WGXA tours luxury Quail hunting plantation
Hunting season is in full swing throughout the country and in addition to the traditional tree stand or shanty, there is a whole other experience many may not know about.
To find it, WGXA traveled two-and-a-half hours and some 140 miles one way, south of Macon, where pavement meets the dirt of Turkey Road. Black fencing capped with cobblestone leads to a long, winding drive. At the end sits the main lodge of Rio Piedra. It's one of many Quail hunting plantations in South Georgia, an area where Quail are plentiful.
"In fact, people refer to it as the plantation belt. And really, it's kind of like a long, 100-mile-long bird sanctuary," said Owner Bill Atchison.
Quail hunting in Georgia dates back to a time when soldiers were fighting for either the Confederacy or for Union.
"It dates basically back to the Civil War, but a lot has changed over the last few years, or last few decades. It used to be that you could drive out in the country and hunt Quail. That's pretty much a thing of the past," said Atchison.
Fast forward to 2012 and Atchison says many plantations are family-owned and exclusive to only those who own it and their invited guests. That's where Rio Piedra comes in. Legend has it that the name is rough Spanish for Flint River. It's a fitting name considering the plantation borders it. Instead of being exclusive to just invited guests and family, Rio Piedra is open to the public, but it's not your typical hunting experience. How about five-star dining, bragging about the day's hunt next to a fireplace or even laying your head on the pillow in a lodge-style room. But that's not all.
"We send our guests out with guides in the morning that know where the birds are. We provide the transportation, specially equipped Jeeps. We provide the dogs, both flushing dogs and pointing dogs that find the birds and the handlers who take care of those dogs. What we really provide is a full-service, plantation-style Quail hunting event," said Atchison.
The day starts with a country breakfast. And, after packing up the Jeep, most hunters are on the ground at 9 a.m. ready to pull the trigger. They're out there for three or four hours canvassing the plantation's thousands of acres. They break for lunch, then stay out until dusk. And later, they head back in for cocktails and dinner.
"It's a full day," said Atchison.
Nearly 80 percent of Rio Piedra's hunters are repeat customers. Many come from cold-climate states to escape harsh winters, which is the busiest time for the plantation. With doors opening in late October, and closing in mid-March, Atchison says the quality of the hunting is consistent the entire time.
"It's real hunting just the way it used to be the way it's been in Georgia for the last few hundred years," said Atchison.
So what's the cost? According to their website, a full day of quail hunting with lodging which includes three meals, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, a guide, dogs and Jeep, and a twelve bird privilege will cost you $950 per person.
For more information, visit http://www.riopiedraplantation.com