It all started when I stopped by a local farm where I usually shoot a few pigeons and starlings with the air gun in the off-season.
Duck season had just closed, deer season was over and the only thing worth hunting was coyotes, or the odd pigeon or two at the neighboring farms. I often take my lab over to the farms to give her some exercise retrieving pigeons that I shoot off the top of the silos with my air gun.
The owner of the farm Rick saw me one morning and said; “I may have something you might be interested in. I have been having problems with crows pecking holes in the plastic on the ground silos and water is getting in causing the hay to rot. I called the state but they didn’t get back to me yet.”
Well I told him that I was an ADC (Animal Damage Control) agent for the state and I would contact the local warden to see what could be done. A call to the warden got me a depredation permit (as crow season was closed), and we were good to go.
Usually I hunt crows like most people with a call, decoys and a shotgun. This time I decided to try using the Marauder, as there were a large number of birds next to the house and barn. They didn’t seem to mind people walking around as the farm hands were always out and about and they pretty much had free range of the place. I figured with the low noise I could probably get a couple before the rest got wise to my shooting.
I got my rifle, which I had also equipped with my camera, since I like to record the action. Earlier this summer I had been at the farm shooting pigeons with a crew from Crosman, trying out the new Marauder pistol, so the farmer was familiar with my equipment. In this case, I would be using two Marauder rifles, .22 and .25 caliber.
I parked the truck and slipped around back by the silo. There were a number of crows in the edge of the cut cornfield. A quick check of the distance with my Bushnell laser range finder told me that the first one was 47 yards. I zoomed thecamera in, hit the record button and pulled the trigger. I could hear the “smack” as the pellet struck home. The crow flew about 20 yards, then dropped dead in the field. The rest of his “buddies” started calling and circling and two other landed a little further out. I ranged to the closest one, which was 70 yards. At three mil dots down on my scope, and with no wind blowing, I held right on and fired again. This time the bird flopped over and got up skittering on the ground. The rest of the birds now flew over to some trees about 120 yards away. I got my black lab Abby out of the truck and sent her for the cripple.
Now, I know a lot of people do not use a dog for retrieving crows. They bite and could peck a dog’s eye. When I first started taking Abby, I had shot a crow that hit the ground next to me and was still alive and when I picked it up. She ran right over to it to give it a sniff and the crow latched onto her nose. She never forgot that and ever since then, she would come around from behind and grab them from the backside making sure she stayed away from the pointy end. This was over ten years ago and she pretty much has them figured out.
Well as I said, I opened the door to the truck and sent her for the cripple, which she caught easily. I finished him with another shot and started walking slowly towards the other crows in the trees.
In past hunting experiences, crows don’t hang around much after there is gunfire. This was not the case here. They sat in the trees and let me get within 60 yards or so. I sat down and fired again shooting low this time. The bird flew up a couple more branches and landed again. This time I held higher and in the sunlight I could see the pellet connect. He went right down and the rest of the birds left.
I worked my way back around the barn figuring I would stack them up like chord wood, but alas, four more shots only resulted in one more crow. One even let me get three shots off before leaving. It wasn’t until I reviewed the tape that I could see in slow motion that my shots were going high.
In the coming weeks I returned to the farm several times early in the morning watching for birds that were close to the house. They seemed less interested in my slinking around the barn and poking out for a shot. There was one particularly good vantage point behind the barn with a cement retaining wall that concealed me until I could ease around the corner. Distance was about 55 yards, which I found to be very doable.
I was having so much fun shooting with the air gun that I forgot that Rick really wanted the numbers diminished. Another fellow with a shotgun was hunting the same area, and on several occasions, I would see his truck parked out back with his decoys. I could hear his electronic call going but even though he was only 150 yards from barnyard, the crows would still ignore his calling and be walking around in the edge of the field and in the back yard. As a matter of fact, I shot three one morning with the Marauder while he was out back with the call going.
One morning I was getting ready to leave and spotted a crow in a tree in the front yard. I slipped down next to the house and rested the stock on the side of the house. Holding a little high, as the distance was 65 yards I took a shot.
At the muffled “putt,” I saw the crow drop and zoomed in on him with the camera and then back out to where I was standing all the while narrating to the tape. I turned and saw Rick standing behind me. He asked, “ That air gun really reached out there, what kind is it? My son has been checking out a Marauder online and thinks he wants to get one”. I said “Well check it out, this is a Marauder”. We discussed the gun a little, then asked if he could have the crow I just shot. I said sure and he walked down to retrieve the bird. When he got back, he held the crow out and said, “This is the only good crow, a dead one. I hate these things.”
He put the crow up near the silo as a warning to the other birds. I don’t really think it worked as they still were hanging out there in there weeks later.
I did give Rick a DVD that I made from the shots on crows, with a few pigeons thrown in for good measure, hunting with the Marauder.
I shoot with two Marauders. One is a .22 cal. the other is a .25. As for the effectiveness I don’t think there is much difference. On real windy days, I will take the .25 as the pellets are heavier and buck the wind a bit better. Accuracy is the same and the .22 is a bit quieter, which comes in handy with follow up shots. The .25 does have a serious amount of punch and will easily shoot through a crow at 70 yards. You get a few less shots with the larger bore before you have to re-fill the gun. I usually do not bring my scuba tank or hand pump as most of my hunting results in less than 30 shots per outing. When the gun is sighted in it makes for a good morning’s shoot as most shots connect, if I do my part.
I have experimented with a number of pellets, chronographed each and tuned both guns to my liking. I have the .25 turned all the way up which gives me about 841fps, with a 31 grain Kodiak pellet. I shoot the 21grain Kodiaks in the .22 caliber for most applications, but the Crosman Premier pellets also shoot exceptionally well. On a calm day, either gun will shoot into an inch at 50 yards, with plenty of punch for crows or pigeons.
I have the .25 caliber cranked up as I am hoping one day to get a coyote on tape. I think if the distance is close enough the gun has enough power to take a coyote but thus far, the coyotes haven’t cooperated by showing themselves. Time will tell.
If you are interested in some fun varmint hunting with a “low noise” impact, give the Marauder a try. The guns are an outstanding value compared to some of the higher priced PCP guns. Crosman has really made an effort to get into the “Hunting Air Gun” market with good products, information and videos on their web page. Check out
Good hunting …John “K”