The folks at Giles Island, just 15 minutes from historic Natchez, Mississippi, do their best to make sure there are some big bucks on the island all year round and, just as importantly, provide the type of habitat that keeps them on the island year after year. Along with an overabundance of natural food sources, these deer get to enjoy 175 acres of annual fall/winter food plots. The main draws for deer are the natural food sources on the island, fueled by Mississippi River silt for hundreds of years. It's hard to find better natural nutrition anywhere in North America.
This has allowed Mother Nature to create a wildlife buffet for deer more appealing than any food plots or planted trees could provide. It includes vines high in protein (Virginia creepers, balloon and trumpet), possum grapes, honeysuckle, dewberry and green briars during spring and summer. In the fall, deer feast on horse apple (osage orange), tea weed, cockleburrs and a huge mast crop that falls from both red and white oaks. The joker in the deck, however, is the wild sweet pecans that litter the island, as well as an abundance of honey locust and wild persimmons.
Over the past three years, the top bow bucks taken by clients hunting at Giles have gross-scored 150, 161 and 170 Pope-and-Young-Club (P&Y) points, while the top firearms bucks have gross-scored 166, 174, and 180 Boone-and-Crockett-Club (B&C) points, with an average trophy buck score of 140 B&C points. My latest bowhunting trip to Giles Island occurred in November 2009, and although I was unable to arrow a buck, one of the bowhunters in our group put a 160 1/8 P&Y stud on the ground. In addition to this, two archers in our group missed shots at bucks estimated at 160 and 170 P&Y points. If you are wondering, none of those big boys came under my stand!
Imagine all of this happening just outside of historic Natchez on the grand ol' Mississippi River on an island accessible only by boat, and you can begin to get an idea of how unique this experience can be. Outside of trophy buck potential, Giles also offers a target-rich environment and has helped hunters connect on more than 200 bucks during this same three-year time frame, with 80 of those scoring better than 125 inches. I personally believe that any buck is a trophy, but this recent track record helps define what you might run into on Giles.
Now that we've established that the big-buck factor does exist and why, it is important to touch on the mystique and raw beauty of this island. Giles Island comes in right at 9,400 acres, or approximately 15 square miles, almost entirely encircled by water. One can end up hunting in a swamp surrounded by cockleburr flats, hardwood bottoms, cut-overs, food plots surrounded by horse apple and persimmons, and other great set-ups that can include getting boated to a remote stand site. The island is the home of the original Bowie knife fight and is filled with residents like alligators, water moccasins, wild turkeys, bobcats and many other critters.
There's more than just whitetail hunting on Giles Island. They also offer highly-successful hunts for wild turkeys. Here, turkey season starts in mid-March and ends the first of May. Only three hunters are taken at a time to ensure that each hunter has plenty of hunting options and can get on at least one gobbling bird every day. You can hunt guided or unguided, but hiring one of the experienced lodge guides will increase your chances of success dramatically. The guide will also video the hunt. As a bonus, if the river is right, the fishing for bass and crappie in between hunts can be mind-boggling!
And while there is no daily waterfowl hunting allowed, there is talk of a few annual waterfowl hunting memberships becoming available soon. Be sure to ask about them.
Oh, one more thing — if you're worried about the accommodations, don't. They are first-class bordering on world-class. You will not lose any weight at this dinner table! Giles Island offers a great hunting experience for anyone who is pumped up about chasing whitetails.
* Giles Island encompasses 9400 acres -- approximately 15 square.
* Hunting seasons runs October 1 - January 31.
* Archery-only hunting occurs October 1 - November 21, December 2 - 16 and January 20 - 31. Any-weapon hunting occurs November 22 - December 1 and December 16 - January 19.
* Hunting is 100-percent fair-chase.
* All hunts are guided one-on-one, with the guides choosing general stand locations according to wind direction and the hunters drawing specific stand locations from a hat. Each hunt is videotaped by the guide.
* There are more than 200 stand locations.
* 2,000 acres on the island has been a “bow only” area for many years, and becomes a sanctuary for deer during gun season.
* There are 175 acres of annual fall/winter food plots.
*The island boasts a 1:1 buck-to-doe ratio.
* The average size of a trophy buck taken here is right at 140 inches.