The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa on October 3, 1967 · Page 21
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The Algona Upper Des Moines from Algona, Iowa · Page 21

Algona, Iowa
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 3, 1967
Page 21
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A north wind blew its cold breath down our necks as we crouched low on the crest of the hill. We were hunkered down behind a fenceline where we had woven cornstalks and sticks between strands of barbed wire to make a blind. We watched off in the distance as several black specks materialized over a grove of oak trees. "They're coming our way," my companion said. "Don't move a hair, and let them get in close before you shoot." The birds pumped up the hill of corn stubble toward us. They were low, fighting the wind that whistled down at them. They were almost within shotgun range when suddenly they swung upwards and rode the wind back toward the oak trees. "Something spooked them," my hunting pal said, and though I didn't tell him, I knew that the slight movement of my hand toward the trigger of the shotgun had been enough to "goof" our shooting. It doesn't take much to goof our kind of hunting, because we were after Mr. Corvus brachyrhynchos, that super intelligent professor of the feathered world, otherwise known as the crow. An hour before, we had toted decoys across the muddy field and hung them in nearby trees. We also placed some of them in the field in front of the blind. The blind was located on a flight line that the crows used to get to a roosting site after feeding forays over farming area. We wore camouflage gear, complete down to veils that dropped over our faces. The wind was strong and in the right direction to keep the birds low. It was, in fact, an ideal set up; and if I could remember to keep my itchy trigger finger from moving ahead of time, we would get shooting. Along with other factors in our favor, we had with us a healthy respect for crow intelligence; and the hunter who does not possess this had better gun for something stupid like pheasants or ducks. Ring- necks or mallards couldn't pass crow college entrance exams. There are crow hunters who contend that crows can count, and if you go into a blind within sight of a flock, it is necessary to run back and forth in two's and three's until the bird becomes mathematically confused. Only when their subtraction and addition becomes muddled, so the theory goes, will they venture within range of the blind. One aspect of crow mathematics that is never in doubt is its multiplication. Christopher Columbus was the best thing that ever happened to the Ameri- can crow. Since he pointed the way for the White man, the crow has ridden the shirt tails of civilization to ever greater numbers. Much to the consternation of farmers and waterfowl biologists, the crow has managed to carve out a larger and larger niche in the American outdoor scheme of things. Natural crow predators have been removed, and modern land use presents a virtual smorgasbord for the ever hungry crow. The crow diet consists of 70 per cent vegetable matter, and when this vegetable matter is made up of seed that the farmer has just planted, a crop can be nearly destroyed before it has seen the light of day. For this reason, the crow hunter is most often welcomed by the farmer, and the hunt can frequently provide a foundation for friendship that will carry over to other outdoor pursuits. A survey some years ago revealed that crows destroy one-third of the waterfowl egg production in many areas. The black bandit is the greatest cause of waterfowl decline, next to the loss of wetlands. These factors combine to give the crow a reputation as black as its feathers, but the bird seems to thrive on its notoriety. It has developed habits that see it surviving in every corner of the country, from wilderness farms to heavily populated suburbias. The crow likes to nest in a coniferous tree. It builds a rough nest of sticks and twigs 20 to 60 feet up in a tree. From four to six eggs are usually laid. They hatch after 18 days of incubation. The young crows bring with them into the world an appetite that is astounding. The parent birds work from daylight to dark to feed the young; and, understandably, the older birds urge the young to develop flight as soon as possible—within five or six weeks of hatching. An immature bird requires about half its body weight in food each day to keep it going. An adult crow will fill its crop eight or ten times a day. This filling takes a lot of corn. Because the crow is so plentiful and because its villainous ways have put it on every possible "Wanted" list, it is becoming the target for more and more hunters. In this day of shrinking hunting opportunity, what better object of a hunt than a smart, tricky flying character like the crow. There is no one sure way to hunt crows. In addition to the method of intercepting them on their flight lines—to and from roosts, generally—there is the popular combination of decoys and calls. All crow hunting requires careful study of the bird's habits, but decoying and calling demands an even more careful approach. Decoys must be naturally set, and one false squawk on the call will send crows scurrying into the next county. Some crow shooters prefer an electronic call—a small phonograph and amplifier—for this reason. "f V A classic crow decoy set up includes a stuffed or artificial owl, surrounded by crows who appear to be in a frenzy over the presence of their hated enemy. Nothing is more effective in causing the owl to throw its customary caution to the winds. In all forms of crow hunting it is absolutely essential that the hunter be completely hidden. A crow will spook at a hunter's nose if it protrudes too prominently out of a camouflaged face. And, as pointed out earlier, they will flare at the movement of a mere finger. Shooters with the "hot" predator rifles like to take pot-shots at occasional crows, but most of the crow shooting is done with the shotgun. A gun with a modified choke, shooting number six shot is as good a combination as any, but a crow gun can be whatever hangs in your gun closet. The crow, even though it is 20 inches long and weighs about a pound, is a very tricky wing target. They fly normally at between 20 and 30 miles per -hour, but have also been clocked at close to 60. With :their wings grabbing the gusts of a stiff wind, they : are as hard to hit as shadows. Take extra shells along. You are likely to need them. And those birds that you down: take them home and eat them, recommends crow expert and author Nicholas Karas. "When properly prepared, the crow can be as exquisite eating as pheasant or quail," Karas says. Among the recipes he suggests is this one for crow stew: Brown pieces of crow breast and legs in butter or lard. Cover meat generously with raw onions, finely diced, plus one whole kernel of garlic. Add sufficient water to prevent searing and allow to stew for about three hours in a covered cooking utensil. The hunt we started to tell about earlier netted us enough crows for a stew. They came flying up the hill into our guns and we had several hours of fast and furious shooting. You can have the same thing if you will pick the proper spot, hide yourself skillfully behind a good decoy set up ... and remember not to wiggle your trigger finger until it is time to shoot. IN THE HEART OF CHICAGO'S LOOP MEETINGS COME ALIVE WITH EXCITEMENT Year after year, Sherman House is host to many of the most distinguished companies and organizations in America. And not jus) because we have the facilities. Sure We have meeting and banquet rooms to handle groups up to 3000, exhibit halls, seminar rooms, and all the rest. But what makes 'em come back for more are the extras. The excitement of great restaurants, bars, and night club . . . all right in the hotel. Or stepping out on the street Into the glitter of dynamic downtown Chicago. If you want your meeting to be right in the middle of it all-this is the only placet NEW AT SHERMAN HOUSE! New executive suites, exhibit halls and meeting rooms. Send for complete convention details HOUSE IN CHICAGO ATCLARK, RANDOLPH, LASALLE Phone: 312/FR 2-2100 TWX: 312-222-0631 Daniel Amko. V/ee Prei., Safes Manager Patented luck. Remington's patented 'Power Piston" one-piece wad gives you a 1O% better chance to get your game. Carrying a four-leaf clover might improve your shooting luck. But a box of Remington shotgun shells with "Power Piston" is a lot surer. "Power Piston" puts up to 10% more knockdown power in every pattern. And that gives you a 10% better chance to get your game. No mystery. The rounder the shot, the straighter it travels and the harder it hits. "Power Piston" keeps the shot a lot rounder. Keeps pellets from flattening against the inside of the barrel and against each other. So more of them fly true. Up to 10% more. Other people make shotgun shells. But only the Remington people give you the patented luck of "Power Piston". In 12, 16, 20 and 28 gauge "Express" loads. In 12, 16 and 20 gauge "Shur Shot" field loads. «»</* SHOT

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