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TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? #7666812 11/19/19 08:30 PM
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TravisBadlands27 Offline OP
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Howdy,

My brothers and I drew a hunt for white tail and unlimited hog in Aransas NWR for the third group Dec. 14-18th. Has anyone done a hunt out there? any tips ? only thing i can really find online is from 5 years ago. I dont expect much luck this late in the season but seeing as how ive never hunted down there, I dont really know what to expect. Anything is welcomed. Thanks.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7666817 11/19/19 08:35 PM
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Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: rolyat.nosaj] #7666832 11/19/19 08:45 PM
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TravisBadlands27 Offline OP
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Awesome thanks!

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7666856 11/19/19 09:00 PM
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Hey, I did this same hunt last year actually and got a little buck. Bring a tripod or two for each of you, wadders, and bug spray. Even with cold mornings, the mosquitos came out in force when it warmed up a bit.
Last year was very wet, so not sure how it will be this year - but the guidance I received from another guy who hunts it every year was to find the dry spots and hunt those. The deer stay out of the water, but if you can find dry trails you should be able to find them. I saw a ton of deer poop along the trails every day I walked them.

The weekend there were maybe 80 hunters, but once Monday hit there were fewer and fewer as the hunt went on.By the last day it was me and maybe 15 other people. I never thought it was over crowded though. It's a big area.

As far as the terrain goes (again, I only have one years experience and it was a wet year), it's mostly tall salt grass and heavy brush. No trees you could hang a stand on I could see so only a 6-12 ft tripod would be worth bringing. A lot of the area was under water, so it was like hunting in a cold swamp which is why I really enjoyed wearing my gators. The buck I shot was on an old abandoned road and when he ran I found him floating in a large bog about the size of a football field in over 3 1/2 ft deep of water. If I didnt have wadders, I'd have never found him.
Have you received the Avenza map of the huntable area yet? If not, I can shoot it over to you so you can start e-scouting it.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: JB1316] #7666876 11/19/19 09:31 PM
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TravisBadlands27 Offline OP
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Yes I got that and been browsing On-X hunt but ive heard that map isnt very accurate. We were going to bring a ground blind but it seems a 6ft tripod is the best option because of the tall grass. I was reading through the same question on the bow hunting forum that was provided above and it appears to be alot dryer this year.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7666961 11/19/19 11:11 PM
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so they don't have the tripod that swivel any longer? A guy that works for me used to only public hunt and he went there several times. This has been a number of years back, maybe 10-12? He said they loaded people up on a bus or some type of vehicle and took off up the beach, every 400-600 yards, they would stop and drop off a hunter and there was a trail back into the dunes to a tripod for them to hunt, then the vehicle would continue another ways up the beach and repeat until all the hunters were dropped off. He shot a pretty decent old buck on day 2 but there weren't many hunters there, so they allowed those who already took a deer could stay for a 2nd opportunity. He got another old buck on the last day. Both were very heavy mass but not overly wide, probably 120-130 BC range from memory.


"everyone that lives dies but not everyone who dies lived..."

~PMK~
Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: PMK] #7667042 11/20/19 12:33 AM
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Definitely does not appear to be the case anymore. We get to scout the day before the hunt and then the gates open at 5am and they just seem to let everyone do their own thing

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7667050 11/20/19 12:39 AM
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The hunt area for Aransas NWR doesnt have a beach front, or didnt last year at least. The huntable area hovered along the middle or western side of the Refuge and stopped 100 yards from the western side towards St Charles Bay. You couldnt even hunt the area by the water on the east side. Last year it was just a free for all. You show up the day before and scout and drop your tripods and can mark off an area you'll be hunting. But it's pretty much wherever you can go.

I definitely wouldnt use a ground blind. I brought one too as I only had 1 tripod, and the game warden (officer Giles I believe) said there were a couple of spots you could use one, but I'd say a tripod would give you a significant advantage out there over a ground blind. I used OnX the whole time I was there and it was perfectly fine.

The game warden that works the refuge was a super nice guy, very friendly and never seemed to mind me picking his brain about the place once the other hunters started thinning out.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: JB1316] #7667681 11/20/19 04:59 PM
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TravisBadlands27 Offline OP
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Do you have any recommendations on sports i should scout or avoid in general? Dont think ill be able to get a stand in time so it looks like a ground blind or stalk may be my options.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7667929 11/20/19 08:05 PM
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Spots* not Sports

Originally Posted by TravisBadlands27
Do you have any recommendations on sports i should scout or avoid in general? Dont think ill be able to get a stand in time so it looks like a ground blind or stalk may be my options.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7668026 11/20/19 09:26 PM
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There was a game log at the front of the refuge that's hung on the freezer. Anyone who takes a deer needs to log which road or trail it came off of. The deer I shot the second morning was near the main road close to Spanish Village (just north of it on the main road) and I noticed later in the week another couple of deer had been taken in the same area. i'd def keep an eye on that log book as the week goes on and work the same areas noted on there. If one deer is taken from a place, good odds there are more that hang around there.
Deer where definitely all around though. I saw one along Cow Camp Road, one of the refuge workers said they see them along Lime Mesa, the main road, and were taken pretty much all over. If I didnt have a tripod, I'd plan to use the first couple of days on the West Side near St Charles Bay and would just walk those long trails along that side that head East from the road that boarders the Western part of the refuge. I walked those several days during the afternoon, and on one day walked one that went all the way to the other side of the refuge, so those old abandoned roads cover a lot of ground - the West side seemed to have a bit better visibility & less people which is why I think that may be better if you're walking.
I only hunted it last year so im no expert on the place, and didnt really explore the whole area so there may be a lot better places than I saw or went into, but if you spend sun up to sun down out there, be friendly and talk to the guys that work the refuge, I think you'll have a good chance at taking a deer over the week.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: JB1316] #7668047 11/20/19 09:44 PM
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Thanks a lot for the information. Ill be sure to circle that area on the map. We plan on staying the entire time (14th to 18th) in the hope that we all get a deer or some hogs. A day sitting in the field with a rifle is better than any work day eek

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7668265 11/21/19 12:53 AM
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You got that right. Especially if out with your family

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: JB1316] #7668974 11/21/19 06:53 PM
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You see a lot of Hogs out there? gonna bring the AR too I think

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7669156 11/21/19 10:55 PM
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I only saw one on a road early in the morning (pitch black still) on the way in one day, and dont recall seeing that anyone took one off hand while I was there, but the game warden & the guy I talked to a bit that hunted the place every year said it was over run with them and they were everywhere. I know they do wounded warrior hunts a couple of times a year out there for them and they really tear them up I hear.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: JB1316] #7669624 11/22/19 02:34 PM
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Another question, Do you have to process the deer at the Refuge? I know we have to field dress where we drop them but curious if there is a processor near by or do we just leave them in the fridge they have and take it where we want to go when finished?

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7669930 11/22/19 07:59 PM
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They have a freezer on the refuge right at the check in station you can leave your deer or hog in during the duration of the hunt. They have water and a cleaning station there is well if you're up to it - but I took my deer to Tuttle Meat Market in Refugio. I had to ask the guys at Tackle Town in Rockport who to use for processing as no one in the area could point me in the right direction. Tuttles was really good though, made really good dry sausage and had everything done in maybe 2 weeks.
https://tuttlesmeatmarket.com/game-processing

Not sure if you've been in this part of the State much or where you guys were going to be staying, but I'd def recommend going down to Rockport if you have time to fish for some Reds or Trout and grab some food.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: JB1316] #7669971 11/22/19 08:31 PM
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I live in the Houston area but went to college at TAMU-Corpus Christi so im pretty familiar with the area. We got a hotel in Rockport, so we definitely planned on doing some fishing for sure.

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7669982 11/22/19 08:43 PM
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Perfect, highly recommend grabbing a bite to eat at Arrandas just across from the beach entrance, and Benchwarmers in Fulton while there. And if you really want to pig out, Butterchurn, will be a good way to pack back on any calories you may burn while hunting the refuge. haha

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7670032 11/22/19 09:41 PM
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JB1316, very much appreciate all the information. Looking forward to hopefully a good week of hunting. My deep freezer is down to just some snapper and crane food

Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7674554 11/28/19 12:51 PM
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The one thing you have going this year is that it is the driest I've seen the refuge. Not sure how the deer are reacting to it, but it beats last year when a lot of the road system was underwater for about five months. I'm not sure if it matters to the mosquitoes or not. Just like the deer, I think the morning dew on the grass is enough to keep them going.

I fly a gathering system on the Refuge for a production outfit, with the lines flown being throughout the rifle hunt area. With the dry year, the right-of-ways are mowed, so that is good news. Usually, on the ROWs, the grass is too high for a popup to be useful except for bowhunting. Still, I would prefer a lightweight tripod. Be careful with its setup, this is very sandy country, and it is entirely possible that one leg with sink enough to cause problems. I have felt my tripod shift, I immediately hung my rifle by the sling on the branch of a tree, and swung off the seat like you would a saddle, and stepped on the ground. My 15' tripod was down. I would cut 18" plywood or particleboard squares, drill a hole in the middle, and then run a metal rod down through the hole in the tripod's foot through the pad and into the ground.

Not being a stranger to hunting on the Refuge, I attended the first bowhunt, but have lost track of what year that was ('65 ~ '67). I was a hardcore bowhunter at a very young age and was killing deer with a 37# recurve. I hunted the refuge regularly, slowly moving away from archery as I got older, to the rifle hunts. The last year I hunted was the year before TPWD took the application process. I was too used to how easy it was to obtain a permit to the place prior.

Personally, as far as hunting the north fence line, I think it a myth. The good country to the north, where you see a lot of deer, is way before the hunt area. Once in the hunt area, most of the country outside the refuge is marginal deer country and hunted very hard. If you could see from the air how little country is on the other and how much traffic is back there, you wouldn't bother. The rifle hunt area is a bit over 19K acres, and most of the appeal to me was the experience of being able to hunt away from a road and other hunters. Over the years, the largest bucks I've seen taken on the Refuge have been from the interior, not the north boundary.

I like working hard to set up in the interior. Look at Earth. There are a lot of good ROWs to hunt in the area surrounded by Middle and Bergentine Lake Roads. The various small roads will get you back to points on the major ROWs. You will need to walk from there. The last year I hunted, my neighbor wanted to learn the refuge, so we hunted the large NNW-SSE ROW as far as we could get between road access, about 1K yards. By noon the second day of the hunt, he was limited out, plus had killed a couple of hogs that we left. Check with the staff when you go in, but the "Friends of the Refuge" had run a hog contest (most killed). All you had to do was bring in the tail.

The Refuge does helicopter hunt hard. As soon as archery was over this year, they hulled them out, outside of the rifle hunt area.

Within the greater area that I outlined, I would like to look at the area that No Name road ends into. It is a complex area of seismic lines, most unmowed, but it appears very sandy, so it should be slightly higher country if there is such a thing on the place. If it is sand, the rattlesnakes might be an issue, but I would sure like to explore it.

Surface water. In that the Refuge is dry, the various tanks on the place might seem a reasonable place to hunt. I just saw some fellows go through great lengths to get large deer blinds near the water. I've never seen a deer at the tanks. My thinking about the refuge is that with the dry year, gators must go somewhere, and it would be any available water. I would think that the gator is the primary predator of the whitetail, so why would they expose themself to the threat when they don't have to? Very occasional, I see young hogs on the water, and there is no doubt they are making a poor choice. Just because you are in the dry country doesn't mean that you won't have a gator encounter. From the air, I have seen gators everywhere and in some of the most unlikely spots.

If anyone would like a kml file of the hunt area for use with Earth, PM me.


Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: TravisBadlands27] #7674705 11/28/19 03:22 PM
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I'm going to add that the Refuge is very certain under the influence of my "rule of halves": Each subsequent day of the hunt finds only half of the previous day's hunter present. Those that are successful stick it out. You should go in knowing that the terrain and hunting are tough. The fact that the area is a refuge does mean that it will be easy picking. The deer you shoot is likely to be the first deer you see after a lot of sitting. The presence of hunters is disturbing and the deer go to ground as the vegetation is thick. Normally, the deer on the 19K acres are likely to see only a couple of pickup trucks a day and maybe a tanker once every couple of days, with none of the traffic stopping except at the terminal ends of the roads. There are days that I fly it and there is not a human on the hunt acreage.


Re: TPWD Draw Hunt Aransas NWR, Tips? [Re: Ranch Dog] #7681509 Yesterday at 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranch Dog
I'm going to add that the Refuge is very certain under the influence of my "rule of halves": Each subsequent day of the hunt finds only half of the previous day's hunter present. Those that are successful stick it out. You should go in knowing that the terrain and hunting are tough. The fact that the area is a refuge does mean that it will be easy picking. The deer you shoot is likely to be the first deer you see after a lot of sitting. The presence of hunters is disturbing and the deer go to ground as the vegetation is thick. Normally, the deer on the 19K acres are likely to see only a couple of pickup trucks a day and maybe a tanker once every couple of days, with none of the traffic stopping except at the terminal ends of the roads. There are days that I fly it and there is not a human on the hunt acreage.


Great information. We plan on hunting that entire week. If I can limit out, great, if not then it beats being in the office. Theres 3 of us hunting together. We have a couple blinds that we will set up but I may even try and do a stalk. Really just depends. They are calling for rain the night before we scout and then the weather should be high 60s so we might get lucky. Im going to bring the trusty .308 and maybe the AR for some hogs.

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