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There are WMAs, and there is Sapelo Island. Not only was it my first WMA, but my first deer hunt, ever. I would have to say that hunting Sapelo on my first hunt is the equivalent of hitting a grand slam your first time at bat in t-ball. It’s all down hill from there….
This WMA is south of Savannah about a 30 minute boat ride into the Atlantic Ocean. Hunting Sapelo will be one of the most unique experiences a hunter can have if you’re fortunate enough to be chosen. Now it’s important to note that you won’t kill a 12 point 225 lb. buck on this hunt, as a matter of fact, there’s a good chance no one will even kill a deer over 110 lbs. The reason for this is because you’re hunting Key deer which I believe are more prevalent in parts of Florida and rarely seen on the Georgia mainland at all. However, don’t be surprised if you see somebody bring in a 250 lb hog. Yeah, the hogs are bigger than the deer, but that’s beside the point, let’s talk about the experience.
The experience begins when you load all your gear on to a ferry that takes you to the island. It will probably be the only time your mode of transportation is followed by dolphins on your way to a hunt. So let the experience begin. When you reach the island, everyone transfers their gear to a pickup truck pulled trailer. It might resemble a hayride, but hold on tight the road isn’t paved. As you ride through the island you can’t help but imagine what the island must have looked like 100 years because not much has changed. Once you arrive at camp (no electricity, dirty bathrooms, and showers that had about a foot of standing water) you pitch your tent and quickly realize what’s missing from your arsenal. At Sapelo it’s the hunter vs. the wild just like it was meant to be.
DNR sets up the hunt so that you arrive the day before the 3 day hunt begins. Once you arrive you will pick out your own “section”. This section is a piece of land that you, and only you, will be hunting for the next 3 days. After picking out the section the hunters hop back on to the trailer and are dropped off at their spot and allowed to scout for a few hours.
I would have to estimate that I was given a block of land at least 40 acres in size. About 60% of my piece of land was a field with the ocean as the border, or at least a bay full of salt water and marsh (watch out for alligators) and the other 40% consisted of tall mature pines. The next day we were dropped off about an hour before sunrise at our “section” and the hunt began. There’s something very peaceful to seeing the sun come up over the 100 year old Spanish draped oaks as the fog slowly burns away. Over the next 3 days I saw many deer, didn’t bring any home though due to a bad case of buck fever and operator error, but it was well worth the trip.
One animal I forgot to mention that you may run into are longhorn cattle, as a matter of fact, during the 3rd and final day after getting out of my stand I caught a glimpse of brown in the nearby field. This was my chance at redemption, it was the last day of the hunt, I could finally get my first ……….cow? Yeah, it was a large heard of longhorns. Now we’re talking about a 48 inch spread, but only 2 points so I let them go. These guys were descendants of a herd left behind by a previous owner of the island, R.J. Reynolds. I guess longhorns don’t pack easily when moving.
Well, as you can see, hunting the Sapelo WMA is an experience that will provide memories for a lifetime. With or without a kill, it doesn’t matter. My experience was about 10 years ago, but I remember it like it was last season. If you are looking for a hunt that becomes more about the experience than whether or not you have to bring home a Boone and Crockett then I would seriously consider Sapelo. It’s well worth the effort.