Utah's Marsh Lands With Fried Feathers
Growing up hunting was always a big part of my family, and in many ways it still is. When I was 14 I drew out my first swan permit and I hit the marshes with my dad. Something I will never forget!
By early November, more than 25,000 Tundra swans fly into Utah. Only a lucky 2,000 hunters receive a swan hunting permit. And Utah is one of the few places in the country where you have the opportunity to hunt swans. When I applied for my permit in July I wasn't sure what to expect, I had drawn out a swan permit twice before and many people wait years to get just one chance! I was so excited when I got the email, I'd be out on the marsh again with my dad.
This season was oddly warm - my dad and I suited up on a Friday afternoon, and the highs were in the 60's at Harolds Crane. Sunshine, zero wind, it was absolutely beautiful. My kind of hunting weather - but not usual hunting weather. We had a few birds come in and I wasn't able to close the deal on any of them.
So we tried again, Tuesday afternoon! We decided to try out Ogden Bay - Alec was able to head out with us and it was still very warm. I was in some sweats, waders, a sweater and a hat! Not the typical wardrobe for the marsh. This hunt was so crazy, we sat for about an hour or two - it feels like forever sometimes - and we didn't see or hear a single bird! Then just before sun down, swarms of swans (say that 10 times fast) came circling in. So many birds, and a few even came close enough to take, but I just couldn't make it happen! We packed up another unsuccessful day and I was really frustrated, I once had a really great shot but I was definietly a little rusty.
My dad took me out a third time, we headed back out to Harold's Crane. Except this time the temps were in the high 30's and there was a bit of a breeze - now that it's been a low of 0 degrees I feel like I have no room to complain but I thought it was FREEZING! We hadn't been there long, I didn't even time to put the GoPro on my head when these beautiful swans came in. It's a very strange adrenaline rush, the wooping and calling of the birds starts to blend in with the wooping and calling of my dad, and all the sudden you hear "KYLEE SHOOT EM!"
Finally I had taken down my swan! My dad waded over with this beautiful, huge, white bird, my first white bird! The adrenaline rush sticks around for a minute, I couldn't even notch my tag I was shaking so much.
Such a beautiful bird, and I can't wait to hang it above my fire place - hopefully coming soon!
People travel from all over the states to hunt these beautiful birds, and if you're coming in from so far away, its definietly worth getting a guide to make sure you can have the best opportunities to get your tag filled!
This past season, Fried Feathers Outfitters was able to harvest 37 swans. They met numerous limits on ducks, and you can find them on KSL Outdoors. So here's where to start if you want to hunt a swan:
Visit the DNR website
You must apply for a permit, they start taking applications around July
You must also complete the orientation course, this makes sure you have all the necessary information about swans. As well as helping you identify the difference between a Tundra swan and a Trumpeter swan in flight. Both are legal to shoot, but the Division discourages you from shooting trumpeter swans.
By the end of July you will know if you have drawn out for a swan tag or not - good luck!