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      The Port Bay Hunting & Fishing Club

TEXAS OLDEST HUNTING AND FISHING CLUB


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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.


REMEMBERING BUBBA - LEGENDARY MANAGER OF THE PORT BAY CLUB

Friday, March 2, 2007

Dear Port Bay Members,

It is with great sadness that we write to share with you the loss of our father, Mr. Dave A. Davis, known to many of you as Bubba. After fighting a hard battle with his illness, he passed comfortably in the early morning hours of Thursday March 1, 2007 at the residence of his daughter Sheri Lake in Houston, Texas.

Dad was a living legend in Rockport. He was born on March 26, 1932, the first son of Marvin Horace and Delphine Elizabeth Davis. A fig tree still grows in the lot on the bay where he was born (across from Hunt's Castle) in Rockport.

In his preschool years, he had the run of Austin Street and was well acquainted with all of the locals. He was often seen wearing his cowboy boots and riding his stick horse pretending to be Tom Mix as he visited the local merchants. There were also more humbling times as he walked the well-worn path to Bracht's Lumber to obtain yet another yardstick so that his mother could discipline him. At the early age of three, he owned his first boat. It was presented with one condition -- he was never to cross “the bar” -- the barrier island. His father was confident that the prevailing south winds would always blow him back to shore. Off he would set sail as Popeye the Sailor Man. His legend only continued to grow with each passing year of his life.

After graduating from Rockport High School, he briefly attended Texas A & M. He's the only student that we know of that left college because it was duck season! Having worked as a guide boy at Port Bay, he heard the duck calls and felt an urgent desire to return.

Dad was a man of many skills and trades, he served his country as a Sergeant in the 21st AAA 25th Division of the US Army during the Korean War, he was a carpenter, a ship builder, a seismographer, an incredible story teller and much more. Above all else though, he was an avid outdoorsman -- a hunter and fisherman. We want to thank each of you that contributed to his employment as Manager of Port Bay Club -- fulfilling his life long dream to be on the water and close to nature.

Dad was a man of great strength who loved life and loved people. He always had an open heart, an open arm, an open ear, and a shoulder to lean on. He had an incredible talent for being there for others in their times of need. He was always able to offer words of wisdom, kindness, and comfort should his joke of the day not bring a smile. He was an honest, dependable and hardworking man that kept to his word and he has touched the lives of many.

He appreciated the simpler things in life as much, if not more, than the grand. They are what mean the most to us now as we reflect upon our memories. He was a man of such great character that it would be difficult to imagine any friend or acquaintance without his or her own very personal favorite memory of all.

Dad had prearranged to participate in the Willed Body Program. At his request, there will not be any formal services held.

We've had several people express that they would like to do “something”. Having given it much thought, the only idea that we might offer is that Dad would likely appreciate your doing something for the children -- perhaps a fishing camp or a tournament, maybe a picnic. Knowing Dad as we do, we can't imagine anything that would honor him more than for you to take a child fishing or to simply share some quality time together.

To each of you that called, visited, sent gifts and cards, we would like to extend our most heartfelt gratitude. Your kindness will always be remembered.

Sincerely,
Jeri Rhoades and Sheri Lake



Home

Early History

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

Pictures

Jan.2006 Newspaper Article

Sept.2006 Newspaper Article

Jan.2007 Newspaper Article - KING OF CLUBS -   NEW!

Port Bay Club brochure - pdf format



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The Port Bay Hunting & Fishing Club, Inc.
www.portbayclub.com
(361) 729-6971

310 Port Bay Road
Rockport
Texas 78382

Mailing address:
P O Box 668, Rockport, TX 78381
Fax: 361-729-3512
Membership questions: (210) 494-1042 or (210) 264-3396


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