Check the Crop

Check the Crop

On a recent grouse hunt in Colorado, I realized a valuable tool to help my success in the field that had been right before my eyes for years.

Crop2 - mossbergofficialsiteI had spent a long morning pushing through terrain that I felt was “grousy.” The timber was right. The location was right. The time of day was right. Yet, nary a grouse was to be seen.

Then it dawned on me. When I looked around, there was none of the vegetation in the area that I had noted in the crop of a grouse I had shot in a nearby area earlier that morning.

I had nothing to lose by relocating to similar ground that had the ground cover I found in the crop of the bird I had previously killed. Bingo. It really was that easy.

Checking a bird’s crop can tell you a lot about the bird's habits and can also help improve your success on the hunt. The crop is the expanded pouch near the esophagus that helps aid most birds in digestion.

Most game birds have crops and this is where they store the food they had recently consumed prior to digesting. A quick slit to the crop can open up a bounty of information about the birds you are hunting in a particular area.

In the situation I noted above, I found brightly colored greens, berries, and fine spruce needles in the crop of the first bird I harvested.

Crop - mossbergofficialsiteI had moved to another location that was along a ridgeline and had tall spruce.

However, in retrospect, there was literally none of the foliage (with the exception of the fine spruce needles) along the hillside.

In fact, this area that I thought could be a promising hunting location was essentially void of any of the food the first bird was consuming. I realized that I had often chosen areas like this and was fairly consistently getting skunked in those areas. This new revelation has changed my entire approach to bird hunting.

As mentioned, most birds have crops and this quick tip can be very useful in most circumstances. It does also require one bird in the bag to try it out.

However, if you hunt specific areas with consistency you will indeed benefit from learning the feeding patterns of the birds you are pursuing.

About the Author

Kirstie Pike

Kirstie Pike is the founder and CEO of Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women, the leading edge for women’s performance hunting gear for nine years and running.
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