By Charles Towne
We have all heard of the mourning dove. Most of us recognize a dove when we see it and the cooing of this lovely bird is recognized by all as being somewhat poignant, even sad. But, have you ever heard of a mourning crow?
As a boy growing up in the Illinois of the 1940’s, hunting, fishing, and trapping were unremarkable activities. I was shooting squirrels, rabbits, and pheasants when I was six or seven years old to contribute to the family’s larder.
During that time of eminent domain, we practiced our own form of ethnic cleansing, for darned near every kind of animal or bird was considered vermin.
It was nothing to drive down a country road and see where a farmer had hung 20, 30 or more owls and hawks on his fence as trophies attesting to his prowess. During that time hawks of all kinds were called, “chicken hawks” and when a hawk was sighted a regular cry went up, ‘There’s a chickenhawk, run, get the gun!’
Of course what the farmers were doing was setting themselves up for a very real infestation of vermin such as rats and mice which proliferated to plague proportions without their natural regulators, the hawks, and owls.
And if you think the hawks had it bad, baby, you didn’t want to be a crow. Crows were at the top of the list of the undesirable element and also at the top of every boy’s hit list. They were shot, poisoned, and dynamited at their roosts literally by the tens of thousands, and at government expense no less!
At that time the Future Farmers of America encouraged hunting and trapping as proper land management, as did the Boy Scouts of America.
We shot everything and anything that moved and bragged of the killing.
Now I said that to say this… I considered it right and proper to shoot animals, but some things happen in our lives that have a profound impact, an effect that can be life-changing.
Many years have passed since the occasion I am about to relate and yet I can see it still. A group of crows started showing up each day in my woods and I laid-in-wait for them with my twenty-two rifle.
Within minutes I had a dead crow at my feet and as every crow hunter knows if you position a dead crow on top of a fence post it acts as a decoy to the rest of the flock and if you are clever and remain well concealed you can keep shooting and wipe out the entire group.
I placed the crow on top of a post and took up my position, rifle at the ready.
A single crow began calling and soon it flew down and landed near the dead crow. I took aim but something kept me from pulling the trigger. In retrospect, I know what that something was.
The crow hopped closer to the fencepost where the dead bird sat still as death and then it flew up to a branch of a nearby tree. A distance of four or five feet separated the dead from the living.
The visitor cocked its head and gazed at the inanimate bird as it began to cluck and croon. It flew near the dead bird several times as though attempting to drive it into flight but, sad to say, dead birds don’t fly.
Eventually, I left and returned to the house but later I looked and the crow was still there, slouched, crouching there in its black mourning attire, crooning and whispering so sorrowfully.
I believed then and believe now that the mourning crow was the dead crow’s mate.
On the third day I went out and buried the crow that I had destroyed, only then did the mourning crow leave
Our actions and the results of those actions can impact us in profound ways. So it was with the mourning crow.
That was the last crow I ever shot.
AN OUTDOORSMAN’S PRAYER
Dear God, how it must grieve you to see heartless behavior in your children, those you have created to watch over the animals. Yes, Lord, I want to please you in all things, in all ways. I want to glorify you by showing mercy toward all your creation. Lord, help me to have a spirit of protection, never destruction. Help me to recognize you as a merciful God, and to always practice mercy, love, and kindness. In Jesus’ most Holy name I ask this, Amen
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.