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Stalking the murder

1/15/2014

A woman sits in the schoolyard puffing away on a cigarette as her daughter attends school. Some crows begin to gather behind — unbeknownst to the woman. Two or three at first, but soon they start arriving in droves — murders, as a flock is called. One crow catches her eye while in midflight, so she follows its flight until it lands on the playground that has amassed hundreds of others. In terror she flees toward the school.

A crow hunter took this photo of two decoy crows that hunters use to lure their prey.

A crow hunter took this photo of two decoy crows that hunters use to lure their prey.

The classic scene from Hitchcock’s “Birds” is a fitting example of why Iowa has a crow-hunting season, and for the next 77 days, it’s those pesky black birds that should be worried.

“If you haven’t tried crow hunting, give it a try,” urged Aron Arthur, conservation officer with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “It can be challenging and sometimes offers a lot of shooting opportunity that tests your skills.”

As with any form of hunting, there is a certain stigma that surrounds the killing of an animal. This is especially true when one considers that there really is no monetary value in crows, and few, if any, are clamoring for crow stew (though there are many recipes online). This is what makes crow hunting a sensitive topic that hunters are all too familiar with.

“Many crow hunters do not care to disclose much about the sport due to some of the potential backlash from others who disagree with it,” said Jerry, who’s been hunting crow for about six years.

Look at the facts surrounding the American Crow (the common crow seen around most North America), he said. They are known to be destructive to cropland, a nuisance to urban areas, extremely aggressive toward the beloved songbirds, ducks and other wildlife, and are potentially a carrier of disease, including the Wes Nile virus, according to Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Penn State University. Lastly, crows are in absolutely no danger of going extinct. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources puts the species in the “Least Concern” category.

But despite its pesky qualities, something all hunters can agree on is that crows are incredibly cunning. They have extremely good senses (eyesight and hearing) and, combined with their ability to communicate with one another in very complex ways, the crow can be very difficult to fool or lure into shooting range.

“I admire and respect the crow as a fascinating creature and worthy adversary, but I do also feel that they are really pretty disgusting based on the things they will eat, the damage they will do and the innocent wildlife they will maraud and destroy,” Jerry said.

Like Hitchcock depicted, the crow is ever present, lurking in trees and on buildings overhead, while never really drawing the eye.

“Crows, like all wild animals, are a very smart bird and can be a challenging wing shooting opportunity,” Arthur said. “It also is a good opportunity to introduce somebody to the great outdoors and hunting that is fairly inexpensive.” CV

David Rowley is an Iowa native with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Iowa and a master’s in film journalism from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Hunting crow: Things to know
Crow seasons runs from Jan. 14–March 31, with no shooting hour restrictions and no daily bag or possession limits.
Typical weapon is a 12-gauge shotgun with an average-sized birdshot.
Purchase a hunting license license, learn of hunting regulations, safety and education, and view an interactive hunting atlas showing all public hunting grounds online at www.iowadnr.gov. (Hunting license and habitat fee required.)
 
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