-Bart Jordan Sept 9, 2017
Fair chase bird hunting for the first time is like trying to envision what a puzzle looks like when all you have is a single piece. Over time you pick up a piece here and a piece there and eventually you have a much better idea what the puzzle looks like when it is put together. One of the puzzle pieces that I have taken advantage of is examining the contents of the craw.
What is a Craw?
The Craw is a sack like bag that sits at the top of the wishbone on most birds. It's purpose is to allow the bird to fill the bag quickly on the ground and then retire to a tree branch in the late morning to digest. This minimizes the amount of time a bird needs to spend on the ground, leaving it vulnerable to predators. Most of the contents of a craw are very easy to identify as they are pre-digested and not all mushed up and coated with stinky digestive juices.
On a recent Dusky Grouse trip we kicked up a few grouse in an area that I thought might have a few birds. I opened up the craw that evening and found that it was stuffed with red and white berries.
Contents of the Craw
I had seen a bunch of these berries in an area not far from where we were and had noticed that they tended to be in open spots close to dark timber. I made the assumption that they might be more prevalent on the north facing slopes where there is more moisture and less direct sunlight. That is where we hunted on the second day and we were able to find the birds much faster this time.
Berries on the plant
Hunting public land birds can be a challenge and nothing replaces time in the field and experience in an area. Examining the craw is one tool to help you better understand the birds you chase and help you find them quicker.