HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Bob Aronsohn may be the only Kansas resident you’ll ever meet who moved to the state because of crows.
That’s right, crows.
Aronsohn, you see, is an avid crow hunter. And when he was living in Long Island, N.Y., he read all about the giant crow roosts Kansas had and how they were virtually untouched by hunters. So he just had to travel here and see for himself.
“Back in the late 1960s, we called Fish and Game, and they told us about this giant roost at Medora (Kan.),” said Aronsohn, 62. “They estimated there were 2 million crows at that one roost.
“The landowners didn’t want them around because they were causing all kinds of damage to their crops. So when we came out here, everyone we talked to gave us permission to hunt.
“Our first time out, we shot 126 crows, and we thought we were in heaven. Before that, if we shot 20 to 30 birds, we thought we were doing great.”
Those first hunting trips were all it took to get Aronsohn to move to Kansas in 1974.
Some might think that’s a bit unusual, considering that crows aren’t exactly the glamour species of American hunting.
Pheasants and quail, perhaps. Deer or turkeys, maybe. But crows?
Aronsohn admits that he is definitely in the minority when it comes to his passion for hunting the large black birds. But he sees many advantages in hunting crows.
“I like to shoot,” he said. “I don’t want to stop when I get to six (a reference to the Kansas limit on ducks).
“There’s no limit on crows. The only limit is the number of shells you bring.”
And Aronsohn brings a lot. It’s not uncommon for him and a partner to shoot dozens of crows in a day. Landowners are happy; they’ve gotten rid of birds they consider pests. And Aronsohn is happy, too. He has taken part in his idea of a dream hunt.
“There isn’t another bird that I would rather hunt than the crow,” he said. “I got started when I was a kid, and I’ve never given it up.
“Just to see hundreds of birds coming in on you and getting a chance to do all of that shooting, that’s what’s always kept me going.”
How serious is Aronsohn about crow hunting? Visit his home in Hutchinson and you’ll see.
He has a miniature museum in his basement, complete with old calls, decoys, pictures and signs. One of those signs from the 1930s read, “Warning. Explosives. This crow roost to be bombed by Game and Fish Dept,” referring to efforts to eradicate huge concentrations of crows.
Looking for more proof of Aronsohn’s passion over crow hunting? Consider this story from 1985.
“My dad got this invitation to attend a dinner in Washington, D.C. and meet President Reagan,” he said. “He was allowed to bring a couple of guests, and he asked me.
“But I told him I couldn’t go. It was in October and the crows were flying.
“A man has to set his priorities.”
Fall has always been a magical time for Aronsohn. While others head to the duck blind or tree stand, Aronsohn heads to agricultural areas in search of crows.
The birds migrate to the region in mid-October, he said. By the end of the month, “there are zillions of them,” he said.
Aronsohn hunts them hard throughout the fall months, traveling to six states. He is a longtime resident of Hutchinson, once the center of some of the nation’s finest crow hunting. But that has changed over the years. Changes in land-use patterns have pushed the crows to other areas and have altered migration patterns, he said.
No matter. Aronsohn still finds excellent hunting in other parts of Kansas and other states.
He has a routine to his hunting. He usually tries to scout, looking for areas the crows are using. Once he has permission to hunt land the birds are using, he will set up a blind somewhere between where the crows are feeding and their watering holes.
He tosses crow decoys in the nearby trees, then uses either a mouth call or an electronic caller to bring the birds in. When they arrive, the action can be fast and furious.
Some people will eat the crows. Not Aronsohn. But he says the birds don’t go to waste. The way he looks at it, he is setting up a buffet line for other wildlife.
“Raccoons, possums, coyotes, foxes, they’ll all feed on the dead birds,” he said. “I can shoot crows and come back a week later and not see a trace of them, except for a few feathers.”
After years of hunting crows, Aronsohn has attracted a following. He has several videos and DVDs on the market, and he is always getting calls from hunters, asking for advice or checking to see if they can visit his museum.
“There aren’t that many of us who hunt crows,” he said. “But other hunters don’t know what they’re missing.”
- SEASONS: Nov. 10-March 10 in Kansas, Nov. 1-March 3 in Missouri.
- LIMIT: There is no limit in either state.
- SUCCESS: Find a roost tree with nearby food and water, and you’ll find crows, especially in the fall months. The best hunting is on private land, and Kansas is known for its crow hunting. But Missouri also offers good opportunities.
(c) 2011, The Kansas City Star.
Visit The Star Web edition on the World Wide Web at http://www.kansascity.com.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.