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Powderhorn WMA hunt this weekend

3,486 Views | 25 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Aggieangler93
phorizt
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My son was drawn for a hunt on the Powderhorn WMA this weekend for Axis, Sambar, Whitetail and he's really excited about it. I've read recent updates that say that the Sambar population has been reduced by close to 80% now and the Axis are getting scarce also so it isn't quite what it was before unfortunately. Should still be a great weekend outdoors. Hopefully he can still have an opportunity to harvest something as this is the only hunt he's been able to do in 2 years. Weather forecast looks like nice temps in the 50s-low 60s and rain all weekend so we've got the rain gear ready to go.

Anyone who has done this hunt before have any suggestions on how to hunt this place? I've read some threads on TBH which had some good advice, just thought I'd check on here. Also, anyone know how cell service is down there? Curious if I need to download maps on my phone or if service will be good enough not to worry about it.

AgEng06
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AG
I don't have any advice/experience, but I'm in for the trip report.

Good luck to him.
Beckdiesel03
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AG
We have a house across from there and drive and boat all around it and never have a problem with cell service. Not the fastest ir greatest but not a total loss of service.
ttha_aggie_09
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That should be a fun hunt! Did the freeze kill of the Sambar or is it due to hunting? Really odd exotics that I always enjoyed seeing from the road on the way to POC.

Good luck and post pics of the hunt!
college of AG
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My son drew that hunt a few years ago. I remember cell service being fine.

Incredible place. Like anything, it depends on your location on what you see. The brush is really thick there. There are some stands that they baited when we went but I don't think anything was killed from a stand.

Axis-. They told us if you want an axis and see spots, you better pull the trigger. Pretty sure no axis came to camp.

Whitetail- they are there. We saw does. Prob some big ones hiding.

Sambar. This was a few years ago and the stags were thinning pretty good. The people with the best luck would ride sxs pretty quick down the roads with someone up top and scout. The sambar are used to the sxs action and it didn't bother them. Then park and sneak up. They also like to stand about knee deep in water.

We had a great time. We didn't see anything until some folks killed out and left and we got more territory. We saw 2 groups of female sambar before lunch but son passed hoping for a stag. After lunch never saw anything.

Good luck! Show us what you get
BlockerBLDG
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AG
My son drew in 2020 and he got a pretty good sambar stag. only 1 axis harvested but some really nice WT bucks taken. Here are some tips:

  • Stands are elevated and open, so you definitely want to think about scent control because wind just comes through
  • Think 360 degrees. Most stands have a 1/2 mile walk in. We only saw 1 sambar in front of us, but had several crossing the walk in road behind us. Just have eyes all around. If we did not have luck that first day with the stag, we might have done a pop up blind up the road a little (still looking down the shooting lane) to catch those crossroads.
  • The thickets and thorns out there are NO JOKE. Do whatever you can to shoot the animal away from the brush so if it runs 75 yards, it will not get in there. They said that have had to give up the tracking on some animals because it was too hard to get in to thickets (especially with large animals).

Have fun!! Some pics from my son's hunt in 2020.





phorizt
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ttha_aggie_09 said:

That should be a fun hunt! Did the freeze kill of the Sambar or is it due to hunting? Really odd exotics that I always enjoyed seeing from the road on the way to POC.

Good luck and post pics of the hunt!
I don't believe the freeze had anything to do with it, TPWD's policy is to exterminate the exotics to restore the place to its natural condition with only native wildlife so they've been hunted hard since they started doing draw hunts down there. Not sure if they've done any kind of population control measures outside of the hunts they hold there. Kind of a bummer to have such a unique place with unique wildlife species for texans to enjoy and they are trying to get rid of the axis/sambar.
ttha_aggie_09
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Well that stinks to hear... I am not overly familiar with Sambar/Rusa, outside of seeing them 10-15 years ago for the first time in POC and wondering what the hell they are. Wasn't sure if they are cold intolerant and took a hit.

I understand the idea of returning the area to a more "natural" state with indigenous species only but that is a damn cool animal that I don't think I have seen anywhere else in the state. And I don't know why you would want to get rid of axis. Reduce the population, sure - but eliminate them?
AgEng06
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Tin foil hat theory... money. Eliminate the free-ranging exotics so high fence operations can continue to monopolize and sell hunts for them.
killbutchereat
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I did the exotic hunt last month. Cell service with AT&T was totally fine. Bring rubber boots as there is standing water everywhere. Being a little cooler you might want to consider hip boots or something to stay a little more dry. In the mornings the dew was heavy and my pants got wet walking through the brush but it wasn't cold so it was fine.

I saw one stag within an hour of getting out there but unfortunately was armed with a bag of alfalfa pellets not my rifle. Didn't see him or any other sambar or axis again. If I did it again I wouldn't bother with corn or alfalfa.

According to a guy who killed one and saw many, they like to stand in the deeper pools that can be easily identified on Google satellite maps. They're much darker in color on the maps. Identify those, and walk in to them. Some guys who had done the hunt before planned to drive the roads and glass into those pools then make a stalk in. I walked to every pond in my section, twice. Then was given another section and I walked all of those. Saw lots of whitetail and could have easily had a shot on those.

Staff was super helpful, call Dan Walker with any questions and he's happy to talk to you. I popped a tire in the field and one of the staffers drove out to me with an air compressor to fill up and get back to the barn to change it and they'd already pulled out a floor jack for me. If you get something on the ground you call and they'll come load it up in their mule with a winch after you field dress it. That would be super helpful as one of the stags killed on my hunt was 340 pounds dressed.

My hunt was one of the least successful hunts since they started doing them about 5 years ago. I think there were 2 stags, 2 hinds, 1 axis doe and 1 pig killed. They did say they're trying to eliminate all the exotics from the property so they've been pretty well shot out.

I had a blast out there. Very different country than I've ever hunted. The brush is thick, but very little thorns or stickers. So if you want to go somewhere and are willing to push through it, you can get there.

I stayed at an Airbnb in Alamo Beach that was just a single wide trailer but was the same price as a hotel in POC. Liked having the kitchen and a recliner after all the miles i put in.

Finally, if any of you can get down there, the odds of being drawn on standby are significantly better than getting drawn in the lotto. There were only 15 groups standing by when I went. 1/15 >>>1/10000 with cubed points

Feel free to reach out if you have more questions
killbutchereat
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Oh is this the youth hunt? Scrap the things I said about bait and walking around. Pretty sure you can't leave the blinds. Definitely use bait and you'll probably get a shot at a whitetail at the least
phorizt
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killbutchereat said:

Oh is this the youth hunt? Scrap the things I said about bait and walking around. Pretty sure you can't leave the blinds. Definitely use bait and you'll probably get a shot at a whitetail at the least
I hope that isn't the case for the youth hunts. We were definitely planning on covering some ground.
college of AG
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On our youth hunt @powderhorn we were allowed to walk and do anything. Walk to water holes
ShinerDunk93
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No help on the hunt but Habaneros restaurant in Port Lavaca has really good breakfast
TexAgs: as long as we have each other, we will never run out of problems.

Proud member of the LGBFJB community
Shoefly!
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How is the Sambar blackstrap?
phorizt
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hunt recap..

We were given a pretty small unit(probably 250 acres) and it was 80-90% impenetrable brush. It was actually really dry on Saturday and I never got my boots wet. We had 1 pond we could get to that had water. It rained Sat night and there was a lot more standing water on Sunday.

First day 6 hours of hunting and only saw birds. Did some driving around, walked around on foot some and then sat in the blind to end the day. Next morning after the front came through spent a couple hours in the other blind bc it looked like it was going to rain again but after that passed we got out and put in some miles on the ground. At this point we had been hunting for 8 hours in our compartment and not seen a single 4 legged animal and I was getting worried it was going to be a complete bust.

There was one marshy area in our compartment at the very front and another 3/4 mile long open area that snaked parallel to the road but was separated from the road by a strip of brush/trees. The open area is around 100 yards across in most areas but has some trees/brush scattered throughout also. The downside was that everything in the open area was 4-5' tall. Literally the only way we could see anything was if it had antlers sticking up.

First we went over to the marshy area to check it out and did not see anything but there was some fresh sign so that was encouraging. This was the area that the biologist told us had been really slow and she recommend we hunt the other end of the unit. So we left that and began heading over to still hunt along the other open area that snaked along the road towards the back. As we were starting through the chest high grass we bumped a small whitetail buck at 40 yards as I came around a corner but my son never even saw it. We continued on and about 15 minutes later we are walking through the grass and I noticed something moving about 150 yards ahead. At first I thought we had spooked another buck and it was running away from us. As I watched though, i realized that it was a very nice whitetail buck and he was running literally right at us. It was pretty windy and wet and the wind was in our favor.

As the buck closed the distance I hurried to get the tripod set up(not real easy in 4' tall super thick weeds/grass) and had my son get his gun set up. The buck was coming pretty fast and my son could not see it at all. Finally the buck gets to edge of a group of trees 15 yards in front of us and turns to go around those and my son finally was able to see it. I whistled to stop and he stopped broadside at 15 yards in a small opening but my son couldn't find it in the scope at that distance. The buck turned and ran back the way he came from so I whistled again and he stopped again at 20 yard to try to figure out what was going on. I'm watching the buck and telling my son to shoot but didn't realize that he thought the buck had kept running straight and was looking through his scope almost 90 degrees in the wrong direction. I thought there was no way we would get a shot as I pulled my son's head away from the scope so he could see where the buck was standing and staring at us 20 yards away. He swung the gun around and was able to find the buck immediately and squeeze off a shot.

The buck was obviously hit when he ran around another patch of brush so we gave him a few minutes and went and checked out the spot where he was standing and there was blood sprayed everywhere so I knew he would be far. We started following it and about 40 yards away we found the buck. Perfect shot right through the shoulder. It was a very nice 16" wide mainframe 4x5 with and extra kicker on one side so it had 10 total points. He was busted up pretty good though with almost an entire g2 broken off plus 2 more tines halfway broken off. The drag out was not much fun a few hundred yards through some extra thick stuff.

My son will be 15 next month and has been hunting for 5 years and this is his first buck. he has put in a lot of hours hunting and we've just never been able to get a shot at anything legal. This was a moment we'll both remember for a lifetime.

after taking care of the buck we headed to Port Lavaca and had a good lunch at Lava BBQ. Then headed back to Powderhorn to see if we could find a Sambar in the afternoon....
rock08
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Awesome

Post pics when you get them!
Milwaukees Best Light
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Hell yeah!
phorizt
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so after lunch the plan was to pick up where we left off in the morning and finish slowly still hunting the remaining 1/2 mile of the open stretch that snaked along the road. We figured we'd spend a couple of hours finishing that up and then head home a little early since we had about a 7 hour drive home last night. We made it all the way through the open area and did not see anything at all but did bump something in the brush right at the end but never saw it. We head back to the truck and figured the hunt was over and started driving towards the exit of our compartment. I stopped the truck for something and looked up and thought I saw something orange in the road 400 yards ahead. Pulled out the binos and it was a Sambar hind crossing the road. So we jump our, dig out the gun, tripod etc and head down to where we thought she was. I thought she was headed to the one pond w water in it but we looked and looked and never found her.

So we headed back to the truck and figured that was the end of the hunt again. Once we got near the front of the compartment I decide we should hop out and check the marshy area we had checked earlier in the day one more time before heading home. We get out there and have to kind of walk halfway across the South end of the marsh to see into the NE corner and just when we get out there I see something really big standing in the back corner of the marsh facing away from us. At first I though it was a big calf bc we had a herd of cow/calf pairs roaming our area that we kept bumping into. After watching it a while I saw it was a Sambar. It looked huge so I thought maybe it was a stag that had already shed his antlers.

In order to close the distance to get a shot we had to back up to the east, cross and opening and then work our way along the brush line where I thought we could get within about 100 yards. So we start backing out and I look up and 40 yards in front of us behind an oak tree there is a Sambar standing there looking our direction. We've been busted but can't get a shot. We had a 15 minute stare-down with it and finally it turned and walked out of view.

After it walked away we head across the opening and down the brush line. We get to the corner where we can look around and the other Sambar is still in the marsh but about 150 yards away. We scoot out away from the brush and set up for a shot. The biologist told us to aim for the neck on the Sambar so Eli got set up and squeezed off a shot. The Sambar jumps and moves a few steps, looks around and then continues feeding. We chamber another round, get set up and Eli shoots again and the Sambar runs straight into the brush. We gave it a few minutes then headed over to check it out and never found any sign of blood/hair. Pretty sure he missed it both shots.

We had a great time and Eli got his first buck so it was a great weekend. The Sambar would have been icing.

cupofjoe04
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Awesome! Congrats! Sounds like a great hunt with your boy. Love to see some pics when you get 'em!
ttha_aggie_09
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Awesome job!! Can't wait for pics
phorizt
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I always forget to take many pics. here are a few:

our compartment:



First stand location is at the end of the oven mit overlooking a huge field in the neighboring compartment. They put this blind up 2 days before the hunt along the fence line and said the sambar can't jump fences so they like to walk the fence lines. we could see half a mile up and down the fencelines and out over the field but still didn't see any deer. We did see a few sandhill cranes walking up and down the road in the big field:



Deer pics. The buck was busted up missing almost his entire left g2 plus had a couple of other points that were probably missing half of the tines. Buck was turned quartering toward us a little so entry on far shoulder was right on the shoulder and exit back through the lungs. it left quite a trail to follow. he was shooting a 7mm-08 Kimber Hunter using Hornady 150 grain ELDX ammo.





lunch at Lavaca BBQ was pretty good. Eli said 30% of the reason he goes hunting is because we try to eat well on these trips. We also has Los Patrones in Giddings on the way down and Bubba's Cajun Seafood in Seadrift so the food was good



ontherocks
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Congrats phorizt!
26 Power
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Congrats on a great adventure and successful hunt. Thank you for sharing the report!
TRIDENT
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Way to go!
Aggieangler93
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Thanks for posting. Glad your son got to drop a WT and sorry the Sambar seemed just out of reach. Sounds like a wonderful weekend.
Class of '93 - proud Dad of a '22 grad and a '26 student!
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