There are several places that allow public waterfowl hunting for a minimal amount of money. The McFadden national Wildlife Refuge between Sabine Pass and High Island offers several different hunt situations. The area known as the Spaced Blind Hunt Unit is the Star Lake/Clam Lake Hunt Unit. This area has a $10 fee per hunter. The Central Hunt Unit and the Mud Bayou Hunt Unit are non-fee hunts. There are specific days when hunting is allowed. On the Spaced Blind Units, the hunts are Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.
There are a good number of common sense regulations that are available in print at the McFaddin NWR Headquarters. The availability of hunting units is issued on a first come first served basis. Reservations may also be made by telephone. Permits begin to be issued at the headquarters at 4 a.m. on the hunt days. Should you not be present by 5 a.m., then the unit will be awarded to standbys on a first come, first serve basis. All hunters must check out at the headquarters by 12:30 p.m. on the day of the hunt. You should contact the refuge before making hunt plans at (409) 971-2909.
The Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is off Highway 1985 in Chambers County south of Stowell. Take Highway 124 toward High Island to Highway 1985, turn right and travel 10 to 12 miles to the refuge sign. This refuge is situated in one of the most prolific areas along the entire Gulf Coast. It is where the famous Barrow Ranch once was. That was the waterfowl mecca known nationwide for its large numbers of both ducks and geese. Besides the hunt areas, there are some excellent bird watching stations. You can contact the refuge headquarters by calling (409) 252-4231 or it can be located by Googling Anahuac NWR. Just like the McFaddin NWA, there are a good number of rules and regulations. These are both for hunter safety and keeping rest areas for the waterfowl. I would recommend making you initial trip with someone that has hunted there before.
The J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area is a state-owned area that is located south of Port Acres. There are several compartments where waterfowl hunting is offered. The hunt areas are assigned on a first come, first served basis. A $20 permit can be purchased at the check station on the morning of the hunt. Hunters with an APH permit are exempt from purchasing the $20 fee.
Along with the J.D. Murphree WMA Big Hill Unit, there are the Salt Bayou Unit, Sea Rim and the Lower Neches WMA in Orange County. Be sure to contact the headquarters by calling (409) 736-2551. This area is also in a super duck migration area. The ponds hold controlled water that is necessary in order to attract the more desirable puddle ducks.
There are 34,000 acres in Anahuac, 55,000 acres at McFaddin, 24,500 at J.D. Murphree and 7,998 at the Lower Neches WMA. Not all of the property is open to hunting, but there is enough to offer some good action. These areas are roll your own hunts. In some of the units, boats are required. Be sure to check on the restrictions for the outboard motors. Some of the hunt areas are walk in, and I recommend that only hunters who are in good physical condition head into these places.
After the waterfowl season, some of those units will also allow feral hog hunting. Only archery or shotguns with slugs or buckshot are allowed. Do check with the headquarters to learn more about the after-waterfowl feral hog hunts.
Billy Halfin can be reached by e-mail at bhalfinoutdoors [at] aol [dot] com.