Show Notes:

A mock scrape is a powerful tool for defining deer movement that any hunter of any experience level can use to boost their chances of success. In today’s episode I talk about how you can use mock scrapes to improve your scouting and hunting setup.

Take Aways:

  • Mock scrapes should be placed in areas that deer already move through, or have a reason to move through.
  • Less is more when it comes to scrapes, the fewer you have the more value each has because you do not want to split the attention each gets.
  • The best time to setup a scrape is a few months before the season starts or in the post season.
  • Deer often begin to start using a new mock scrape within a few days or weeks.
  • A scrape can last for years with little to no maintenance. 
  • Scrapes are great places to put a trail camera.
  • All you need is a three step ladder, some black rope, a few zip ties, and a rake.

Show Notes:

When it comes to deer hunting, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of hard work. In this episode I talk about simple and inexpensive trail camera strategies that can completely transform the way you hunt by saving you time and improving your odds of success.

Take Aways:

  • Trail cameras help you do four things.
    1. Know if deer are the area you are considering hunting. You can’t hunt what isn’t there.
    2. How many deer are in the area. This lets you know your odds of success.
    3. What kind of deer are in the area. Whether it’s bucks or does, big or small, you need to know. 
    4. WHEN deer are in the area, so you only hunt when deer are likely to be around.
  • Simple and inexpensive cameras are an ok place to start if you can find the perfect place to put and aim them.
  • Your camera MUST be able to date and time stamp each photo and you MUST set this up to get the full benefit.
  • Put your trail camera above a deer‘s eye level to reduce the odds they will see it.
  • Avoid a deer’s most likely line of sight.
  • Put cameras back from a trail so you don’t need to walk the trail to check them.
  • Here is mid range camera that I’ve had good success with. It can give you a sense of the features to look for. I got mine on sale, the sticker price is a little high.
  • Setup a camera in August and check it every 2-3 weeks. Stop checking at least 2 weeks before you plan to hunt.

Show Notes:

Few game animals can be hunted with such a large variety of firearms as woodchucks, aka groundhogs. On this episode I talk about the best guns to use for the job.

Take Aways:

  • Hands down, the best gun for hunting woodchucks is the one you already have. Start with that, learn to hunt them with the gear you have and then you can expand into other areas once you have some experience and know what you like.
  • If you are going to purchase a gun, or have a variety to choose from, I recommend a bolt action .233 Remington, followed in second place by a bolt action .243 Winchester.
    • The .223 has plenty of power, significant range, is safe in close range, low in cost, very common, and has many ammo choices. 
    • The .223 is also good for hunting hogs, coyotes, foxes, and many medium to small game animals with even the potential to be used on deer at close range.
    • The .243 has more power than you need, but many lower power rounds exist that are good for groundhogs and the rifle is excellent for deer, coyotes, hogs, and possibly even black bear.
    • The .223 is best for small to medium game, and the .243 is best for medium to some larger game, it depends on what else you want to use the rifle for.
  • If you are going to buy something, both of these rifles are very common and can often be obtained used at lower cost.
  • There are certainly other options out there and but for the BEGINNER, I believe these are best for the reasons stated above and more reasons are given during the episode.

Show Notes:

Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs and whistle pigs, may be the single easiest type of game to start hunting. On this episode I talk about how easy it is to get started no matter what equipment you already have. 

Take Aways:

  • Woodchucks in some states can be hunted 12 months a year, with no limits. Any day you can find one, you can hunt it.
  • Though they do hibernate during the 3-6 coldest months of the year depending on where you live.
  • You can use almost any type of firearm to hunt woodchucks if it’s legal in your state. Rifle, shotgun, even handgun.
  • Woodchucks are menaces, their borrows can damage yards, fields, structures, etc. So they are hunted for pest control, not food.
  • You can hunt them up close, at a distance, or at very long range, whatever suits you and your equipment.
  • The only thing you need in Pennsylvania to hunt them is an orange hat and pretty much any gun potent enough to kill them.

Show Notes:

All animals are edible, but not all animals are tasty or healthy. On today’s episode I help new hunters navigate what common game animals are best to eat, which ones are questionable, and which to avoid.

Take Aways:

Almost anything can be palatable if cooked right, and somethings that are very unhealthy can be tasty. So the below classifications take both health and taste into consideration, it is not just a list of the things I like and don’t like. 

  • Best To Eat: Dear, Elk, Moose, Turkey, Pheasants, Grouse, Doves, Quail, Ducks, Geese, Sheep/Rams/Goats
  • Worth Considering: Squirrel, Rabbit, Wild Boar
  • What To Avoid: Crows, Foxes, Coyotes, Raccoons, Beavers, Muskrats, Martins, Fishers, Opossum’s, Woodchucks, Bob Cats, Bears, Porcupines and essentially anything that is a predator or a scavenger.

In the end, do your own research about health, and your own taste testing so you can come to your own conclusions. These recommendations are just a guide to help new hunters get started.

Show Notes:

The number one thing I have seen turn off new or potential hunters is them being pushed or made to feel like they need to hunt in some hardcore way to be successful or accepted. On today’s episode I shine the spotlight on this false, pride driven, and empty nonsense. And no, I’m not mincing any words! 

Take Aways:

  • You should hunt as often as you want, as long as you want, and the way you want in order to get the most enjoyment from the sport.
  • There is no wrong way to hunt unless it negatively impacts other hunters.
  • Hunting longer, harder, and more often does not make you a better person, and does not make you better than anyone else. It adds nothing to you except fun and experience. 
  • Most people who talk about how hardcore they are, are just blowing smoke, they are exaggerating, lying, or just plain trying to make themselves look good.
  • Those who really do hunt hardcore and still talk a big talk are just full of pride, and trying to make themselves sound impressive.
  • Much hardcore hunting is misguided, not strategic, and rather clumsily planned. You can often get better results by hunting smarter and easier.
  • Maybe 1 in 100 new hunters are interested in hardcore hunting, which means you will prevent 99% of new hunters from ever starting by running your mouth.
  • Do what you enjoy because you enjoy it. If you want to hunt harder then do it because you want to. Don’t let anyone else’s expectations, talk, or pride push you around.
  • New hunters need something that appeals to them, something to make them want to hunt. Don’t try to lift them up to your level, find out where they are and help them there.

 

Show Notes:

Crow hunting can be challenging but it’s not rocket science. With these three simple strategies should you be able to effectively hunt whatever type of land you have available.

Take Aways:

  • The Basecamp Method. This involves focusing your entire hunt on one location and preparing that location for optimum success. You will need a blind, lots of decoys, a good field of view, a loud call, and of course surrounding areas that hold crows.
  • Running And Gunning. Pack light, bring water, and plan on covering a lot of ground. Every half mile or so, find some cover and start calling. When the action dies down, move on to the next area.  This is also a great way to scout new locations.
  • Strategic Ops. Plan on visiting a handful of locations you have already scouted and verified, maybe 2-4 spots for a morning. Take a few decoys and pick good places to sit with some cover. Plan on spending an hour or so hunting each spot, unless the crows keep coming in. When things quiet down then pack up and make your way to the next location.

 

Show Notes:

In most situations, crow hunting is a game of hiking and stealth. You need gear that will enable you to easily cover ground and then remain undetected once you start calling.  On this episode, I talk about the basic gear you want for crow hunting.

Take Aways:

  • Footwear – I recommend some medium hiking style boosts that you can cover different types of terrain easily with. Heavy insulated boots aren’t needed because most of the time you won’t be sitting in one spot for very long.
  • Socks – This depends a lot on the season, but generally you need lighter socks than for hunting from a still position because you will be moving regularly.
  • Pants – A camo outer layer is needed, black or brown are the next best options
  • Jacket – Camo is best, and the weight depends on the season. A heavy coat is needed for winter, and a long sleeve t-shirt might be best for summer. 
  • Gloves – Light camo gloves for warm weather and heavier for cold weather.  Usually I end up using the light gloves in the cold too because depending on how much you walk, you may stay plenty warm.
  • Face – Some kind of face covering is important, you want to hid as much skin as possible.  
  • Head – Camo hats are easy to come buy, have one of every type of weather.
  • Backpack – A pack is important to hold your calls, water, umbrella, snacks, and anything else you might need.
  • Seat – Something light that can hang from your pack or belt is ideal to help you stay dry no matter where you site and make hunting a little more comfortable. 

When it comes to crow hunting, you have a lot of flexibility for shotguns and shells. There is not really a wrong combination for the task, but there are certainly guns and ammo that are better than others. On today’s episode I talk about what new hunters need to know when it comes to the best firearms for crow hunting.

Picking A Shotgun To Hunt Crows

Crow hunting is a shotgun sport. I have not seen any other viable method for it. The best shotgun for new hunters is the one you already have or can borrow. The second best is the one you can buy used. Reason being, you do not know if you like the sport yet and you do not know what features and qualities of a shotgun you value for hunting crows.

Once you get some field experience you will be much better prepared to buy a shotgun that complements your style and preferences.  Save your money and wait until you have some experience so you can be sure you will like what you buy. If you buy a cheap used shotgun you can likely sell it and get your money back out of it and put it towards what you really want.

After that, most people should get a 12 gauge shotgun for crow hunting. The 20 gauge shotgun is very popular today, and it can be very effective for crow hunting. But I recommend a 12 gauge for new hunters for one main reason, ammo availability. When ammo is scarce, 12 gauge is often the only think you can find. And when crow hunting you tend to go through alot of ammo.

A 20 gauge is a good option for people who have a lighter frame, or if is going to be a gun shared with childrenIn this case, get an adjustable stock so everyone in the family can shoot it well. A 20 gauge is not a child’s gun by any means, but it does have reduced recoil, which is the tradeoff for ammo scarcity. I wouldn’t hesitate to use a 20 if ammo was easy to come by,

A 16 gauge, 28 gauge, or .410 are all viable options, especially for smaller or younger shooters. But they are less common and there is less ammo variety available for them. Indeed a 16 gauge used to be among the most popular and it is certainly effective. Ammo is the only reason the 12 gauge is kind.

In my opinion .410 should only be used by small children, adults would be handicapping themselves with such a small load. There just aren’t enough pellets in there to give a good effective range for new hunters.

The ideal action would be a semi-automatic shotgun so that you do not need to worry about mastering one more skill when it comes to operating a pump action. But you cannot go wrong with pump shotgun, and they are cheaper, and readily available, and proven. This point is purely based on preference. I prefer a semi because it requires less skills to master when cycling. And semi auto shotguns have reduced felt recoil compared to manual actions.

Choke Tubes For Crow Hunting

When it comes to choke tubes for hunting crows you do not need anything special. Your factory modified choke is plenty to get started with. Most crow hunters use a modified or full choke unless they have a great setup that can get the birds in really close. But if you are a newer crow hunter you will likely be taking further shots. A factor choke will do the job just fine. Do not spend extra money on special chokes.

Now if you already have the basics covered and you want to up your game, a good extended choke can improve your pattern density and pattern distribution. I’ve done a few tests and I’ve seen a modified Carlson’s Sporting Clays Choke get as much as 20% more pellets in a 30″ circle at 40 yards compared to a factory flush mounted modified choke. The improvement isn’t always that noticeable. But a good sporting clays choke can be a perfect way to level up your setup. But you do not need to buy one to get started, whatever you have from the factory will work just fine.

Picking Crow Hunting Ammunition 

The best shells to use are target loads. There I said it. Target loads that are #7 or #8 shot. I typically use #7.5 shot because its readily available. Target loads are cheap, provide great patterns, and are absolutely effective at regular range. But since you go through so many, it is almost financially not feasible to use anything fancier.

If you cannot use lead then I would recommend Kent Fasteel #4 or BOSS copper plated #5 bismuth in 2.75″ shells as the best loads for the money in the steel and bismuth categories. Yes they make finer shot but I think the power in these shot sizes with the non toxic loads is ideal because new hunters tend to take longer shots.

High brass, express loads, or pheasant loads are not needed for 4 reasons.

    1. Crows are not as sturdy as people like to think, it doesn’t take much to knock them out of the air.
    2. Most high brass shells come with larger shot and fewer pellets per load, that trade off is worth it shooting pheasants, but not crows. You want as many small pellets as possible when using lead.
    3. You are going to shoot a lot of shells, target loads are something like 400% cheaper than more robust shells.
    4. You are going to shoot a lot of shells, you could injure your shoulder shooting 25+ high brass shells in a day. But 25 target loads wont bother you at all.

Listen to the episode to get all of the details.

Show Notes:

Crow hunting is one of the most overlooked parts of our sport. Crows are one of the most fun types of game to pursue, and may be the single best place for new hunters to get started. On today’s episode I gave you an introduction crow hunting, including how you can get started and some basic tactics.

Take Aways:

  • Crows are in season for around 9-10 months of the year, from July to mid April in  my home state of Pennsylvania, and they can be hunted on Sundays when almost nothing else can be.
  • The two main seasons to hunt them are in the middle of winter and the middle of summer because there no other major hunting seasons and so few hunters in the woods.
  • All you NEED is a shotgun and crow call. Camo or black clothing is better but you can get by wearing whatever you have.
  • Having some decoys can be helpful because it gives crows something to see other than you! But you can hunt without them. Here are the crow decoys that I use.
  • You can hunt them any time of day, no need to wake up early or stay up late. 10:00 AM on a Saturday works perfectly!
  • You don’t need absolute stealth. Sure stealth helps, but this can be a social hunt. You can chat as you go.
  • Crow hunting helps you scout and explore new places that you might want to hunt in other seasons.
  • Crow hunting gets you outside and active at beautiful times of year.
  • Crows eat turkey and duck eggs and will attack and kill baby turkeys and ducks as well as many other game birds and song birds.
  • Crows are a pest and a menace animal, they eat crops, they make messes, they hurt farmers. Ever heard of a “scare crow” ? Famers use those to scare crows aware because there aren’t enough crow hunters. You are doing a public service!
  • You need no specialized skills for crow hunting, any beginner or group of beginners can do it. You just need a call.
  • Here are some options for crow calls. Inexpensive hand call. Modest electronic callFOXPRO electronic call (the one I use).