Bowhunting Travel Destinations: Giles Island, Mississippi

Most hunting destinations can be easily reached by driving, so when I first heard of Giles Island, I wondered first where it was located, and second, how exactly did one get there? My research quickly revealed that Giles Island was much more than just an island, it’s was a true hunter’s paradise located in the middle of the mighty Mississippi River between Mississippi and Louisiana.

I traveled to Giles Island in November 2004 with WomenHunters President and Pro Staffer Linda Thompson and WomenHunters writer Cindy Braun, to join five other women at the first "women’s" hunt offered by Giles Island.

After taking a scenic and historic drive on the Natchez Trace, we took just a short fifteen minute drive across the Mississippi River from Natchez, MS to the town of Ferriday, Louisiana, which brought us to our check-in point. First registered and greeted at the main office located on Louisiana soil, we were then quickly "water-taxied" over to the 9400 acre Mississippi Island by pontoon boat, loaded into distinctively unique "Giles Island" pickup trucks and delivered to the front-door of our shared and spacious cabins surrounding "The Antlers Lodge".

After changing into our hunting camo, we congregated at the main lodge for greetings and guidelines and were paired up with our guides. Stand locations were chosen and mapped. Guides quickly whisked each of us off to our assigned spots for the afternoon hunt. It was hot, humid, and buggy! Our ThermoCell Mosquito repellant units were quickly regarded by all as one of the most essential items in our fanny packs, next to water.

This huge 9400 acre island holds an abundance of record book bucks, with populations at roughly 1400 on the island and a 1:1 buck to doe ratio due to the intense management and strictly enforced minimum harvest size begun in 1992. Minimum harvest requirements call for an 8-point or better, 130-class (Pope & Young) buck (min. 150 class Boone & Crocket) assuring your trip to Giles is a trip for a trophy class animal.

The deer’s natural diet on Giles is enhanced by over 175+ acres of well-maintained food plots varying in size from ¼-acre to 12 acre plots, with future plans to increase acreage. The natural forage consists of treats like Honey Locust, Pecan, Persimmon and Oak trees found throughout the island. Over 120 ladder or hang-on stands are strategically placed and continuously scouted, and most are easily accessible as well. All stands are setup to accommodate both hunter and guide.

At Giles, correctly judging a buck’s Pope and Young score is crucial and carefully regulated.

Although many seasoned hunter’s may hesitate to request the assistance of a guide, having a guide can assure your harvest meets Giles’ strict minimum requirements (fees are assessed to hunters shooting a sub-standard buck) and additionally offers the hunter the possibility to harvest a cull buck (1 per day) when, and only when, a guide grants approval to shoot one. At Giles, many of the management bucks are trophies in their own right, and bucks most hunters surely would treasure. To aid in their deer management, hunters are also able to shoot a doe a day until their quotas for the current year have been met. Both gun and bow hunts are available, with prime deer hunting in December, turkey hunting in the spring and fishing offered throughout most of the year.

While it was obviously early in the season in the south, and whitetail movement still minimal during the day, (affected in part by the unusually rainy weather we experienced) several hunters including me had close encounters with trophy class deer. The second evening I had four mature bucks from 25 to 40 yards away feeding at the food plot I hunted and a fifth 130-class deer entered the plot at dusk at a distance of approximately 50 yards. The shot was too far for me to take but my guide and I enjoyed watching the beautiful buck as it fed and meandered off in the opposite direction. The next day, I had two does walk head on within 10 yards and I fully intended to shoot one, however they spooked and turned away, never offering a decent shot when at close range. Several sightings each day were reported by the women hunting, yet just one doe was shot by one of the women over the duration of our "too-short" four day hunt. (Week long hunts are also available.) Several magnificent bucks were sighted at various points on the island enticing us all to return another time, perhaps next time during the much anticipated rut.

Meals were served buffet-style in their large dining room. Each day began with a light breakfast before heading out to hunt, followed by a much grander "late breakfast" for those returning mid-morning. Lunch was served mid-afternoon before heading out to the afternoon stands, with dinner offered immediately upon your return. Beverages and snacks were available at all times of the day and night.

Lodging was comfortable and spacious, with each cabin offering plenty of room for relaxing if you chose to remain in your cabin instead of sharing in the camaraderie that the main lodge afforded.

Giles is a class act, from the trophies and hunt locations, to the lodging, meals and good natured guides. Giles Island as a hunting destination is nothing but impressive.

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© April 2005