For years the Birdtail Waterfowl guides have been hunting Sandhill Cranes with pretty darn good success but always knowing that we should further investigate Crane Land.. It’s an area that we hunted waterfowl in 20 years ago and was a good area to hunt but with the light soil and other factors the crop consistency was hit or miss to hold the volume of fowl we need. The one change we have really been seeing is the volume of Cranes filling the area and almost feel that they might be pushing the ducks and geese out. Fine by us because Crane hunting is a blast!
The staff and I have always felt that we should know Crane land better and find the hidden gems the region holds. We ended up planning a guide retreat for a few days before the waterfowl season started – we fine tuned the A Type personality and gave Wikipedia the new definition of intensity. Way too much fun.. We decided to break up into 2 hunting parties and each party would scout their own hunts while recording the scouting intel. We made conscious effort to find the borders of Crane Land, then to find highest densities of Sandhills.. It would have taken us 15 years to learn what we learned in just a few short days on how the region really works. It’s a unique area that has patterns that we would never have guessed, plus with the miles we put on we found some unreal areas to pursue in the future.
The hunting was absolutely epic but the biggest lesson we learned about Cranes is they love to slip while decoying because the are a gliding bird.. We ended up changing our spreads to accommodate their slip approach and found they decoy with little or no wheeling.. It’s almost like setting up for cross shooting ducks and geese, but creating a long perpendicular pocket to the shooters for them to slip into and also having the wind at a 45 degree to the shooters. It’s hard to have the landscape line up for this tactic but it’s worth the effort to try and make the scenario. We actually started to hunt fields with less birds to get the terrain to work to our advantage. Waterfowl hunting is similar to Crane hunting but when you really put the effort into figuring them out they are night and day. Didn’t think I was going to write a Sandhill Crane decoy strategy blog post today but it happened..
This is not a product plug but when you have a unbiased review of equipment I feel it should be shared. We ended up purchasing more Deception Outdoors Sandhill Crane Decoys for our 2016 season and used them hard.. They are flawless and extremely durable. Sandhill Crane hunting can be done with 2-3 decoys but you can also run high volume as long as you have the vocals to support the numbers.. We run 5 doz in a spread and find that it’s a perfect volume for a 4 man hunt.. Great decoys that are made in the USA..