No problem. I’ll try to answer all of them.
The second hunt is usually the first weekend in December. This year it was a little early and started on November 29, I think. It’ll be right about December 1. You need to arrive as EARLY AS POSSIBLE on the day before the hunt starts. I mean, be at the dock at daylight to get scouting and mark your spot.
Ferries are available by commercial companies and private boat owners. I’ll try to dig up the list. They’re pretty reasonable and I think you can get there and back for about $100 per person.
The island does get very crowded because the majority of it is just palmettos and totally un-huntable. Having said that, I’ve never had an issue finding an area by myself and once you mark your area with toilet paper (on the side of the trail), everybody will respect it and leave you alone. There are deer all over the island but we’ve started hunting the north end because it’s the longest walk and fewest people. It takes us about 1-1 and 1/4 hrs to get to our stands. We stay out all day and pack a lunch and a book. When you kill something, you drag it back to the main road and the DNR people will pick it up for you and drive it back to camp on a gator. They make two rounds per day.
You only need a valid GA hunting license. A 3 day hunting license will work as long as you have a big game stamp and archery permit.
As far as packing, you just need a light treestand and climbing sticks. You can’t use screw in steps. Bring your regular camping gear and a good pair of hiking boots and a daypack. Bring wet weather gear no matter what the weather report calls for. An axe and a chainsaw is very helpful as there are plenty of down live oak limbs around camp to make fires with. Campfires can only be made with dead wood that you find. The DNR does usually cut up some wood and leave it for the taking in the middle of the campground but we just take ten minutes per day to gather dead limbs ourselves and live oak burns really well.
Alcohol is allowed, you just can’t possess it while hunting. I’ve never met a ranger there that wasn’t a great and easy-going individual. You can stump shoot on the island but in camp, you can only shoot in a designated area. Stump shooting on the beach and in the dunes is fantastic!
Camping is only allowed in the designated area by the dock. Everyone stays in the 10-20 acre campground which has a deer cleaning station and cooler, showers, water, etc. Fishing and crabbing is allowed and both can be very good I’m told. I imagine surf fishing off the beach would be great if you brought the right gear.
The pig populations vary greatly from year to year. They do some pig control on a lot of the islands. I’ve never actually seen a pig there but BuckyT saw a nice boar on the scouting day this year and I saw probably 10-15 pigs brought to the skinning shed.
The ride over in the boat is probably my favorite part. You usually see a lot of dolphins and porpoises, marsh hens, eagles, untold numbers of shorebirds and sea ducks.
It’s taken me three years to walk all the roads on the island and I’ve walked the entire eastern beach. There’s a LOT to see.
It’s just a fantastic hunt and a great experience. Watching the sunrise over the ocean from a treestand is something special.
Only other things I can think about (random thoughts)
You have to be in your treestand for the first two and last two hours of daylight. You can’t be walking around.
The National Wildlife Refuge people (I’ve been calling them dnr) are fantastic. At the dock, they check your license and then give you your tags. You can kill four or five deer per hunt.
You have to be off the island by noon on sunday.
Bring your best camera and a bird id book if you’re into that. You will see lots.
If you do come to the island, make sure you see some sights and don’t focus on the hunt too hard. The crematorium, indian burial ground, savannahs, and boneyards (standing dead timber in the surf) are worth a hike in the middle of the day.
We bring easy to cook dinners because you’re usually not back in camp til late. I always make a turkey stew that can just be warmed over the fire. We do a lot of soups and stews. Sandwhiches and sardines for lunch and breakfast is usually just coffee and granola bars.
Don’t bring anything you won’t need.
Finally, this hunt is full of wonderful people. There is no competition, and everybody is respectful of each other. Usually traditional archers make up about half of the hunters and you will get to hold and see a ton of different bows. I think the extra work of going to an island, walking so much, and bow hunting only tends to weed out the lazy jerks. Very rarely have we complained about anybody and you will make new friends.
There is cell phone service on most of the island now and there are plenty of places to plug in phone chargers.
Any more questions, I’m here.:D