With the inaugural 2017-18 statewide sandhill crane season approaching, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reminding hunters of requirements surrounding this hunt and also noting that bag limits depend on the number of tags issued per sportsman.
“We especially want hunters to understand that they had to participate in a drawing for tags and then those who were awarded tags can only take one bird per issued tag,” noted TWRA Migratory Gamebird Program Leader Jamie Feddersen.
Earlier this year the wildlife agency conducted a computer draw for crane hunting tags, but also held a hand-draw in an area of the state referred to by TWRA as the Southeast Crane Zone.
Hunters in the statewide drawing were issued one tag each, while those in the southeast zone received three tags.
“This was the first time TWRA has issued tags for statewide hunting,” said Feddersen. “Hunters who received a white tag (1) can hunt cranes anywhere in the state open to hunting, while those issued blue tags (3) must stay within the designated Southeast Zone.”
Sandhill crane hunting statewide begins Dec. 2, and ends Jan. 28. Hunting in the Southeast Crane Zone has a split season. The first segment is Dec. 2-Jan.11. The second is Jan. 15-Jan. 28. Daily hours of hunting are a half-hour before sunrise until 3 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. CST.
Hunters with statewide tags can hunt in the southeast zone, but not during the closed portion of the zone’s split season.
Sandhill crane hunting has taken place in other states for years. However, it has only been since 2013 that hunters have been allowed to pursue them in Tennessee in the southeast zone.
As sandhill crane populations have increased, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has granted TWRA wider latitude to provide hunting tags.
However, the agency is closely monitoring the crane harvest, while also requiring hunters to learn how to differentiate sandhill cranes from rare and protected whooping cranes.
*Passing a Sandhill Crane Identification Test, available on TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org. A validation code that the test has been completed must be recorded on all tags;
*Reporting harvest(s) within 24 hours by mailing a check-in portion of their tag to TWRA;
*Completing a post-hunt survey within 10 days of the season closure.