Crows and my part in their downfall

The supervillains of the grouse moor

Until I really gave it some thought, I couldn’t truly pinpoint why I hate crows. It is a hatred that seems to permeate every corner of my existence, and working out the specifics was a hard task.

Carrion crows truly are some of the foulest and most poisionously vicious animals in the world. I love birds of all kinds, but when I see a crow I become consumed with an atavistic hatred. Before I had ever even thought of putting work into a grouse moor, I knew that crows spend much of their own time hatching nefarious schemes and carrying them out with dark relish. When I was told that crows are some of the most damaging and merciless destroyers of grouse and ground nesting birds, I actually was not at all surprised. Nothing is beyond them.

In the springtime, when grouse chicks scuttle through the tufted heather like cheeping mint humbugs, old corbie sees it as his divine right and duty to drop down and gobble them up. When a hen grouse leaves her nest to feed or drink, the black invader is right there, poised to crack up the eggs and swallow down the yolks. Thoroughly despised by one and all, crows will always be number one on my hit list.

It is my ultimate ambition to shoot a cock black grouse on the Chayne. If the opportunity ever arises and I happen to notice a crow within range at the same time, I would always shoot the crow. I have been politely scolded by ‘keepers on pheasant shoots across the country for banging at their slow moving silhoettes in the middle of a drive and I am unrepentant. The amount of damage a pair of crows will do to all nesting birds during the springtime does not bear thinking about, and it is my obligation as a resident of the Scottish countryside to destroy them whenever and wherever I find them.

My deep animosity is very selective. I only hate carrion crows (corvus corone). Rooks have a certain clumsy charm and jays are beautiful. I have grown to love the cackling sound of jackdaws, and ravens have a stunning ability to turn up and croak precisely when the moment requires it, but crows are in their own league.

Little Meg is paying her way by showing an early appetite for those black rotters. My first shot at a live target reduced a crow’s torso into a spoonful of mince. My second shot knocked its mate off the top of a dry stone wall at a range of one hundred and sixty yards.

All bile vented, crows are living animals and they deserve a humane death, but to pull the trigger and see a small puff of black feathers is a moment of grand pleasure. It is the pleasure of a vigilante who takes the law into his own hands and deals justice to a well-known and notoriously black-hearted gangster.

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