Shotgun Loads For Crows

Shotgun Loads For Crows
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Shotgun Loads For Crows

With an electronic call and the right combination of shotgun and load you can have a blast shooting crows

It’s that time of year when camo clad hunters armed with shotguns and pockets full of hope head for the timber.

With handfuls of 3.5-inch magnum shells, they’ve pounded their shoulders to goo looking for that elusive softball sized pattern at 40 yards. Now they’ll scratch slates, blow on reeds, and set near foam decoys hopping a male turkey bird will come to them looking for love.

Most of these hunters will fail.

If you’re in the market for some serious shotgun fun, there’s a better way to find it. It’s called killing crows.

Though seasons and regulations vary, crow hunting is legal in every state except Hawaii. Parden the pun but don’t look at it as murder; crows need controlled.

Crows are hard on duck populations and can wreak havoc on small gardens and even larger farming operations.

The 12 gauge is the ultimate crow killer, but you don’t want to use that turkey choke; a good modified or full choke works much better. The key to killing crows is in the load.

If you’ve never called crows, it’s not like calling turkeys. When you call crows the chances of birds coming in are much greater and when they do, they often come in hoards.

The sky may be full of hundreds, and if you are using decoys they’ll swoop in and circle above like World War I fighter planes. It’s your job to be the anti-aircraft gunner.

Less Is More

What’s the best anti-crow 12 gauge load?

Well, for starters you do not need a 3.5-inch magnum load. Standard 2 ¾ shot shells will work just fine; crows are a lot harder to hit than they are to kill.

They key is to put a lot of shot into the air in a well distributed pattern. Number 6 shot is the largest shot you should use, and many believe No. 7 or  No. 8 shot is even better.

If you cannot decide between 7s and 8s, compromise and go with No. 7.5. What’s best for you will mostly depend on how a particular load performs out of your shotgun and choke.

Start With A Mod Choke

Ideally you want a pattern that has no holes in it for the crow to sneak through.

Generally, this is found with a good, modified choke and the higher shot counts found in No. 7 and No. 8 shot. A 1 ¼ ounce 12 gauge shot shell will contain around 400 and 500, No. 8 and  No. 7 pellets respectively.

If you want to reach out to greater distances, go with something like a No. 6 pheasant load at about 1300 to 1400 fps and a full choke.

You’ll have less pellets – only about 290 with a 1 ¼ ounce payload – but the tighter choke will hold them together and each pellet will hit just a tad bit harder.

Sub-Gauges For Crows

If you only have a 16- or 20-gauge shotgun, the same rules apply.

The primary difference between shotgun gauges is not how hard they hit but in the amount of shot they deliver.

A 2 ¾-inch 20-gauge load will typically contain 1-ounce of shot, a 2 ¾ 16-gauge will have 1 1/8-ounce, and a 2 ¾ 12-gauge will about 1 ¼-ounce.

With No. 8 shot this works out to payloads of about 410 pellets for the 20-gauge, 461 pellets for the 16 gauge, and around 512 pellets for the 12-gauge. More pellets mean more chances for hits.

Lead Is Best

Lead shot works fine too; there’s no need for steel or tungsten. And don’t be a fool and try to kill those crows any deader than they need to be with three-inch loads.

More than likely you’re going to do a lot of shooting when crow hunting. The last thing you want is for your shotgun to beat you into submission.

Let the humility of missing take care of that.

You also don’t need to be a skilled hunter to call in crows, but you do need to be a reasonably competent shot to hit them.

An electric call and a couple plastic decoys will bring the crows in. All you’ll need is some shooting skill, the proper loads, and a lot of them.

Expect to miss more than you hit, but expect the fun to be off the charts.


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