“Load your pump with the Hi-Birds first,” Todd “The Crowman” Gifford (above) instructed. “If the crows don’t decoy well, then you can switch later to Black Cloud.”
Specifically, my guide was referring to #7½ Federal Premium Hi-Bird, and #4 Federal Premium Black Cloud shotshells. I’d never used Hi-Bird before, and was surprised by the inclusion of a crow illustration on the ammo box (below).
When I pointed to the crow drawing, Todd smiled and said, “Yea, the ammo makers are finally starting to show some love for us crow crushers! Hi-Bird is outstanding. It’s fast, hammers the birds hard, and is pretty soft to shoot.”
In doing research for this article, I learned that Hi-Bird utilizes a special two-piece wad – SoftCell technology it’s called – to decrease felt recoil. It also produces consistent long-range patterns. Hi-Bird contains lead shot, and according to Federal, the ammo “is engineered for the optimum blend of hardness and density.” I’m not experienced enough to discuss pellet hardness and density, but I can tell you that when I pulled the trigger on crows, they stopped flying. That morning in the crow blind, we had only #7½ Hi-Bird ammo, but I know that retailers just started receiving it in #6, too. The #6s should be deadly on wary crows that don’t offer close-range shots. Click here for more info on Hi-Bird.
Because most of our crows didn’t commit suicide by setting their wings and dropping into our decoys, I shot mostly #4 Black Cloud. (FYI: This wasn’t my first time in the field with Black Cloud; click here to see pics from a fall 2016 wood duck hunt.) Black Cloud features a rear-deploying FLITECONTROL FLEX wad that provides consistent and tight patterns with BOTH ported and standard chokes. Unlike Hi-Bird, Black Cloud contains a mixture of 40 percent FLITESTOPPER steel pellets and 60 percent Premium steel. Stated simply – the stuff is deadly!
P.S. Click here to read all about the author’s first crow hunt with Todd “The Crowman” Gifford. And stay tuned to OHUB for a follow-up story on crow-specific calls and decoys!