The Port Bay Tradition|
A prominent reason for Port Bay Club's success, for its continuity and accumulation of valued tradition, is the extraordinary good fortune the Club has enjoyed over the years in the men who have been its managers, and in their wives who have been essential helpmates and have managed the Club's estimable kitchen. Good food is a longstanding Port Bay tradition.
Andy Sorenson was the Club's founding manager. Word of mouth survives that Andy did not make an altogether happy transition from entrepreneur hunting guide to Club manager. In any case, he gave up the position in 1918 to Arthur R. Curry who served as Club manager for the next twenty-five years, until 1943. Curry resigned to run for Sheriff of Aransas County, a post to which he was elected in November of '42 and held until his death in office in May 1951.
George M. Harrell succeeded Curry and served as manager from 1943 until 1949, when he, too felt a call to law enforcement and became Constable of Aransas County. Upon George's resignation, his son, Milton Harrell, became the Club's next manager and served the Club for the next twenty-eight years, until 1977 when a heart attack forced him to a reduced schedule of activity.
Milton continued to be a fixture around Port Bay until his death in July of 1984.
Dave Davis, a Rockport shrimp boat operator and long-time guide and assistant to Milton, took over in '77. Dave and his wife Jimmie admirably managed the Club from then to 1998. The Club is now ably managed by Jeff Kucera.
Thus, for more than 86 of its 94 years, the Club had just five managers. It is difficult to overstate the value that has ensued from this continuity and stable tenure. These able men deserve much of the credit for building and sustaining the Club's traditions and customs, as do their wives.
I never met Arthur Curry's wife, but word of mouth survives of her excellent cooking and especially of her pies. All who knew Gayna Harrell, Milton's second wife, remember her fine cooking, lively wit, and competent helpfulness in most of the Club's on-site administrative chores. Gayna's Port Bay gumbo recipe became famous and is still a Club tradition supported and made yet better to this day by our crew.
In September of 1987, the Club officially celebrated its 75h Anniversary. Dave and Jimmie went all out and threw a memorable party and dinner with catered barbeque. The event was well attended and commemorated with special "75th Anniversary" caps, which are still in demand. Very few Texas organizations can claim 75th anniversaries.
In 1991, the Texas Historical Commission recognized the Club with a marker placed at
the intersection of FM 1069 and Port Bay Club Road that reads:
"Danish Native Andrew Sorenson (1864-1941) established a reputation as a hunting and fishing guide in this area in the early 20'h century. He bought 240 acres of land (5 mi. w) in 1909, and in 1912 incorporated the private Port Bay Hunting and Fishing Club. Charter members included prominent citizens from Texas, and the U.S. adjacent waters teem with ducks and geese in season. Despite hurricane damage to club structures over the years and a reduction in size to 46 acres, the Club continues to attract members who embrace the traditions of conservation and sportsmanship."
Two important Port Bay traditions that have remained in force through the years are strict observance and respect for federal and state game laws, and dedication to firearms safety. All members are required to become familiar with applicable game laws and to observe them strictly, from the use of steel shot to recognition of the various species of ducks and geese, and the rules regulating the taking and protection of species from year to year. Port Bay guides help new members learn to recognize the different kinds of ducks. The Club has established an enviable reputation for game law compliance with state and federal game officials in the Rockport / Aransas Pass area. Though we still get checked from time to time, the good will of our reputation serves us well.
The guides also respectfully assist members and their guests in observing shotgun safety, out of reverence for other hunters' safety and their own immediate well-being. Port Bay tradition holds that active hunting and alcohol do not mix well. The pleasures and comforts of the cup are for relaxation after the hunt, never before nor during. On the other hand, Club tradition has never eschewed the comradeship and contentment of a few good drinks after a day's hunt, and these ritual occasions have their place as part of the Port Bay experience.
The Club Today
The Port Bay Tradition
The Hunting Experience at Port Bay
Fishing at Port Bay
The Past, Present and Future of Texas Duck Hunting
Port Bay Club Amenities
Jan.2006 Newspaper Article
Sept.2006 Newspaper Article
Jan.2007 Newspaper Article - KING OF CLUBS - NEW!
Port Bay Club brochure - pdf format