For a hunting fanatic, August is a bitter pill to swallow. The expanded archery season is still a month away, upland game and waterfowl season is two months out, and firearms deer season seems like it will never get here. Thus was my lament until a quick glance at the law booklet. This month, hunters can enjoy an open season on crows and the ever-open season on woodchucks, making August a great month to start your hunting season early.

Crow hunting is one of those sports that many of us think about, but rarely take the time and energy to do. I had shot a few crows in the past, but was introduced to them in earnest while hunting in Canada. Several years ago, Rene Lavoie and I had traveled to Prince Edward Island to take in some goose hunting. We had been there a year prior and hit it just right, bagging two days’ limits in two day’s time.

The next year, we went up again, with a different outfitter and were stumped by the weather. The skies were clear blue and temperatures hovered in the 70s. Not good goose hunting weather. Our guide suggested we try a local river for ducks, and I bagged a banded green-winged teal.

As we were waiting for another flight of teal to come in, I began to notice that dozens of crows were flying by. The flight size increased until the sky was literally darkened by passing crows.

Not being able to shoot crows during waterfowl season in Maine, we paid little attention to the flock until the guide asked us if we would care to shoot the crows for sport. We looked at each other like two kids in a candy store and commenced firing. We were dropping bird after bird, but they kept on coming in. We were apparently located smack dab in the middle of a traditional flight route. After several boxes of shells and two sore shoulders, the flight ended. I was hooked on crow hunting.

Maine’s crow season opened Aug. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, affording plenty of opportunity for preseason shooting practice. A 20-gauge shotgun (or larger), a few boxes of No. 6 lead shot and an owl decoy should get things rolling. Corn fields are a good bet to find crows, especially if there are harvested corn stalks on the ground. An enterprising hunter could also put out a road kill raccoon carcass or larger animal carcass (when legally obtained) to draw these scavengers in.

For duck hunters, calling crows in is a great way to practice for the upcoming waterfowl season. Set up a few crow dekes around an owl decoy and let the fun begin. A few hoots on an owl call will get the action started. Crows absolutely hate owls, and any nearby birds will be drawn in to what they think is a flock attacking an owl.

For hunters looking to hone their shooting skills and get some realistic practice in stalking and shooting, they could kill the proverbial two birds with one stone while sniping woodchucks. While there is no closed season on these hole-diggers, this is the perfect time of year to get out after “chucks” as farmers cut their late-summer hay and the fields are short again. Vast networks of woodchuck holes and tunnels cause grief for farmers.

As summer rolls to a close, the smart hunter is prepared. A day spent wingshooting crows or stalk-hunting woodchucks will definitely pay dividends this fall.

Aside from testing their aim, hunters should also begin a firearm cleaning and checking regimen, to ensure their guns are in top shape come fall. The gunsmith’s bench is a full one come October, so now is the time to arrange for any necessary adjustments or repairs.

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