It was 2003 when the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources established a hunting season on crows. Just about every hunter I knew was quick to say, "This is about the dumbest thing they have ever done."
There is no shortage of these things in Randolph County or West Virginia. These statements are very true. The same statements could also be said for just about any location from the Midwestern farm belt states to the East coast. A few weeks ago, I saw a few crows flying over the Elkins City Hall, the Federal Building, and the Randolph County Courthouse on the same day.
In 1918, the Migratory Bird Law between the United States and Great Britain (for Canada) went into effect. This law gave federal protection to just about all migratory game birds in North America, but it did not include crows. In 1936, Mexico was included in this treaty, but crows were still unprotected. In 1972, amendments to this treaty were expanded to include the protection of 63 families of birds common to both Mexico and the United States. Among these included birds of prey and crows. This act makes it illegal to process, transport, or export any migratory bird or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird. This act also requires all states to establish a hunting season on crows, even though it is not considered a game bird in most states which includes West Virginia. The crow however is a national bird in Mexico.
According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (an agency within the U.S. Department of Interior), all states except Hawaii have to establish a crow hunting season under their guidelines.
These guidelines are:
Crows should not be hunted from aircraft.
The hunting season or seasons shall not exceed a total of 124 days within a calendar year.
Hunting shall not be permitted during the peak crow mating and nesting periods within a state.
Crows may only be taken with firearms, bow and arrows and falconry.
Note: Dynamite, poisons and traps are unlawful.
Last year in West Virginia, the crow season started on October 1, 2010 and ended November 20, 2010 with no bag limit. A second season started Jan. 1, 2011, and ended March 5, 2011. There is a provision in the crow law that nuisance crows (those that are destroying gardens, ornamental or shade trees, concentrated to the extent they are a health hazard, or being destructive in any manner) can be killed at any time.
During the summer months, if a person is trying to call crows in with any type of call and using crow decoys, a natural resources police officer would most likely consider this illegal crow hunting.
If a farmer is having a problem with crows, I recommend trying to get a special permit from the DNR.
When I was in the Navy, a good friend of mine from Missouri would hunt crows from a blind using a recording of a crow and owl fight.
Crows do not like owls, not even stuffed ones, and will fly for miles to just plague one.
With this method, my friend was able to take several crows using a shotgun.
Crow hunting regulations vary considerably from state to state. If you plan to go crow hunting in another state, I recommend that you study and know the regulations thoroughly.
We had a pet crow when I was growing up. He was actually my older brother's pet. I did a column of him about two years ago.
That bird was quite a character. He could talk and would tell people passing by to shut up and then follow up on this by cussing them out.
We got him when I was just three years old. I was a senior in high school when I buried him in the back yard.