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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, I made it back from my Sandhill Crane hunt last night. This was my first time looking for them, and I am more familiar with the nuances/benefits that can be behind the quest for the birds. All in all it was a fun hunt. These birds are big! I’ll post some info for all you gents for the future searches. I wish I would have had some more info to go on so I’ll pass what I know.
The birds fly in a “V” reminding me of a B-52 squadron. There are two “varieties” I guess. The lesser and the greater Sandhill. The greater is twice the size of the lesser. The lesser fly with more birds together, up to about fifteen while the greater fly solo or with up to three in a flight. The birds fly very high. Too high to shoot most of the time. The trick is to catch them coming up from their morning roosting areas or to lure them to land in a field with decoys. I am going the decoy route next time. Find a farmer that will allow you to hunt on their fresh cut corn field and you’re in the money. We saw fields with literally thousands of birds in them! (posted NO HUNTING…figures) As they come into the fields to eat, they come flight by flight. Hundreds of opportunities to get one if they start to come into your field.

You can hear these birds call before you see them. Their call travels for about a mile and you will see them coming your way at about a quarter mile. Shoot only at the birds that fly directly over you. They fly high and if you shoot at everything, you just spook the next flight and waste ammo. Like I said, they fly high and these birds are so big, you get fooled into thinking they are closer than they actually are.

They have excellent eyesight too. Wear tan colored or wetlands camo. No military issue green. Nothing shiny either. If it rains (which it did for us) wear a good rain suit that doesn’t shine. Don’t move until ready to shoot.

We used 3” shells with #4 lead and Tungsten Matrix in #1. 3” I say would be the minimum to use. We peppered a few birds (yes they are that high) and they didn’t even flinch. Hope this info helps all you future crane hunters…now about my hunt!

Almost forgot, don’t hunt with dogs, these guys are mean and if you send a dog after a wounded one, their razor sharp 4” beak WILL tear them up. FYI

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I was able to connect with a bird on the first day of the hunt. (limit is two per hunter, draw only) We were able to find a few that were heading to a field that they were feeding on. I shot at the lead crane and hit the second in line. (go figure) I broke its wing and it spiraled down to earth. I kept shooting at the flight to try and down another. (READ…wasting $2 a piece Tungsten Matrix shells) I reloaded and went to look for my downed bird which I saw fell about forty yards from where I stood. I couldn’t find it which seemed odd considering the size of these guys. (BTW I was in a desert area with the typical sand and bush) Well, out of the corner of my eye I see a head bobbing up and down about fifty yards away from me. I turn to see the crane running away! So now I’m running full tilt, shotgun in hand, through the desert after this bird that’s three feet high! He runs faster than me BTW! We weave around small brush and so forth then he turns after passing a mesquite bush. So now he can’t see me since the mesquite is between us. My only hope is that he slows because he can’t see me, I continue running as fast as I can towards the bush. Sure enough, my head peers over the mesquite to see him standing at forty yards. I put the bead on his head…BOOM! My first shot had completely busted it’s wing. Didn’t get another good shot the rest of the hunt. Just peppered a few that were way too high. There’s always next year!




Thanks for looking,
Chef
 

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Chef, thanks for sharing your hunt and the great info. Ive never hunted Sandhills. How do they taste? I never guessed that one could hunt sandhill crane in Arizona.
 

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congrats i havent never been duck hunting but will try to make it in the next year or 2 cause i love wing shooting.reckon a fellar would'nt need to many of those to make a mess of hot wings for a crowd :lol: mike
 

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Chef,

WOW!! I remember growing up in west Texas and the Sandhills Cranes were a very endangered species. Amazing.

SQS, that is funny :lol: :lol: :lol:

Dave 8)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the interest guys and gals!

Yup, Sandhill crane sure is protected in many states. Although in a few, one can hunt them in a very limited season. Bag limits are low and certain roosting areas are totally restricted and off limits to hunting.

I am already looking forward to putting in for the draw again next year since it was so much fun.

Interestingly enough, it was the curiosity in how they tasted that got me into wanting to hunt for them. I heard good and bad things. For the most part, I believe it is up to the cook to make it or break it with wild game.

I always hear of marinating in milk so I did just that except I gave it a Thai twist. I took Thai chile paste, garlic, onion, salt & pepper, coconut milk, and milk and marinated the bird for a few days. Than I grilled the meat over a soft flame.

The breast meat was very good. Nice red color in the meat and great flavor from the marinade. The leg meat was too tough and stringy. More fibrous than pheasant leg by far.

I am eager to try more recipes and cooking methods as I harvest more birds. I would say that texture and taste was between dove and duck. Not as dry as dove, but not as rich as duck.

Thanks again for the interest guys and gals!

HAVE A HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

(I'm off to the desert for quail this long holiday weekend) ;)

Regards,
Chef
 

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Fantastic.... :eek:
 
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