nutrition and will not cause illness when consumed. They are not tasting bad either, but their taste varies greatly depending on how they are prepared rather than what their actual taste. However, a natural prejudice has prevented most crow hunters from even considering this bird as wild game. The members of the Corvid family are as tasty as most other game birds and even tastier than some.
Historically, crows, as well as other non-songbird species have been common fare. Our revulsion seems to center around the fact that the crow and its close relatives are scavengers. At the same time, we find it totally acceptable to consume pigs, chicken, Blue Crabs, Lobsters and other scavengers.
In short, it is our cultural prejudice that limits our possibilities. The color might have to do with it as well. But in Lithuania, for instance, crow meat is considered a traditional natural aphrodisiac and a male potency, so crow pies are a common dish. (Since I am a woman, I cannot confirm or deny it.) Field Preparation Crows can weigh anywhere from 12 to 57 ounces (337 to 1,625gr) live weight, but even the biggest crow doesn't make much of a meal. However, the fact that it is often possible to take large numbers at a time can compensate for this. Since a morning shoot can easily net from 10 to 100 birds, you want to limit the amount of time necessary to clean each bird. Put out of your head any idea of plucking a crow like you would a goose or duck. Besides the breast meat, unless you are starving, there isn't enough edible meat on a crow to make it worthwhile. In case you are starving, you can pretty much eat everything except the guts (including organs like brain, heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, sweet bread). Nothing will harm you, but the effort required to obtain this meat is not worth our first world time. Other countries, less spoiled and blessed, consume everything except the guts - including the feet. Using the technique described below, you can extract the best meat of a crow within a minute or two with very little mess.
Lay the crow on it's back in front of you with it's head pointed to the right.
Take a finger and locate where the breast bone meets the upper abdomen.
With a sharp knife, make a cut across the crow (wing to wing) below the breast bone. Don't be concerned about cutting too deep, no edible meat will be damaged with this cut.
Holding the birds feet with your left hand, place 2 or 3 fingers under the skin where the cut was made and pull in opposite directions. The skinless breast meat should now be exposed.
Take the knife again and separate each breast half away from the bone starting in the middle and working outward. You should end up with 2 lime sized pieces of crow breast. Discard the remains properly.
Lay crow on ground breasts up.
Place feet on wings as close to the body as possible.
Grab the the legs, one in each hand and pull straight up. This will leave you with the breasts and wings.
Cut off wings.
Cut breasts in half.
The results of a quick morning hunt ready for the freezer or the skillet.
This batch took about ten minutes to clean. Looks like real food once the feathers are off, doesn't it? Pre-Cooking Preparation: Marinate, Marinate, Marinate! You can use this method with crows, coots, diver ducks and just about any fowl that may have a strong flavor. Use as many breasts as you decide to grill and soak them from 2 hours to overnight in salt water then thoroughly rinse and dry the breasts. Then use your favorite brand of Italian dressing and put enough to coat the bottom of a container you can put a lid on and put a layer of breasts, a layer of dressing, and keep layering till all the breasts are in the container. Finally, top off with dressing and put in fridge over night. The next day they will be tender and tasty. As far as crow meat recipes go, below are the most common recipes across Europe and U.S.. Feel free to try these or to experiment with your own creation - but bare in mind that the way you prepare the meat will easily change the taste. There is no reason why any recipe for dove, quail or grouse to be found in a wild game cookbook would not work just as well. Enjoy! Summer Crow Kabobs Ingredients
16 pieces of crow breast meat (no bones) (8 crows)
16 pieces of green pepper
16 cherry tomatoes
8 button mushrooms
8 ears of sweet corn
1 1/2 cups of Teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup melted butter
8 kabob skewers Preparation
Cut each piece of crow in half and place in a covered bowl with the Teriyaki sauce over night. Clean and cut each ear of corn into 3 pieces. Cook in boiling salt water for 10 minutes. Alternately put corn (3 pieces), green peppers (3 pieces) and cherry tomatoes (3) along with 4 pieces of crow meat on each skewer. Use 1 mushroom to top each skewer. Brush with melted butter and place on preheated grill for about 4 minutes. Flip, butter again and place back on grill for another 4 minutes. Repeat one last time for a total of 12 minutes or until they appear done. Serves four adults. Country "C" Medallions Ingredients
24 pieces of crow breast meat (no bones) (12 crows)
2 medium onions (chopped)
6 tblsp of oil
5 slices of bacon (chopped)
1 big or 2 small turnips (peeled & chopped)
1/3 of celery root (peeled & chopped) - note: substitute with celery
3 tblsp wet mustard
1 tblsp lemon juice
salt, pepper to taste
dash of paprika
2 bay leaves
2 juniper berries - note: substitute with allspice
1 tblsp Majorjam (crushed)
1 heaping tblsp of mayonnaise
Saute onions and bacon in oil until golden. Add meat, spices and saute some more. Add vegetables and the rest of the ingredients except mayonnaise. Add enough water to keep the meat almost covered. Simmer slowly, adding water as it evaporates. In about 3 hours you will see that the meat is soft enough to cut with a fork. Take the meat out and place on heated platter or dish to keep warm. Remove the bay leaf and put all the gravy (about 2 cups) in a blender and blend. When thoroughly blended, add mayonnaise and blend shortly.
Add gravy to meat and serve over rice with a winter salad. Serves four adults. Pan Fried Crow
seasoned bread crumbs or flour
oil or bacon grease Preparation
Remove breast meat from as many crows as desired. Beat with meat mallet (for tenderizing). Dip pieces in beaten egg and then in bread crumbs or flour. Fry in oil in hot skillet. Bacon grease can be substituted by can smoke. Leave inside a tad pink. Crow Creole
2 medium onions
2 fresh chilies chopped
2 ribs celery
3 cloves garlic minced
1/4 pound butter
16oz. chicken broth
1 can whole tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1/2 tablespoons garlic sauce
1/4 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 pound (12 pieces, or so) crow breast chopped into bite-sized pieces Preparation
Brown the crow breasts in a skillet with butter or oil. When browned, place them in a Saute onion, celery, chilies and garlic in butter until tender. Add the above ingredients and all of the remaining ingredients to a crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.
To serve, heap about 1 cup of rice in the center of the plate, and ladle a generous amount of the sauce around it. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Crow Casserole Ingredients
12 pieces of crow breast meat (no bones) (6 crows)
2 quart sauerkraut
6 slices of bacon
1/3 cup of chopped onions Preparation
Brown the crow breasts in a skillet with butter or oil. When browned, place them in a casserole dish on 1/2 inch layer of sauerkraut. Lay a 1/2 strip of bacon on each 1/2 breast and sprinkle the onion on them. Next, add another layer of sauerkraut and some of the juice. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Makes 2 servings. Crock Pot Crow Ingredients
12 - 16 pieces of crow breast meat (no bones) (6 - 8 crows)
2 cups barbecue sauce
1 cup water
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/3 cup of chopped onions
1/3 cup of chopped green peppers
salt and black pepper to taste Preparation
Shred crow breasts into as small pieces as possible. Add to crock pot with all other ingredients. Cook in crock pot for 6 hours on low. Serve over rolls or bread. Makes 4 servings. Crow In A Blanket Ingredients
4 pieces of crow breast meat (no bones) per person
salt and black pepper Preparation
Rub each crow breast piece with salt and pepper. Wrap each piece with a strip of bacon and place 2 wrapped pieces in aluminum foil. Cook at 300 degrees for 2 hours. Serve hot with steamed wild rice, generously buttered. BBQ Crow Ingredients
10 crow breasts
Tabasco sauce Preparation
Place crow meat in a deep pan. Pour as much BBQ and Tabasco sauce as desired over the crow meat. Let marinate for at least 2 hours. Slice onions into thin slices and push out the centers to make rings. Place onions in skillet and place crow breasts over onions. The two flavors will combine while cooking. Put skillet on stove and cook until onions are brown and meat is tender. Serve crow over the onions. Crow Stew Ingredients
20-24 crow breast pieces (10-12 crows)
1 bag of celery
2 pounds of baby carrots
2 cans of beef consume
1 cup flour Preparation
Chop up celery and onions. In a crock pot, place two alternating layers of meat -onions -celery -and carrots. Pour both cans of consume into pot. Let cook for 6-10 hours. A half hour before you are ready to serve, remove about 5-6 cups of liquid and mix with 1 cup of flour for a thickener. Mix all contents (stew & thickener) well. Let stand for half an hour, season with salt & pepper to taste, and enjoy. This recipe works well with almost all game (and non-game) animals. Some that I have tried are Deer, Squirrel, Rabbit, Pigeon, Duck, Goose, Bear, and Beaver. Grilled Crow Ingredients
16 pieces of crow breast meat (no bones) (8 crows)
16 pieces of jalapeno peppers (or banana peppers)
16 strips of bacon
1 1/2 cups of Teriyaki sauce Preparation
Place breast meat in a covered bowl with the Teriyaki sauce over night. Cook the breasts in boiling water for about five minutes. Cut up fresh jalapeno peppers into circles (or use the store bought kind that come in jars). Place one jalapeno pepper in the center of each breast and wrap with bacon. Secure the bacon with a round toothpick. Cook on the grill until bacon is crisp (not burned). Flip the breasts constantly to avoid the fat catching on fire. Use banana peppers for people that don't like their food quite so hot. Serves four adults. Crow Bean Roast (Southern Cuisine) Ingredients
6-8 Fresh Crow Breasts
1 - 2lb. Package of Red Beans (pinto beans)
Cooking oil or Bacon grease
Chopped Bell Peppers
Garlic powder or garlic salt
Place a tablespoon of Cooking Oil or Bacon Grease in a crock pot, add a tablespoon of Baking Soda, pour the beans in and fill the crock pot 1/2 - 3/4 full of water and stir to mix the baking soda and oil. Add the crow breasts and add the other ingredients (amounts determined by taste preference). Finish filling with water, turn crock pot to high setting and allow to cook for a minimum of 6 hours, adding water as needed. Serve hot.
The crow can be found globally and there are very high numbers of them in the US. If you have not yet experienced the thrill of a crow hunt yet do yourself a favor as it doesn't require a large investment and it is such a thrilling adventure! If at first you don't succeed, you have probably been spotted by these wise birds, learn from the experience and try again. With a good setup and proper concealment you should be very successful. Always remember to check the laws, regulations, and designated seasons of your state and most of all, HAVE FUN!!! Please include the younger generation with you on your crow hunts to keep this tradition alive!