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By Dan Chapman, public affairs specialist October 7, Apalachicola, Florida — Ina New York doctor, patent-medicine salesman and one-term congressman bought St. Raymond Pierce built trails, cottages, barns, dams and sluice gates to create duck ponds. He grew vegetables and raised cattle.
And he also imported a menagerie of exotic Asian antlered beasts including sambar deer from India, a prized trophy for big-game hunters. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge. Check the refuge website for more information.
Check the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website for state hunting regulationsand permit information. More than a century later, the Pierce family is long gone from St. Vincent, but the sambar remain. The island today is a national wildlife refuge offering all manner of recreation like hiking, bird-watching, fishing and hunting — sambar deer in particular.
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Each fall, over three days, sportsmen and women with muzzle-loading rifles or bows are permitted to stalk the elusive sambar. Only one other public property in the country, in Texas, holds a sambar hunt. Hunting on St. Vincent, though, is a thoroughly unique experience. It should be pretty good meat. The refuge suffered substantial damage with washed-out ro, a ripped-apart dock and check station and saltwater-trashed generators, UTVs and trucks.
There was a silver lining, though. Few Florida refuges — few locales anywhere in the state, for that matter — top St. No bridge s St. Vincent to the coast; most visitors cross narrow Indian Pass by boat or kayak. Two hunt camps, with check stations and freshwater pumps, sit on each end of St. The bulk of the island is given over to twice-logged slash pine forests, pristine beaches, fresh and saltwater ponds, alligator sloughs and bay-side marshes. A stunning array of cabbage palm trees line Tahiti Beach.
Vincent was logged extensively in the s and the s. Views there are obstructed only by saw palmetto and tall grasses and afford clear shooting lanes.
Hunting on st. vincent nwr
Smith, the biotech, pointed out St. An adult bald eagle hunted from a newly dead oak tree a hurricane victim near the southwestern-most beach. Smith says the island is home to 10 bald eagle nesting sites. Two white-tailed does crossed B Road, the main east-west drag, as did a pygmy rattlesnake.
Lake Three and its canal offered a wealth of wildlife: common gallinules, tricolored herons, cattle egrets, American alligators in the rushes, bald eagles and osprey in the distance. Dragon flies and fritillary butterflies gamboled. A pack of rare and endangered red wolves lives on the island, though the adult male was recently killed, possibly by an American alligator.
He was winding down the tour near Mallard Marsh, when, suddenly, in a flash of dark brown, a sambar deer bounded across G Road. They resemble elk with bulky bodies and long, thin legs and weigh upwards of pounds. They hail from India, China, Cambodia and Nepal and how they arrived at a wildlife refuge halfway around the world is a story unto itself.
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Pierce hailed from Buffalo, New York, where he created a thriving medical business. The millionaire doctor bought St. Vincent from a Confederate brigadier general in He soon acquired four sambar — three does and a buck — from the New York Zoological Park, as well as other deer from Japan and antelope from China. Eventually, 1, deer mostly white-tailed1, wild hogs and plus cows roamed the island. Pierce died in They fully transformed St. Vincent into an exotic animal emporium, importing zebras, black bucks and elands from Africa. Avid bird hunters, they also brought in ringneck pheasants, wild turkeys, Asian jungle fowl and bobwhite quail.
The Loomises, according to a article in Florida Wildlife magazine, wanted to unload St. Vincent, but not to a developer. The Service, as part of its mandate, decided to rid St. Vincent of non-native animals.
Locals, though, say the prospect of out-of-state hunters filling hotel rooms and restaurants helped convince federal authorities to let the sambar remain. Service biologists later determined that the island can support a population of sambar and hundreds of white-tailed deer.
InSt. Vincent hosted the first public sambar hunt in the country. Smith stopped the beat-up Ford F near Oyster Pond. Swampy swales full of thick vines and needlerush covered the seaward side. We usually get consistent harvests here. More than 2, hunters applied for the muzzler-loader permits to hunt sambar.
An exotic hunt on a florida island
Check-in is Wednesday, November Thursday, a half-hour before sunrise, the hunt begins. It ends each day at 3 p. Check-out is Sunday. Hunters hike or bike to their preferred hunting spot, pulling rifles, crossbows, tree stands and provisions in a cart behind. They are allowed one sambar either sex and unlimited hogs and raccoons.
They must field-dress game in the woods and may have Service personnel pick up their quarry along a nearby road. Many hunters dock boats near the campsites at Indian or West pass. Others charter. Some come out for the daily hunt and return to the mainland at night.
Most camp. Quiet time begins at 9 p. No booze.
Once a year, hunters with muzzle-loading rifles stalk the rare sambar deer at st. vincent national wildlife refuge
Gudgel, 64, has applied to hunt sambar a half-dozen times. Inhe got lucky — until Hurricane Michael hit.
All permit winners got first dibs this year. Hunters, on average, take a dozen sambar a year. A wildlife management area along the Gulf Coast of Texas is the only other place in North America to publicly hunt sambar. It really is.
August 24, 8 minute read Fire as tool, and as friend. October 17, 5 minute read Service makes headway in Hurricane Michael repairs. September 26, 2 minute read Closure of Lee Road boat ramps to bank fishing due to visitors feeding alligators. Looking for a media contact? Reach out to a regional spokesperson. Share this on LinkedIn. A freshwater lake on St. Vincent NWR.