MANSFIELD - There are plenty of good reasons to hold a crow hunt: to prevent damage to crops as a result of destructive crow behavior, or for general population control to mitigate predation on song birds and wild turkey eggs.
Crow hunting also is fun, and a competitive way to bring hunters together.
That was Brian Laudermilch's intent a year ago when he organized a crow hunt hosted by the Lambs Creek Sportsman's Club, of which he's been member since he was a young boy.
Last Sunday, the club's second crow hunt was held across Tioga County.
"The point of the club is to make it a family affair," Laudermilch said, as his son, Seth, stood by his side. "I want my son to experience a lot of the same things that I did growing up."
To that end, Laudermilch, whose father is on the board of directors, has been instrumental in organizing the club's youth trout derby and youth squirrel hunt in the hopes of getting young people involved in hunting and the outdoors. His efforts have been in response to club members who only take advantage of the club's services a few times a year, often during the first days of deer season to sight in their rifles on the club's shooting range.
The club, founded in 1949, has about 230 members and holds special events throughout the year, including a running deer shoot, clay shoots, trapping courses - and now, a crow hunt, which Laudermilch would like to become an annual event.
The hunt brought out seven teams of two or three people. Beginning at daybreak, the hunters looked for crows on lands across the county and wherever their instincts told them to go.
At 1 p.m., the teams met at the club to compare kill counts.
The winning team took 22 crows, the second-place team took 10 crows and the third-place team killed only three. But some of the teams came away with none.
Davis Williammee, whose team "Old Men" won both years, wouldn't divulge the secrets of his methods. Last year, his team killed 19 crows.
"Crows are smart birds," Williammee said. "But we know what they do, their migrations, what they like and don't like," adding that crows grow suspicious if they hear the same call too many times.
Williammee and his team hunted near Liberty, using calls and decoys. Assisting him was Eve, his black Labrador retriever, who has been hunting with Williammee for the past three years.
Williammee, who lives in Mansfield, has been a hunter all his life. He pursues crows throughout the season to help a few farmers in the area whose crops are vulnerable to attack.
"They just do a devastation," he said.
He spoke of one farmer he's been helping over the years who saw his corn loss decrease from 12 to 3 acres, adding that he hunts crows for at least five farmers in the area. Many of the birds that were killed on Sunday will be used as decoys to deter live crows from area farmlands.
"The farmers like when we come around," Williammee said.
In the 2013-14 hunting season, set by the state Game Commission, crow season began in July of last year and continues through April 6. Hunters are permitted to shoot crows only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is no limit to the number of crows they may shoot.