SANDHILL CRANES!

Ever get tired of me telling hunting stories and never shooting an animal? Me too!! I have a lot of fun when I’m doing the actual hunting, but then later, if I think about it too much, I get really irritated. I think of how I’ve hunted my butt off, for numerous seasons, and still come home empty handed. Although, I will say, if I were less picky, it would be helpful. But anyone that knows me, knows I’m stubborn. So another season has ended and my elk tag still isn’t punched. Bahumbug, poor me, boohoo, heavy sigh, etc.

SO! To cheer us up, I thought I would share my sandhill crane adventures with you!! I get asked a lot why I want to shoot a bird. The answer is easy enough: I like steak. In case you haven’t heard, sandhill cranes are the rib-eye of the sky. Sounds delicious. AND they are pretty much the coolest animals ever. Jared* and I have decided they’re our spirit animals, which clearly means that we should eat them.

*Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who is this Jared boy, you ask? You may remember I mentioned him once before. Remember when the Hand-Me-Down Archer was just getting started? He gave me a bunch of arrows and my super fantastic Carter Like Mike release, which I highly recommend to any bowhunters out there. Ours is a very long and confusing story, with at least 18 detours, 22 backstories, and no less than 6 diagrams and 3 flow charts needed to explain half of it. Even we are often confused. Anyway, Jared is the Partner in Crime as of late, and here’s hoping it’s permanent. Okay, moving on.

So here’s a few things I know about cranes. Disclaimer: I learned all of this from a few clicks on the Google Machine months ago, as well as from personal interviews with a few of them and from my own observations while in the field. None of this is a direct quote from a website, and I have nothing to cite, so don’t sue me.

Thing 1. Unlike other birds, cranes will sometimes wait until they are 7 years old before finding a mate. That’s putting some serious time into the single life, eh?! Although, apparently some will mate sooner, when they’re 2 or 3, but that is not the point. This is my favorite fact about cranes, and I don’t know why.

Thing 2. They mate for life. I learned this fact and instantly got super worried. What happens if I kill one’s husband or wife?! Like, how am I supposed to know if it’s a single-and-ready-to-mingle crane or not… before I shoot it?! This leads to:

Thing 3. Apparently if a husband or wife crane dies, their widow will likely find a new crane to marry. So they’re like people. PHEW!

Thing 4. They like to hang out in marshes and general aquatic areas, alfalfa fields, and corn fields. And right outside my bedroom window, for whatever reason.

Thing 5. I don’t actually know what they like to eat, but based on Thing 4 alone, I’m going to guess they will eat bugs, possibly fish, corn, and possibly alfalfa. Also, there were lots of spiders in that alfalfa field, so they probably eat those too.

Thing 6. They can fly super duper slowly. Like basically just hover above ground, with their bodies all smashed super flat, and somehow just defy gravity without going anywhere. It’s SO COOL!

Thing 7. If they have the option, they will hang out in privately owned fields all day long, even if there is public land with large bodies of water and corn fields right next door. Somehow the private land bugs just taste better.

Thing 8. If you get permission to hunt on said private fields, all of the cranes will suddenly become very interested in the neighbor’s private fields, and go hang out there instead.

See?! They didn’t want to hang out on our side of the road, for whatever reason…

Well, we are already at 667 words, and I haven’t even started telling you about the daggum hunt yet. But, hey, at least you know lots of crane facts now! I will make sure to stay more on track next time, and I’ll tell you how exactly it all went down when we decided to embrace The Waterfowl Life.

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