Texas Sandhill Crane Hunt

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Last year when we were heading back home from south Texas we noticed a lot of sandhill cranes along the highway in the panhandle area. At that time we commented on how cool it might be to hunt birds as big as some of the animals we chase. After getting home as usual I started looking for a new place to hunt hogs and maybe a deer hunt for the next year in Texas. We have gone for hogs twice now but have never been really satisfied with the service received on these ranches.

Anyway a couple of months after I gambled again and set up a deer hunt in the panhandle I remembered the cranes we had seen and started searching the net. Two days later we were booked about 40 miles south of Amarillo for our first crane hunt on 12/2/2010.

We arrived in Texas the night before after a 10 hour drive in anticipation of the next morning. We met the outfitter at his house at 5:30 and helped hook up his trailer and explained to him we had never really bird hunted before. He just laughed and said not to worry as he would bring them in so close we couldn't miss.

After we got to the area it took about 30 minutes to get all the full body fully feathered mounted cranes and blind set up. Must have been about 75 of them. We could hear the cranes calling in the distance before the sun was fully up and what a sight as they started flying. Big flocks everywhere. Although the guide did call once in awhile it was not needed as flocks would come swooping in to check out the spread. And he was right about the shooting as most shots were about 20 yards as they flared to land.

The limit is 3 apiece and we were only there about 2 and a half hours to get our limit and pick everything up again. We were also able to harvest 2 lesser Canada geese and 1 snow goose as they flew over for a look. We had no goose decoys out or we could have done much better on these also.

This was a great 1/2 day hunt to add to our deer hunt the next day. I was planning to do it again next year but messed up by booking another deer hunt in November instead of December like this year so the season will not be open yet when we get there.

Still thinking about going back in December though and booking a full day of cranes and geese or pheasant. For our first bird hunt it has definitely gotten us craving more.


Deer Slayer's picture

I've never even heard of

I've never even heard of hunting sandhill crane. Congratulations for shooting so many of them. It looks like it would be alot of fun though, especially in that area. What will you do with those birds, eat them, stuff a couple? I'm just curious. I really enjoyed your pictures.


ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story and some very

Great story and some very nice pics to go with it. That sounds like it would be alot of fun. The only birds I have ever hunted are turkey and grouse. Who knows maybe someday I will get to give it a try.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Great story and photos!  I

Great story and photos! 

I have heard that Sandhill cranes are actually pretty good to eat.  What is the saying, "Rib-eye of the sky"?

And they definately look fun to shoot!!!


numbnutz's picture

Great story, Looks like a lot

Great story, Looks like a lot of fun, I have never hunted them but have seen them hunted on TV. I show that show Tred Barta does and he was shooting them with his long bow. A game warden came out to check out what they were doing, he checked the licenes and stuff and got a good laugh watchung them from a distance. It looked liked fun, i think he took about 30 shots and only got 1 bird. Thanks for sharing your story. 

GooseHunter Jr's picture

man that is a cool story. 

man that is a cool story.  They are a cool bird and really good eating.  We were early goose hunting here in CO one year and had a flock of four cranes come in.....the ole 10 gauge did a number on them and they hit the ground like a tone of bricks.  I think it would be a good time to hunt just for them with decoys!!

AlpineClimber's picture

I never heard of hunting them.

We'll see them on occasion in Northern Arizona, but I honest never knew anyone hunted them until we saw Tred Barta trying to shoot them with a long bow on his TV Show.  It was one of the most entertaining hunting shows my family has ever saw.  It started out with me watching it, then my daughter sat down followed by my son and wife.  Tred never shot one and it was hilarious watching him with his enthusiams launch arrow after arrow and keep missing.  You couldn't turn it off.  If you ever get a chance to watch that episode, don't miss it.

WishIWasHunting's picture


Those are big birds!  Sounds like there was plenty of action.  Congratulations on an exciting and successful hunt!

jaybe's picture

I too am curious as to how

I too am curious as to how they taste. Also, if you don't eat them, what do you do with them - plant them under your rose bushes? (That's what we do with carp here in Michigan).

We see sandhills here during the summer - sometimes they are pretty concentrated in certain areas. In the fall, we see large flocks of them headed south - just like big flocks of Canada geese headed to their wintering grounds somewhere down south of here.

I'm guessing that the sandhills coming into decoys make a pretty large and easy to hit target - like the guide said - "don't worry".

Thanks for that story - it's the first time I've actually heard of someone who hunted them, even though I know they are widely hunted in some places.