Listed as a game species, many central U.S. states, Canadian provinces, and Mexico have been hunting sandhill cranes for more than 50 years with populations remaining stable or increasing. The sandhill subspecies found in the eastern U.S. is called the giant sandhill crane. Sandhills prefer wetland habitat with emergent vegetation and often feed in harvested grain fields. The majority of migratory sandhill cranes in Alabama are found in the Tennessee River Valley with some birds wintering in Weiss Reservoir on the Coosa River. The sandhill crane hunt zone is restricted to north Alabama. Additionally, both state and federal wildlife refuges are closed to crane hunting.
Participation and Harvest Reports
Sandhill Crane Regulations
- Permits issued through limited quota drawing only.
- Applications for sandhill crane permits will be accepted only at the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ website. Registration Will Open September 6, 2023 at 8 AM. Registration Closes September 27, 2023 at 1 pm.
- Drawn Hunters will have until October 4th, 2023 at 1 PM to Pass the ID & Regulations Test, Purchase the Selected Sandhill Crane Harvest Permit, and accept their hunting status. If not completed by the deadline an alternate will be promoted into that hunter slot.
- Eligibility- Applicants must be at least sixteen (16) years of age or older; and a resident of Alabama or a Lifetime Hunting License holder of the State of Alabama.
- The daily bag, season, and possession limit is three (3) sandhill cranes per person.
- The hunting zone will be defined as that area north of Interstate 20 from the Georgia state line to the interchange with Interstate 65, then east of Interstate 65 to the interchange with Interstate 22, then north of Interstate 22 to the Mississippi state line. (excludes the remainder of the state). See map below.
- Season Date are December 2, 2023 through January 7, 2024 AND January 1, 2024-January 30, 2024.
- Legal shooting hours are sunrise to sunset.
- Legal arms and ammunition are same as waterfowl.
Alabama Sandhill Crane Hunting Application Process
- Applicants must be at least sixteen (16) years of age or older; and a resident of Alabama or a Lifetime Hunting License holder of the State of Alabama.
- Applicants must enter the computerized drawing for a sandhill crane permit. Seven hundred and fifty (750) hunters will be drawn for a permit (1permit/hunter) for a total of 2,250 tags (3 tags/hunter). The application period for the drawing is September 6-27, 2023. The drawing will be held Wednesday, September 27, 2023 at 3 PM.
- Prior to application, the purchase of an Alabama hunting license and Alabama State Duck Stamp is required to apply.
- Drawn hunters must pass the sandhill crane identification test. All information needed to successfully pass is included within the test. You may take the test as many times as needed. The test will be available to drawn hunters online as soon as the results are posted. After passing the test drawn hunters must purchase the Selected Sandhill Crane Harvest Permit ($20 plus processing fee), then accept their hunt status. Drawn hunters will have one week to pass this test, purchase the permit, and accept their hunt status before being automatically declined and an alternate is prompted into a hunting slot. DOWNLOAD: Sandhill Crane Study Guide || DOWNLOAD: Sandhill Crane Sample Test
- Permits are non-transferable. Only a permit holder may hunt sandhill cranes. All permits will be issued via email once confirmation is received the sandhill crane identification test was passed, the permit was purchased, and the hunter status was accepted by the drawn hunter.
- Hunters must also obtain a Federal Duck Stamp, HIP certification and Wildlife Management Area License (if applicable) to legally hunt.
- The season dates are December 2, 2023 – January 7, 2024, and January 15, 2024 - January 30, 2024. Shooting hours are from sunrise to sunset. The daily bag, season bag, and possession limit for sandhill cranes is three (3) per permit holder. Permits are non-transferable.
- When you harvest a sandhill crane, before you move the bird, fill in the appropriate harvest information on your permit.
- All hunters issued sandhill crane permits MUST go online fill out and return a complete post-season survey by February 10, 2024, regardless of whether they hunted or harvested a sandhill crane. Failure to return the post-season survey by the deadline will result in hunters not being eligible to apply for a sandhill crane permits in future drawings.