As we shift gears into spring and summer outdoor activities, many are anxious for September and opportunities for upland bird hunting. Personally, I’m happy with fly-fishing Montana’s rivers and streams for a few months. Autumn will come on its own schedule and it’ll be soon enough.
Still I get regular reminders about upland hunting, thanks to the internet. For the last year or so I’ve been getting regular emails Project Upland, a new hunting magazine. I don’t, at least not yet, subscribe to the magazine, but I get regular emails with hints on dogs, guns, birds, hunting videos, and the like, all promoting upland hunting and, of course, their new magazine. If you want to check it out, go to https://projectupland.com.
Last week, the Project Upland email suggested crow hunting as a way of maintaining shooting skills through the off-season, as well as having fun and, yes, putting food on the table.
Andrea Crider, the author of the crow-hunting article, boosts crow hunting from several viewpoints, such as controlling some damage that crows inflict by raiding nests of other birds, along with crop depredation. In addition, crows respond to decoys and calling and it’s a lot like calling in ducks and geese in fall.
As for eating crow, she points out that besides being a metaphor for being humbled, crow meat is quite similar to duck and you can use the same recipes for crow that you use for waterfowl.
Before you start organizing a crow hunt, don’t do it in Montana. According to a spokesperson for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, crows are protected in Montana and are not open to general hunting.
Still, thoughts of shooting crows jogged my memory and sent me to the bookcase for The Trickiest Thing in Feathers, a compilation of bird hunting stories by the late Corey Ford. Corey Ford had a long and productive career as a writer and humorist from the 1920s to his death in 1969.
From the outdoors perspective, he’s now probably best remembered for his series of columns, The Lower Forty, short for The Lower Forty Shooting, Angling, and Inside Straight Club, that ran in Field & Stream magazine for many years, telling stories of his cast of characters, many based on a real circle of friends, in his rural New England community.
While most of the book’s stories are about quail, turkeys, ruffed grouse, and English setters, there is a chapter, “Wingshooting in Your Own Backyard,” on hunting crows.
Ford wrote about hunting crows as a challenging though often-productive pastime. He tells of using a tame crow as a decoy, but also wrote of capturing a feral cat and tying it up in a clearing and shooting at crows that swarm around to attack the cat.
The author hated feral cats and a following chapter is titled “Tiger Hunting for the Man of Modest Means.”But he concluded his crow story, “Not only will you get good shooting…but you can top your sport at the day’s end by shooting the cat.”
Finally, during this Easter season of miracles, I had a modest miracle as well.
On one of the few nice days in early April I took another trip to the Madison River for some fly-fishing. Unlike the first outing, when I teased a whole bunch of little rainbows, this time I got skunked, and I called it a day when gusting winds almost blew me over.
I drove home and after letting my wife know I was back I went out to the garage to unpack my gear, with the unsettling thought, quickly confirmed, that I didn’t remember throwing my wading boots back in the truck after taking off my waders.
It was too late to go back to the river, but we were going to Bozeman the next day for a symphony concert, so we took the scenic route along the Madison and, happily, my boots were still where I left them.
The good lord blesses the pure in heart, but occasionally protects fools, as well.