Coast Guard: 3 missing Houston-area hunters found dead

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Bodies of 3 hunters recovered naer Matagorda Bay
The bodies of three missing hunters were recovered Saturday afternoon near Matagorda Bay.

PALACIOS, TX (KTRK) -- Three men found dead during a duck hunting trip near Carancahua Bay made that same trip several times previously without incident, according to family members.

The bodies of Starett Burk, 25, Spencer Hall, 19, and Christian Ruckman, 18, were recovered from the water near Palacios Saturday, according to U.S. Coast Guard officials.

The men launched their boat around 4am on Friday, authorities said. When they did not return, a family member contacted law enforcement.

VIDEO: Scene where hunters were recovered

Steven Romo reports from the scene where three hunters' bodies were recovered.

Stoney Burk, Starett's older brother, said the men were true outdoorsman often hunting together. His brother hoped to become a game warden, he said.

"They knew the area. They knew where they were going. It wasn't their first time down there. It wasn't their first time down there his year," Burk said.

The loss is still fresh for the families as they try to come to terms with lives taken so young.

"He always had a smile on his face," Burk said. "He was a jokester. He was probably the best prankster of the family."

The medical examiner will determine the official cause of death. Foul play is not suspected, according to authorities.

"We hope that maybe some other lives might be saved just by knowing that things can happen and you've got to be prepared for the worst," Burk said.