States With Sandhill Crane Hunting
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All the States That Currently Offer Sandhill Crane Hunting


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Hunting sandhill cranes has grown in popularity in recent years, with hunters drawn to the challenge and reward of what has been nicknamed "The Rib Eye of the Sky." In North America, there are six subspecies of sandhill cranes. Three are non-migratory, staying in one area year-round, while the other three are migratory and travel as far north as Northern Canada to Mexico every year. There are currently seventeen U.S. states that have sandhill crane hunting with varying rules, but federal regulations set the stage for anyone who wants to hunt them. There are some requirements and one important program to register with, but after that, it's up to you to decide where you want to go to hunt these magnificent birds.

Federal Laws and Regulations for Sandhill Crane Hunting

Sandhill crane hunting is subject to most federal waterfowl hunting regulations. These rules include using shotguns as the method of take with a maximum capacity of three shells, and only using nontoxic shot. You are also prohibited from using live decoys, hunting from vehicles, or using bait to draw in sandhill cranes.

All sandhill crane hunters must register in the Harvest Information Program (HIP) for migratory game birds. This can be done through the state's wildlife department you plan to hunt in. Although it is a federal program, some states require that you register with them specifically.

If you have been duck or goose hunting before, you know about the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, commonly referred to as the Federal Duck Stamp. Some state regulations explicitly say the Duck Stamp is not required for sandhill cranes, while others explicitly say it is required. Defer to the wildlife department of the state you plan to hunt in to make sure.

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Now that the countrywide rules have been made clear, it's time to list the states that allow sandhill crane hunting within their borders.

Alabama

Alabama offers sandhill crane hunting for Alabama residents in the northern part of the state through an annual draw. The season bag limit is three.

Licenses Required:

  • Alabama hunting license
  • Annual State Duck Stamp or Lifetime Duck Stamp
  • Alabama Sandhill Crane permit
  • Sandhill Crane Identification certification

Alaska

Sandhill cranes are subject to fall/winter hunting season dates based on the specific Alaskan Unit you are hunting in. All units have a daily bag limit of two.

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Licenses Required:

  • Alaskan hunting license

Arizona

Arizona offers sandhill crane hunting in select areas through an annual draw. A total of 580 tags were issued for the 2021-22 season, and there was a season bag limit of three.

Licenses Required:

  • Arizona Migratory Bird Stamp
  • Arizona Sandhill Crane permit

Colorado

Colorado offers an open sandhill crane hunting season. Before the first hunting trip of the season, hunters must call 1-877-COLOHIP or register at ColoHIP.com and obtain permit numbers. All areas east of the Continental Divide except North Park and the San Luis Valley are available for sandhill crane hunting from Oct. 1 - Nov, 27, 2022, with a daily bag limit of three.

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Licenses Required:

  • Colorado Small Game license
  • Colorado Sandhill Crane permit

Idaho

Idaho holds sandhill crane hunting seasons in the eastern part of the state through an annual draw. In 2021, the state of Idaho issued 610 sandhill crane tags with seasons running throughout September. The daily and season limit is two cranes.

Licenses Required:

  • Idaho hunting license
  • Idaho Sandhill Crane tag

Kansas

Alabama Sandhill Crane Hunting

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Sandhill crane hunting is available in the central and western Kansas zones during the fall and winter months. The daily bag limit for sandhill cranes in Kansas is three. The Kansas crane hunting season dates have the same start and duration year to year. The Western Zone Season shall begin on the third Saturday in October and shall continue for 58 days, including the opening day. The Central Zone Season shall begin on the Wednesday after the first Saturday in November and shall continue for 58 days, including the opening day.

Licenses Required:

  • Kansas Sandhill Crane permit

Kentucky

There is an annual draw for Kentucky sandhill crane permits, with applications opening and closing in September. The season runs through December and January with a daily bag limit of two.

Licenses Required:

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  • Kentucky hunting license
  • Kentucky Sandhill Crane permit

Minnesota

Minnesota offers an open sandhill crane hunting season in the northwest portion of the state. The sandhill crane season runs from Sept. 18 - Oct. 24, with a daily bag limit of two.

Licenses Required:

  • Minnesota small game license
  • Minnesota Sandhill Crane permit

Montana

Montana has sandhill crane hunting in select areas through permits issued in an annual draw. The Montana season runs from Sept. 1 - Oct. 30, with a bag limit of either one or two depending on the specific area the permit is issued for.

Licenses Required:

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  • MT Migratory License
  • Conservation License
  • Base Hunting License

New Mexico

States With Sandhill Crane Hunting

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New Mexico offers Free Regular Season Eastern Sandhill Crane permits as well as a Draw-Season Sandhill Crane permit. In 2021, New Mexico issued 540 Draw-Season sandhill crane permits. The daily bag limit is three.

License Requirements:

  • Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration
  • Game Hunting License or Game Hunting & Fishing License
  • Sandhill Crane Permit

North Dakota

North Dakota has an open sandhill crane hunting season beginning in September 2022. The daily bag limit for Unit 1 is three, and the daily bag limit for Unit 2 is two.

Resident License Requirements:

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  • Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration
  • Fishing, Hunting, and Furbearer Certificate
  • Small Game License
  • General Game and Habitat License or Combination License
  • Sandhill Crane Permit

Nonresident License Requirements:

  • Fishing, Hunting, and Furbearer Certificate
  • General Game and Habitat License
  • Valid Nonresident Small Game License or Valid Nonresident Waterfowl License
  • Sandhill Crane Permit

Oklahoma

Sandhill crane hunting is available in the state of Oklahoma. Contact your local Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation office for specific season dates and limits.

License Requirements:

  • Valid Oklahoma Hunting License
  • Federal Sandhill Crane permit

South Dakota

States With Sandhill Crane Hunting

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South Dakota offers an open sandhill crane hunting season from Sep. 24 - Nov. 20, 2022. The daily bag limit is three.

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Licenses Required:

  • Residents: Combination or Small Game hunting license
  • Nonresidents: Nonresident Small Game or Nonresident Waterfowl license.
  • South Dakota Migratory Bird Certification.

Tennessee

Tennessee offers sandhill crane hunting in select areas through an annual draw.

Licenses Required:

  • Tennessee Sandhill Crane Tag
  • Sandhill Crane Identification Test

Texas

A total of 192 out of 254 Texas counties have sandhill crane seasons, with dates running from October through January. Texas requires a "Federal Sandhill Crane Hunting Permit," but this appears to be a state requirement and is only available through the Texas Parks and Wildlife.

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Licenses Required:

  • Valid Texas Hunting license
  • Texas Migratory Game Bird Stamp Endorsement
  • Federal Sandhill Crane Hunting Permit

Utah

Utah offers sandhill crane hunting in select areas through an annual draw. If you don't plan on hunting for grouse or cranes this year, Utah has an annual preference point application that will improve your chances of winning a draw if you decide to apply the following year.

Licenses Required:

  • Utah combination hunting license or Utah small game license
  • Utah Sandhill Crane permit

Wyoming

Wyoming offers an open season for lesser sandhill cranes in addition to a permit quota season for greater sandhill cranes. The daily bag limit for the general sandhill crane permit is three, and the season bag limit for the quota sandhill crane permit is one.

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Licenses Required:

  • Residents: resident game bird or game bird/small game hunting license
  • Non Residents: nonresident game bird/small game hunting license
  • Hunter Safety Certificate
  • Wyoming Conservation Stamp
  • Wyoming Sandhill Crane permit

Regulations change every year, so always check with the local wildlife department well before the season starts to get up-to-date info on rules and permits. Getting to participate in a sandhill crane hunt is both a challenging and rewarding experience, but luckily, there are a lot of options in terms of where to do it.

READ MORE: ALL THE UPLAND GAME BIRDS YOU CAN HUNT IN AMERICA

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