I was thinking about my hunting plans, and what I have to look forward to as the seasons kick in. So far this year I’ve been out several times for rabbits, squirrels, pest birds (pigeons, Eurasian doves and starlings), coyote, and all kinds of game over in SA. I’ll be hitting the small game all over the country between now and feb/march (when it starts shut down). On the books I’ve got a whitetail/hog/squirrel hunt down in Alabama, a blackbuck/hog/predator hunt in West Texas, more deer in Missouri, and finally ……. Javalina in Arizona! Worth noting is that this is the first year that airguns for deer will be legal in Alabama, and most big game will be allowed to be taken with airguns in Arizona! I’ve wanted a legal javalina with an air rifle for many, many years…. and finally I’ll get the chance!
Besides these hunts I’ll be going after crows throughout the winter. This is a great airgunning challenge, crows are very receptive to calls and will come in from far and wide to a mob call, but getting them to land takes some finesse. I was thinking back to a morning on a winter past when I headed out for a couple of hours of crow hunting carrying the FX Monsoon semiautomatic .22 caliber precharged pneumatic air rifle, a tin of JSB Exacts, and my FOXPRO Wildfire electronic call. I got to my site at 6:30 to the sound of a few distant crows cawing and the sun starting up. I parked and hiked across a cut corn field and into a stand of trees separating this plot of land from another field. I set the call at the border of the field and tucked myself in to the base of bramble twenty yards down and ten feet into the trees and cranked up the call.
I started with a crow fight sound, and within a few minutes a murder of crows soaring over head. With my shotgun I’d have been dropping them all around, but armed with my air rifle I sat and waited for one to land. As I waited, I looked overhead and saw a crow perched straight overhead. Branches were in the way of his body, but he had his head stuck out in the clear looking into the field. I lined up the crosshairs and squeezed the off the shot, and at the muffled discharge (this gun is very quiet) the crow folded, bouncing through the branches and almost falling on my head. The stock on this rifle is very ergonomic, and I find it is comfortable to shoot offhand from just about any position.
I muted the call and spiked the crow in the field to use as a decoy, then sat back and started the fight call again. And again, the crows started circling overhead, but would not land. I let the fight call die down, then switched to a dying crow sound at a lower volume, at which another crow glided in and landed in the tree right next to me. Again shooting almost straight up I pulled the trigger and a second crow dropped.
Gathering up my gear and collecting the birds, I hiked about a mile down the dirt road until I reached a stand of woods of about ten acres, and worked my way through the thorny vines well into cover. Starting up the fight sound for a couple minutes until hearing a response, I then changed up to an injured crow call. Crows started flying in and three approached looking like they would land, but veered off at the last minute. Then one landed and I shot, but this crow spun on the branch hanging upside down while weakly flapping his wings. A second bird landed and started pecking at its dying comrade, where a quick follow up anchored him.
I waited a little longer but no more birds landed, so I packed up and hiked back to the car for the drive home. I got to the house, unloaded my gear, took a quick shower, and was in my office by 9:00 for a day of work. A great thing about airguns is that because they are quiet and have limited range, they let you hunt closer to home. The calls I used in my FOXPRO worked well, but I am going to extend the call dictionary for more crow sounds, getting the birds to land takes a lot more finesse than shotgunning. The Monsoon is a superb hunting gun that I really enjoy hunting with; it is powerful, accurate, quiet, and fires in semi auto for those fast follow up shots. The last crow I shot would not have been possible without the fast follow up this gun offered. Tomorrow is Saturday and belongs to my family….. but I think I’ll get up while they’re having a sleep in. I can get out for a quick repeat, and be home with my hunting fix taken care of before anybody else crawls out of bed!
So besides the small game, predators, deer, hogs, javalina, and exotics, my future holds a lot of field time sorting out the crows. Seasons are long, bag limits high, challenges great, and fun is off the chart. To be effective I highly recommend an electronic call, and my experience hunting in the snow with snow camo is the most productive approach. Crows are tough and while a moderate power .22 is good, a higher power .25 better, I expect the .303 will shine in this application…. I’ll report on the results as I gain experience.
I’m registered for SHOT Show in January, which is always a high point in the winter for me. I get the chance to see what’s new, line up my airgunning projects for the new year, and run around with nothing on my mind but airguns for a few days! It’s also a chance to meet up with my editors, and some of the media types I’ve gotten to know over the years, and lots of my friends from hunts, shoots, and other capers over the years.
Also getting ready for the Extreme Bench Rest competition down in Tucson, it is going to be big time fun this year. I suspect there will be some guys with bullpups that have something to show, and after last years showing, probably lots of guys with .303’s! If your thinking about attending to either watch or compete, I’d say get off the fence and sign up! This is one of the most fun events to be found in the airgunning world where your a master or a plinker.