Crow season opens Thursday with a daily bag limit of 15.
The season runs through March 20.
A valid hunting license is required.
Beyond these basic parameters, Wisconsin regulations are in line with similar rules in other states which have been in place since the 1970s. Crow harvest here has nothing to do with wildlife management. It is based on a U.S. treaty with Mexico, centered on importing natural gas from south of the border.
Since the treaty was signed, mind-boggling natural gas reserves have been discovered within U.S. borders. President Trump should consider renegotiating this treaty. Crows are dirty pests, known to carry the West Nile Virus. By treaty, we have promised not to shoot crows during breeding season.
Federal guidelines limit crow hunting to no more than 128 days per year, which do not impact vermin procreation. These guidelines also stipulate crow hunting is to be prohibited at night, with machine guns and from aircraft—a direct impact on Constitutional rights regarding pursuit of happiness for those with a hankerin’ for a night-time raid on a crow roost with a vintage P-51 Mustang.
Back in World War II when the newly designated P-51 was America’s top fighter plane, crows were designated “an enemy of the American people” by Congress. If you pledged to hunt these bandits down, the government would provide a case of shotgun shells—free.
Prior to this war, crows were pursued with even greater gusto. Back in 1940, Illinois offered a bounty on these birds. Flatland shooters harvested more than 328,000 crows that year.
Dynamiting winter roosts used to be a popular means of crow control. Almost 27,000 crows were taken out with a single blast in Oklahoma back in 1937. The last recorded crow bombing occurred in Stafford County, Kansas, in 1952.
We’ve made considerable progress here in Wisconsin since the national trend toward crow genocide prior to the treaty with PeMex back in the ’70s. Besides following federal guidelines protecting these critters during breeding season, we are limited to a daily bag of just 15 crows per day.
No point in being greedy. If Jesus could feed 3,000 with a couple of fish and five loaves of bread, how many persons would 15 crows feed? I’m guessing all of Wisconsin and the U.P. of Michigan, where culinary discretion is not en vogue.
You might be wondering why America’s hard-nosed negotiators agreed to protect crows in the first place. Crows belong to the bird family “Corvidae,” which includes several species of jays. One of these jays has considerable religious meaning to an indigenous sect of Mexicans, so we agreed to protect the whole family.
Seems to me that’s like protecting the entire “Corleone” crime family in Mario Puzo’s Godfather classic, because Robert Duvall plays an Irish consigliere.
Conjecture aside, crow hunting is a hoot! Ironically, “hooters” are a major focal point in one kind of crow hunting setup. Crows hate owls. When a crow sees an owl, caution is thrown to the wind and the crow summons all kin within earshot to the attack. This summons can ripple out for miles.
An owl decoy, several crow decoys and a caller are all that is needed for this setup. I like using both a manual crow call and battery powered digital caller.
A feeding setup is another productive way to attract crows. This requires considerably more crow decoys. You can make a bunch of crow silhouette decoys with a sheet of plywood, a jig saw and some flat black paint.
A road-trip recon is a good way to locate where crows have been feeding. They like to forage for waste grain. An animal carcass holds even more appeal—and greater opportunity to fly off with a host of diseases.
Wisconsin sportsmen have a reasonable aversion to killing just for the sake of killing. Eating crow has never been a desirable thing to do—whether metaphorically or with gravy.
But disease mitigation gives worthwhile purpose to picking up the scattergun and heading into the great Wisconsin outdoors when other hunting options are limited.
Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at email@example.com.