Sandhill cranes. (Photo: Contributed)

With the approach of the 2017–18 sandhill crane season, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency reminds hunters of requirements related to this hunt and notes 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,” TWRA migratory game bird program leader Jamie Feddersen said in a prepared statement.

In addition to a computer drawing for crane hunting tags conducted by TWRA earlier this year, there was also a hand drawing in the area of the state referred to as the Southeast Crane Zone. Hunters in the statewide zone received one tag each, with those in the Southeast Crane Zone being issued three tags.


“This was the first time TWRA has issued tags for statewide hunting,” Feddersen said. “Hunters who receive a white tag (1) can hunt anywhere in the state open to hunting, while those issued blue tags (3) must stay within the designated southeast zone.”

Hunters with statewide tags can hunt in the southeast zone, but not during the closed portion of the zone’s split season. Statewide, sandhill crane hunting begins Dec. 2 and ends Jan. 28. The Southeast Crane Zone has a split season, the first segment being Dec. 2–Jan. 11 and the second segment being Jan. 15–28. Daily hours for hunting are from a half-hour before sunrise until 3 p.m. EST.

Other states have had sandhill crane hunting seasons for years, but hunters have only been allowed to pursue them in Tennessee’s southeast zone since 2013. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has given TWRA wider latitude to provide hunting tags as sandhill crane populations have increased. The agency is, however, closely monitoring the crane harvest and requiring hunters to learn how to differentiate between sandhill cranes and protected whooping cranes.

Sandhill crane hunters must meet the following requirements:

  • Pass a sandhill crane identification test, available on TWRA’s website at, and record a validation code that the test has been completed on all tags
  • Report harvests within 24 hours by mailing a check-in portion of their tag to TWRA
  • Complete a post-hunting survey within 10 days of the season closure