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Old 10-04-2016, 03:40 PM   #1
OldRiverRat
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Default National Refuge Youth Hunt - Rio Grande Valley East Lake

My daughter was drawn today for the National Refuge Youth Deer Hunt at Lower Rio Grande Valley - East Lake. This looks like it could be a really fun hunt, 2 deer either sex but one buck, unlimited Nigai and hogs.
Is anyone familiar with this refuge? would it be safe to bring my daughter?
any info would be appreciated.
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Old 10-05-2016, 10:20 PM   #2
JackRyan
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My son was drawn for the same hunt. Having never been to this area before I would also love to hear any info or tips. Thanks.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:52 AM   #3
JackRyan
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After looking at this spot more I'm kind of concerned about rifle hunting on a smaller spot and not having any idea where the other hunters will be setup.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:25 AM   #4
Muddy Bud
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How big is the place? And how many total hunters if known?
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Old 10-10-2016, 01:31 PM   #5
JackRyan
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Attaching a map of the East Tract. You can see that it isn't a very large area. There are 4 hunt dates and 40 permits. I'm assuming that's 10 permits for each hunt date.
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Old 10-10-2016, 02:12 PM   #6
Muddy Bud
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Not familiar with that area, but sure does look small on the map. Guess you can find out how many folks are hunting when you get to the parking area. Ware hunters orange, alot of it.
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Old 10-10-2016, 03:43 PM   #7
OldRiverRat
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its pretty thick country too, not sure it will set up well for a youth hunt. not 100% sure i will take my daughter. I tried calling the park when they transferred me to the guy coordinating the hunts it went to voice mail.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:17 PM   #8
Towboater
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If you all consider 1700 acres for 10 hunters small stay home. That map doesn't do that refuge any justice. That place is huge when you take into consideration that you have to bike, walk, and have to drag your harvest out. Pretty sure you all heard that most public hunters hunt less than half a mile from the parking lot so walk a little more to get away from them. I use small folding chairs, ghillie suit, hunter orange, and a game cart. If you all got drawn go hunt it cause it might be a while before you get picked again. Where else can you get a chance at a trophy buck or nilgai for that price.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:54 PM   #9
Etxnoodler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldRiverRat View Post
its pretty thick country too, not sure it will set up well for a youth hunt. not 100% sure i will take my daughter. I tried calling the park when they transferred me to the guy coordinating the hunts it went to voice mail.
If y'all decide not to go don't accept the permit. That way someone else can.
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:20 PM   #10
Chadhender
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By boy was selected for the January hunt, we are trying it out for sure.
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:45 PM   #11
JackRyan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Towboater View Post
If you all consider 1700 acres for 10 hunters small stay home. That map doesn't do that refuge any justice. That place is huge when you take into consideration that you have to bike, walk, and have to drag your harvest out. Pretty sure you all heard that most public hunters hunt less than half a mile from the parking lot so walk a little more to get away from them. I use small folding chairs, ghillie suit, hunter orange, and a game cart. If you all got drawn go hunt it cause it might be a while before you get picked again. Where else can you get a chance at a trophy buck or nilgai for that price.
We're looking forward to it and we'll hunt it hard and will walk all the way across and back if we need to. My only concern is the fact that it's a youth rifle hunt and we won't know where any one else is setup. I honestly don't know enough to know if that's something to be worried about or not.
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Old 11-14-2016, 03:18 PM   #12
JackRyan
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Talking East Lake Report (Long)

Warning - Long Post!
East Lake was a tough, grueling hunt. We biked and walked what seemed like miles and miles and we saw far less animals during the hunt than we had seen previously on our scouting trips. I think I went in with expectations set too high based what we had seen when scouting. In talking to some of the other hunters we met they also reported very few game sightings. We met hunters from Dallas and Houston and we felt fortunate to be hunting so close to our hometown of Brownsville. The first day we setup in what I felt sure was a prime spot with fresh sign and fresh tracks everywhere. We saw one pig about ten minutes after daylight and that was it. We stayed in that spot until noon and then moved south for mid-day and then went north for the afternoon hunt and didn't see animals. The second morning we setup in a spot shared with us by Towboater. Not too long after sun up we saw two, individual nilgai and one young doe but all three were way out of range and one of the nilgai was running across and never slowed down. We didn’t see any other game Saturday. On Sunday – our final day - we setup across from the area where we had seen two nilgai cross the previous day. We were setup and ready to go by 6:00am. The drizzle was heavier and more constant that it had been on Saturday. Daylight came and the first two hours passed and we hadn't see anything. I could tell my son was starting to lose some confidence and I have to admit I was also pretty discouraged and starting to think about what it would be like to go home without having fired a single shot. Then about 8:15 I saw movement way off and to our left. I kept looking and finally was able to make out a darker colored nilgai coming in our direction. I tapped my son on the leg and pointed in that direction. As soon as my son moved to put on his ear protection the nilgai stopped and stared directly in our direction. I couldn't believe that he could have spotted us at close to 300 yards away but he froze and looked directly in our direction for what seemed like ten minutes but was probably closer to 30-45 seconds. I was convinced he was about to spook and take off but he finally put his head back down and kept coming towards us. We used the opportunity he gave us with his head down to get the gun up on the shooting stick and my son started following him in the scope. At about 100 yards he was still coming towards us but he was also coming to an area where he would cross through some trees that might block any attempt at shot. My son whispered, "I'm going to shoot," I plugged my ears and focused as hard as I could on the nilgai. The gun shot shattered the morning silence like a canon blast and the nilgai jumped at least four feet off the ground, kicked both back legs straight back and started running for the brush across from us. My son quickly worked the bolt for a follow-up shot before it could disappear in the brush and fired his second shot. I could tell from the sound that his second shot was also a solid hit just before the nilgai made it to the brush line. We had been practicing for a follow up shot based on what we had read about nilgai. Both of our hearts were racing and I have to admit - we were both shaking. We got up and started making our way towards the opposite brush line where we had seen him go in. We found some tracks in the area but not definitive tracks and not a speck of blood anywhere. I started to worry...where they good shots? Are we going to find the animal? Are we going to have to search through some of the nastiest, cactus infested brush for 100's of yards??? My son went ahead of me and just started following the tracks we did see and only about 40 yards into the brush he yelled, “Dad I found him, he’s dead!” What a relief it was to see the niglai there on the ground not too far from the original shot. Pictures were taken and phone calls were made. Dragging the nilgai out of the brush was no easy task, it was all we could do to move it with both of us giving everything we had. I made a call to the USFW and asked if any officers might be able to help. Dispatch said no promises but she would put out a call. Once we got it out of the brush we field dressed the nilgai and to my immense relief two USFW officers showed up and helped us get the nilgai across the field and back to our vehicle. It was a great experience, definitely with some lows and highs and memories made that neither my son or I will ever forget. I’d like to thank Towboater for reaching out and sharing some of his info with me. That was a very kind gesture and we wouldn't have setup where we did if it weren’t for that information. Now we wait for the meat processor to call and let us know our nilgai is ready!
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Old 09-19-2017, 11:24 AM   #13
Quacksmacker84
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Default we will be there this year

my son was drawn for this hunt this year, wondering if you could relay some of those tips my way I have also never hunted this NWR. any info will help.
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Old 09-19-2017, 04:13 PM   #14
BOW BANDIT
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The place has lots of thick cover, It used to be farm land, a nasty place for people not used to the Rio Grande Valley brush.... lots of tall grass some times waist high with both native and non native cacti hidden in it, where there is cacti you will find rats and lots of rattle snakes so snake protection will be needed, be prepared to walk a ton as you all want to get away from the parking area as much as possible as most of the hunters will sit close to the parking area, be ready for the sketos if it rains in the days before the hunt. I have seen hunters RUN away from the refuge due to them sketos and never went back to it, DO NOT spot and stalk... as you might end up in someones cross hairs. and if you hear or see bees, turn around and walk away.. we have lots of Africanized bees here in the valley so don't risk it . I used to work for the refuge so I know the places quite well. The place is a great place to hunt as long as you are prepared and do your homework before heading out there. Just remember that there is only one parking place and that it will be a long walk if you decide to be far from the rest and that in case of an emergency you will have to walk that same distance back to your vehicle. I'm a former wildland firefigther / Paramedic for the refuge so I know what can happen if preparation is not in place. To all good luck on the hunts and if you all need some info please contact me.
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Old 09-26-2017, 09:33 PM   #15
bentstick
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My two sons also drew this tag(Dec), so I'm in for all the details anyone can share.
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