Here in Nova Scotia – following the American example, perhaps – we have a season for crow hunting. If you check the regulations booklet provided with your hunting license, you’ll discover that this season runs from September 1 to March 31.

Why a special season for crows? This bird has never been protected and has always had nuisance and minor predator status. At one time it was open season on crows and it was legal to hunt them any time.

Actually, the designation of a crow hunting season from September to March is misleading and inaccurate. The hunting regulations also say crows may be “taken or killed” any time of year by an owner/occupier of a property or an agent of the owner/occupier. Provided that crows are damaging property – and I suppose picking at young corn, roosting in an ornamental tree or depositing droppings on rooftops would apply here – a landowner could give anyone permission to hunt these birds at any time. In other words, if you wish to hunt crows other than in that silly designated season, convince a landowner those pesky birds are destructive and offer to act as his agent.

If you’re a non-hunter or a hunter who has never gotten into bagging crows, you may ask why anyone would bother wasting time and ammunition on a bird unlikely to end up as a game dinner. This is a reasonable question and as a longtime crow hunter, I believe I can provide an answer.

Except for the metaphorical bird, crows are said to be inedible and no one hunts them to put meat on the table. Like sporting clays, trap and skeet and other games played at gun clubs, crow shooting has sporting elements. There’s the challenge of shooting at a moving, evasive target and the added element of using calls and decoys. Successful hunters have an extensive knowledge of crows and usually are expert callers. Experienced hunters understand the various calls crows use when communicating and are able to imitate them.

Aside from the sporting aspect, there’s a good reason why crow hunting is important. Many hunters rack shotguns at the end of the upland, waterfowl season and never use them again until the next season. Hunters who do this are usually rusty and often it takes weeks before their shooting is up to scratch. A lot of ducks, grouse and pheasants are crippled and lost by hunters who are out of shooting practice – hunters who would have been better with some off-season shooting.

Off-season practice is a conservation measure, a guarantee that your game bird hunting will be more effective. One of the best ways to get that practice is crow hunting. Unlike clay pigeon shooting at the gun club, crow hunting embodies all the elements of real game bird hunting… with calling, decoying, camouflaging and a lot of feathers thrown in for good measure.

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