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Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report #8454607 11/20/21 05:39 PM
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dkershen Offline OP
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When I drew a tag for this hunt I couldn't find much info on the web to help me prepare. Now that I've done it, I figure a blog for future hunters to reference will come in handy.

The first and foremost thing you need to know about this hunt is that access to the island is by boat only. Roughly a 20 min trip across the bay from Port O Connor. If you don't have a seaworthy boat, there are a couple of fishing guides the Port O Conner Chamber of Commerce can recommend to ferry you. My cost was $200 round trip.

All the hunters are pretty much required to stay on the island and tent camp during the hunt. There are a handful of covered shelters in the camping area about 100 yards from the dock, and I suggest you get there early enough to claim one. Here's what they all look like.

[Linked Image]

And here's what it looked like after setting up camp. There is a constant breeze on the island so bring tarps to create a wind break. The camping area is also covered in sand burrs so you'll want tarps to put under your tent as well. The utility wagon you see in the pic was a life saver for me since I was doing this hunt solo. Got borrowed over and over by other campers. Makes hauling 100lb coolers full of ice a lot easier. up

[Linked Image]

It's primitive camping with no electric or water in the camp site. There is a bathroom and one outdoor shower that run's on non-potable water. But... for my trip the well was down so they locked us out of the bathroom and everyone had to take a shovel and head to the bushes. They also have a skinning shelter with gantrels by the hunter check-in station, but of course the water hose there didn't do us any good. I highly recommend you call ahead to see if the well is working. If not you'll need to haul in a lot more water for your hunt to handle cleaning, butchering and bathing. The weather for this hunt is typically warm.. 60's, 70's or even 80's on some days. So deer can't be hung overnight. You need to quarter them and get them on ice ASAP.

After arrival on the first morning the TPWD crew will call everyone to the hunter check station (about 200 yards past the camping area) for orientation and to draw for stand-by hunters. About half of the drawn hunters no-showed this year which they say is typical for this hunt. There were probably 20 locals, mostly shrimpers and fisherman from the area, waiting trying for a standby slot. I'd say stand-by success was roughly 50% of the folks that showed. Once they have the permits all filled you draw a blind number out of a hat. There were around 25 blinds open for this hunt spread up and down the 30 miles of island. Experienced hunters were hoping for far south or north blinds based on past success. But no one on our hunt didn't see deer, so any blind can be a good one IMO. Here's a map (blinds not shown). https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/wma/images/MIrevised.gif

They tell you to bring rubber boots for a good reason. Most of the blinds require a least some trekking through mud or water. Walks to the blinds can be as short as 10 yards, but most are 100-300 yards of walking. Some as much as a mile. The first blind I drew #16 was marked "Wet Walk", and turned out to be more than that. At one point I had to walk 40 yards through swamp over the top of my boots. I called the biologist that had dropped me off and asked to move to any other open blind because I didn't want to try and float a buck out of that swamp. (yes there are gators) Ends up that blind was unhuntable unless you were really determined and had hip or chest waders. So I was given blind #10 which is roughly mid-island. It only had about 50 yards of ankle deep mud to deal with which was no biggie.

My first 3 sit's were in blind #10 and here are a couple videos of the view and terrain. I saw multiple deer each sitting, and at one point took and missed a very long ill advised shot on a nice10pt in a heavy cross wind. Still kicking my self for trying it, but it was a clean miss. There are no feeders or baiting allowed, and you can ONLY shoot from a blind, so the entire game is waiting for a cruising buck or doe to come past your stand.

View from blind #10 during my first evening sit.

Young 6pt buck that came right past me on the first evening hunt in blind #10.

My last sit of the hunt on the morning of day 3 I asked to move to an open blind (#4) on the north end of the island near the light house. Here are some pics and a video from that blind. Note how deep the grass is in this series of pic's. In a lot of cases deer can walk past you at 100 yards and you'd never see them.

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


Blind #4 on North end by the lighthouse.


To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

www.NewHopeEquine.com - Health and Healing through Horses.
Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454615 11/20/21 05:53 PM
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dkershen Offline OP
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Turns out moving to blind #10 was a great idea. By 7:45 that morning I'd already seen a small 6pt, a doe, and was watching a nice 8pt in the distance when a mature 11pt pushing a doe popped up at 50 yards. When I saw his width and split brow tines I knew he was the one I wanted and dropped in on the spot.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Turns out this buck was the best scoring and heaviest (100lbs) of the hunt. Overall 20 hunters harvested 24 deer, majority of which were bucks. This was a 2 deer hunt, one doe and one buck greater than 13 inches.

IMO the whitetail deer on this island should be considered their own sub-species like Coues deer. My understanding is that they've been here hundreds of years, and most likely came over when at one point a natural land bridge existed. They are all small bodied and have adapted to survival on a shadeless windswept island. There are reports of piebald deer on the island, and most of the deer I saw where light blonde like my buck.


To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

www.NewHopeEquine.com - Health and Healing through Horses.
Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454649 11/20/21 06:49 PM
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dkershen Offline OP
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Some more general info you'll want to know about this hunt. The fishing is typically pretty good. I only fished a short time one afternoon, but several other hunters did and you have a chance to catch both spec's and red's. I suggest bringing chest waders and a small box of soft plastics. Here's the only fish I caught.

[Linked Image]

There are a lot of plusses and minuses to this trip.
Minuses - Wind, mosquitos, rattlesnakes, swamp, primitive camping and long bumpy rides in a pickup bed on a hard board seat.
Did I mention rattlesnakes? I saw a huge one up close on my first day that was hiding beside the chair I was asked to take to my blind. And one of the other campers made a mistake of leaving his tent unzipped. Had a 4 footer waiting in his tent when he came back from the morning hunt.

Plusses - Beautiful scenery, a high chance of tagging a deer, fishing opportunities and a hunting experience you won't find anywhere else.

I personally won't go again on a solo version of this trip. I was the only guy that didn't have at least one hunting buddy helping out and the work involved kicked my azz. If I had 1 or 2 buddies (with strong backs) that want to go back, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Here are some more random pic's I took. If anyone has questions about this draw hunt, feel free to PM.

[Linked Image]
The buildings you see in the back ground are part of the abandoned Air Force base that was closed in the 70's. Some of the best hunting can be on the north end of the island in blinds adjacent to the old runways. The open areas create good visibility.

[Linked Image]
Running too and from your blind in a pickup bed can be back breaking. The drive to the south end of the island can be 45min or more. See the smart old timer that brought a cushion to sit on (I did as well).

[Linked Image]
Sunrise view of the lighthouse from blind #4.

[Linked Image]
Getting a trophy pic under a palm tree just up from the beach.

The biologists and rangers that run this hunt are super nice and helpful as they can be. Dan, Tori, Jeremy and crew want to see as much success as possible, but do emphasize safety, as they should. If any of them read this, thanks again for your help! You hosted as good a hunt as possible under the circumstances.


To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

www.NewHopeEquine.com - Health and Healing through Horses.
Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454686 11/20/21 07:38 PM
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Great post! And congrats on the buck!!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454742 11/20/21 09:23 PM
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Making me wish I hadn't sold the Key West 22' Deep V Bay boat, .... great pic's and can't thank you enough for the info.
Ron


It is TIME for Term Limits, cause Politicians are like childrens diapers and for the same reasons...Robin Williams

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Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454773 11/20/21 10:16 PM
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Thanks for posting. Congratulations on a great hunt.

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454795 11/20/21 10:33 PM
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Great writeup and pictures! Bound to be helpful to anyone on this hunt! Congrats on a fine yet unusual buck!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454833 11/20/21 11:42 PM
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That’s a really unique buck, congrats

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8454904 11/21/21 01:49 AM
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Great write up Dave. Congrats on the buck!


5303

LETS GO BRANDON
Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: TXHOGSLAYER] #8454951 11/21/21 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by TXHOGSLAYER
Great write up Dave. Congrats on the buck!


Yep!

Congrats and thanks for posting!


Originally Posted by Chunky Monkey
Never been to a camping world. I prefer Dick's to be honest.
Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8455045 11/21/21 03:57 AM
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Love to hear about the successes of the public hunts! Great stories for a long time.

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8456062 11/22/21 02:26 PM
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That is awesome. Think of the things that deer saw in 5+ years, and how hard it would be to survive some of those events. What a trophy.

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8456112 11/22/21 03:10 PM
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Congrats on your buck! He looks old! Did they age him?
Thanks for posting a great write up, a lot of details that will be instrumental for anyone going out there!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: gettinbirdie] #8456128 11/22/21 03:30 PM
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dkershen Offline OP
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Originally Posted by gettinbirdie
Congrats on your buck! He looks old! Did they age him?

Biologist aged him at 5.5.


To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

www.NewHopeEquine.com - Health and Healing through Horses.
Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8456150 11/22/21 03:49 PM
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very cool.. I fish out of Port O'Connor and have been out there to check it out.
Definitely gator country.
People don't expect a gator to cross 5 miles of open bay but they are out there.
Not "overly" concerned about them, used to waterski the Aransas river and camp on the banks and there were always gators around.
Dad and uncle used to hunt them, hammer to the skull, pistol, etc..

Having said that, I am not going to get out of the boat to wade into an area if I see one!

A guy got attacked I believe 2 years ago right there.

Congrats!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8460368 11/27/21 10:11 PM
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This is great, love the write up and congrats on the success!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8460697 11/28/21 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by dkershen
Turns out moving to blind #10 was a great idea. By 7:45 that morning I'd already seen a small 6pt, a doe, and was watching a nice 8pt in the distance when a mature 11pt pushing a doe popped up at 50 yards. When I saw his width and split brow tines I knew he was the one I wanted and dropped in on the spot.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Turns out this buck was the best scoring and heaviest (100lbs) of the hunt. Overall 20 hunters harvested 24 deer, majority of which were bucks. This was a 2 deer hunt, one doe and one buck greater than 13 inches.

IMO the whitetail deer on this island should be considered their own sub-species like Coues deer. My understanding is that they've been here hundreds of years, and most likely came over when at one point a natural land bridge existed. They are all small bodied and have adapted to survival on a shadeless windswept island. There are reports of piebald deer on the island, and most of the deer I saw where light blonde like my buck.


Congrats on what I would say is one of the most unique trophys in Texas this year! That sounds like a tough hunt, you must be really mad at those deer. smile

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8461510 11/29/21 12:31 PM
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Dave,
Congrats on the buck and thanks for the very informative write-up. Looks like you had a memorable hunt, with a great view, and got a very nice public land buck!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8461558 11/29/21 01:38 PM
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Great post and deer. I would definitely do this hunt!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8473238 12/12/21 02:05 PM
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Congrats on your deer and hunt! Nice write up and thanks for sharing!

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8473456 12/12/21 04:34 PM
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Loved your write up, thanks for sharing

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8474319 12/13/21 03:23 PM
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Great write up.

Me and two buddies were selected to hunt the second session this year. It was my first time to hunt the island, but my buddies had been before. It is a very different hunt, but I enjoyed it and we all had some success as well.

Here was our camp set up

[Linked Image]

I drew stand 7 and one of the staff members told me that it was a really good spot and I should have some success. During my first afternoon sit, I was watching a good 6 point feed at around 300 yards. The I saw movement to my right and noticed a deer with darker antlers working my way and decided I was going to shoot him if I got the chance. He stopped and fed at a spot I had ranged at 150 yards, but I could never get a clear view for a shot. He finally moved, but disappeared. My heart sank because these deer can absolutely disappear in an instant, but then he quickly reappeared in a small opening. I settled my cross hairs on him, squeezed the trigger, and heard the "pop" of the impact. I saw him disappear. I gave him a few minutes and went to where I last saw him. He was DRT.

I knew when I first saw him that he looked lighter in color, but I didn't realize until I walked up on him that he was piebald. Truly a buck of a lifetime. The park staff had seen him a few times during their surveys.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

For dinner we grilled the deer heart and some fish that we caught.

The next day I moved and hunted the lighthouse. It was an interesting set up and I saw one small 4pt.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]

The sunrises are amazing.
[Linked Image]

As the OP said, this hunt is unique. The grass is at least waist high and deer can show up anywhere. It was weird to be glassing an area and all of the sudden see a face pop up out of the weeds. smile From some stands you can have a shot over 500 yds. One young guy who was in our truck said he ran out of ammo the day before taking long shots at deer.

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8474412 12/13/21 04:25 PM
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Glad you both had great time, and 2 really nice deer up up


ElkOne
Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: dkershen] #8476228 12/15/21 04:22 AM
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Congrats on the success! This hunt is one you will never forget.

Re: Matagorda Island Deer Hunt Report [Re: salth2o] #8476246 12/15/21 04:44 AM
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dkershen Offline OP
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Originally Posted by salth2o

[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]


Great job! The piebald doe I saw looked just like that. up

How many deer where taken this go around? And did they have the well fixed?


To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

www.NewHopeEquine.com - Health and Healing through Horses.
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