With the sandhill crane hunting season set to begin in the statewide and southeast zone, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is reminding hunters of requirements surrounding this hunt and also a recommended change in the check-in process.
This will be the second year for the statewide sandhill crane hunting season, beginning Dec. 1 and continuing through Jan. 27, 2019. Hunting in the southeast crane zone has a split season. The first segment is Dec. 1-Jan 17, 2019. The second is Jan. 21-27. Daily hours of hunting are a half-hour before sunrise until 3 p.m. EST, 2 p.m. CST.
Bag limits depend on the number of tags issued per hunters. “We want to remind hunters 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,” said TWRA Migratory Gamebird Program Leader Jamie Feddersen.
A computer draw was held for statewide crane hunting tags, and a hand-draw was conducted by the TWRA in the southeast zone. Hunters in the statewide drawing were issued two tags each, while those in the southeast zone received three tags. Hunters who received a white tag (1) can hunt cranes anywhere in the state open to hunting, while those issued yellow tags (3) must stay within the designated southeast zone.
For reporting harvest, previous requirements called for the check-in portion of their tag to be mailed to the TWRA within 24 hours. The TWRA is requesting this year, the check-in be made online similar to the process of checking big game online or on the TWRA App.
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. The statewide season was approved beginning for 2017-18.
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;
*Completing a post-hunt survey within 10 days of the season closure. Those issued statewide tags should complete the survey online or on the TWRA App.