Interested in buying decoys for your next Sandhill crane hunt? Here are a few things to look for that will help you choose the right one.
Sandhill crane hunting is not as popular as duck or goose hunting so the options available for decoys and other equipment are pretty low. There are really only 5 or 6 manufacturers producing crane decoys at the moment. Even so, I’ve been really impressed with several of them.
Sandhill crane decoys produced by Deception Decoys and Sillosocks are some of the most realistic Sandhill crane decoys I’ve ever used. You’d be hard pressed to find Sandhill crane decoys that look better and decoy more Sandhill cranes in close.
These are the Top 3 Sandhill Crane Decoys currently available:
Sandhill cranes are really smart birds and will usually only decoy into situations that they are comfortable with. Using decoys that look as realistic as possible helps build their confidence in order to decoy them extremely close. Below are the best Sandhill crane decoys that work best for fooling these weary birds.
These are the three Sandhill crane decoys you should consider:
Deception Decoys Sandhill Crane – Deception Decoys were the first to offer a premium quality Sandhill crane decoy that looks like the real thing. Each decoy is handmade and painted for life like realism. They are rather expensive, but if you want the best, this is it.
Sillosock Sandhill Crane Decoys (click to check the price on Ebay) – Sillosock is known for their windsock decoys and their Sand Hill Crane windsock is currently the only one of its kind. For large spreads, this is the most economical option. Since it’s a windsock, it’s also lightweight and will move in the wind. This is your best budget option.
Real-Geese Pro Series II Sandhill Crane Decoys (click to check the price on Ebay)– Silhouette crane decoys were the first crane decoys I ever used and they work well for small spreads or for filler decoys. The silhouette is a life like photo of an actual crane. For a stackable and easy to carry crane decoy, this is a great option.
Additional Option: Don Mintz Sandhill crane decoys are also highly sought after. They are handmade and painted for extreme realism. They are hard to get though and aren’t readily available like Deception and others.
Why I Picked the Sillosock Sandhill Crane Decoys
When you sit down and compare the Sillosocks to the Deception Decoys and Real Geese Silhouettes, the differences are noticeable.
- Sillosock crane decoys look life like and are true to size.
- Flocked heads give Sillosock decoys extra realism and reduce glare. Silhouette decoys aren’t flocked.
- Sillosocks windsocks are collapsible and stack for easy transport. They are easier to transport than the Deception Decoys.
- Sillosock crane decoys provide motion on windy days. Silhouettes and full bodies don’t have this movement.
- Sillosocks are the best way to build a large spread economically. They are the cheapest crane decoys per dozen.
- Sillosock crane decoys come in both upright and feeder body positions.
Here is a great clip of the kind of decoying you can expect to achieve with good Sandhill crane decoys.
Features to look for in a quality decoys for Sandhill Crane hunting:
- Realism is key. The right color schemes and feather detail make all the difference when decoying Sandhill cranes.
- Reduced glare and flocked heads. The best Sandhill crane decoys don’t produce glare in direct sunlight and are flocked.
- Lifelike size. Sandhill cranes can reach up to 3.5 feet in height.
- Decoys that are capable of moving or pivoting in the wind. Windsocks have the most movement while some fullbody decoys have motion stakes.
- Stackable decoys are easier to store for larger spread setups.
- Fullbody decoys work well and make sense economically for hunting over spreads of 10 decoys or less.
- Sandhill crane decoys with powder coated stakes help reduce glare and reduce rust.
- Windsocks and silhouette decoys are lightweight and easy to carry for long distances.
- Cranes are vocal birds and having a crane call to respond to them will help build their confidence and get their attention. I’ve used the Haydel’s Sandhill Crane Call with good success. Click here to check it out Cabelas.
About Hunting Sandhill Cranes with Decoys
Sandhill crane hunting over decoys is an exciting experience. The view of these large birds locked up over decoys and coming in close just can’t be compared. There are three types of Sandhill crane decoys that harvest the most Sandhill cranes in the U.S. and Canada each year.
Types of Sandhill Crane Decoys
- Fullbody Sandhill Crane Decoys – Fullbody Sandhill crane decoys are constructed out of foam and plastic and are fully encapsulated. The profile of fullbody decoys and feather detail is the most realistic. Fullbody decoys that are not collapsible can be difficult to pack in and out of fields.
- Windsock Sandhill Crane Decoys – Windsock decoys are made with a chloroplast 2D head attached to a windsock body. Sandhill crane windsock decoys work best in windy conditions where the windsock can waddle to create lifelike movement.
- Silhouette Sandhill Crane Decoys – Silhouette decoys are 2D plastic cutouts that have a lifelike photo of a crane imprinted on both sides. Sandhill crane silhouette decoys can be stacked easy which makes packing in large spreads easier. Silhouette decoys lack the 3D view that fullbodies and windsocks have which helps when cranes are hovering directly above the decoys.
Sandhill cranes can be harvest successfully over each of these three types of decoys. Fullbody decoys are the best decoys to hunt Sandhill cranes with. Their realism is unmatched and if you’ve hunted with Don Mintz or Deception decoys you already know that cranes can’t resist them.
Fullbody Sandhill crane decoys are really expensive and the sticker shock of $200 or more for 6 decoys is hard to fathom. Windsocks are a decent alternative that are affordable for larger spreads.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to hunt Sandhill cranes over a large spread of fullbodies, but it’s hard to justify the cost. The best method I’ve found is to use windsocks and silhouettes as filler decoys up wind to build numbers and then place the fullbody decoys with better detail in the kill hole.
This combination of decoys doesn’t seem to affect how cranes work the spread and it’s a great way to get their attention with more decoys. If you’re hunting small groups of Sandhill cranes, then 6 or less high quality fullbody decoys in the area they are feeding in is all you need.
The Gaining Popularity of Hunting Sandhill Cranes
The popularity of Sandhill crane hunting has grown considerably within the past few years. With the advent of filming hunts and the amount of crane hunts that make their way onto YouTube, hunters are willing to give it a try.
And it makes plenty of senses to try something new if duck and goose hunting is inconsistent but there are a lot of cranes around. Add to the fact that cranes will decoy to as little as 1 or 2 decoys and it can make for some quick and easy hunts.
Sandhill cranes are some of the best tasting game birds that you can hunt. Sandhills are regularly known as the “Rib-eye of the sky”. It’s actually true. Sandhill cranes don’t have the gamey taste that waterfowl do and the breast meat resembles a large steak.
If you’re new to Sandhill Crane Hunting, grab a few decoys and give it a try. Seeing and hearing these large birds locked up with their feet down coming into the decoys is a hunting experience like no other.
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