Sporting

Nine Standout Lodges for the Southern Quail Hunter

From the pine forests of the Red Hills to the foothills of the Andes, plan your next hunt at these destination properties

photo: TERRY ALLEN

A covey flushes during a morning hunt at Dorchester Shooting Preserve, in Midway, Georgia.

The outdoor writer Gene Hill once described hunting for quail as “a series of lovely paintings that we walk into and out of all day long.” The best place to become part of those paintings? In one of the many fine quail lodges that dot the South. The Red Hills region between Thomasville, Georgia, and Tallahassee, Florida, is famous for its quail plantations, and a place where you can still experience the quintessence of traditional bobwhite hunting, thanks in large part to smart conservation measures that have restored native longleaf pine ecosystems and helped wild bird populations to rebound. But it would be a mistake to overlook some of the best lodges elsewhere, including Alabama, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Texas, all of which offer rewarding opportunities to pursue the South’s signature game bird.


Wynfield Plantation
Albany, GA

Wynfield isn’t the biggest property in the Red Hills, but its 2,000 acres benefit from a prime location surrounded by numerous private plantations (Ted Turner’s place is just down the road)—and their birds. Wynfield has plenty of its own too, of course, both wild and pen raised. Guests stay in rustic private cabins (stocked with your favorite brand of whiskey before you arrive) and come together for meals at a lakeside lodge. The hunting is done in groups of two to four, transported by modified “bird buggy” Jeeps, and the sporting-clays course will get you well warmed up before you tackle the real thing. wynfieldplantation.com


Wild Wing Lodge
Sturgis, KY

If you don’t consider Kentucky a quail-hunting destination, Wild Wing might change your mind. The lodge is best known for the unreal size of its coveys—some in the thirty- to fifty-bird range. The property is located in the rolling terrain of rural coal country, and the hunting is done mainly on foot (though ATVs are provided for those who need them) behind English setters bred and raised by the lodge’s manager, Keith Pierce. If you somehow tire of those huge coveys, the lodge also offers hunting for pheasant and Hungarian partridge. wildwinglodge.com


Pine Hill Plantation
Donalsonville, GA

Doug Coe began visiting Pine Hill as a customer in 1991, and to paraphrase the old TV ad, he liked the hunting so much, he bought the plantation, assuming full ownership in 2006. What Coe loved was the traditional feel of the place, on the edge of the Red Hills, which is something that has not changed. Guests still take horses and mule-drawn wagons (no motorized transportation allowed) out into 6,000 acres of prime quail habitat. What has changed (for the better) are the amenities: The property now includes four lodges that are rented out entirely to individual hunting parties, who are pampered with their own house staff and sous-chef. pinehillplantation.com


The Webb Farm
Ellerbe, NC

Bill Webb has dedicated himself to turning his boyhood farm into a hunter’s paradise that harks back to the heyday of North Carolina quail plantations. Along with a vintage-farmhouse-style lodge with a huge wraparound porch, his 1,500 acres include longleaf pines and wire grass that roll into the hardwood bottoms of the Pee Dee River valley. Webb focuses on the quality of his bird population, with three well-timed releases and an ever-increasing number of wild birds as the farm comes off its best hatch in a dozen years. thewebbfarm.com


Dorchester Shooting Preserve
Midway, GA

Dorchester is one of the rare high-quality Georgia quail lodges not located in the plantation belt. Instead, it’s on the coast, some forty minutes from Savannah. And while much of the hunting habitat in its 4,800 acres resembles its Red Hills brethren (wire grass and longleaf pines), you will occasionally run across a live oak and smell the salt air, reminding you of where you are. Dorchester hunts over primarily early-release birds, but don’t let that scare you away: The birds are fast, and the coveys are known for their good size. The lodge can also set up guided fishing trips, so you can bag quail and battle redfish in the same visit. huntdsp.com


Greystone Castle Sporting Club
Mingus, TX

Rising out of the Texas prairie, an hour and a half from the Dallas/Fort Worth metro, stands an unlikely sight: a castle with four turrets (it was built in the 1980s). Beyond the castle walls, Greystone, a two-time Orvis Wingshooting Lodge of the Year, offers excellent quail hunting in its fields of sorghum, millet, and switchgrass, habitat that’s been cultivated with these birds in mind for three decades. The club also offers duck and mixed-bag hunts, and it’s decidedly family-friendly, with activities ranging from horseback trail rides to paddleboarding to bass fishing. greystonecastle.com


Peachburg Lodge
Union Springs, AL

Peachburg prides itself on the “boutique” experience. The lodge hosts small parties only—between four and eight guests—and has the feel of a family-run bed-and-breakfast. A former peach orchard about fifty minutes southeast of Montgomery, it’s located on the southern edge of Alabama’s fertile Black Belt region, with a healthy population of wild birds. Jase Parker, who bought the property in 1980, runs it with one of his sons, and one or both of the men usually accompany parties during hunts, done by horseback or mule-driven wagon. peachburglodge.com


SouthWind Plantation
Attapulgus, GA

SouthWind is a big plantation. Its seven state-of-the-art lodges can handle up to forty-eight guests at a time. But the hands-on owner, Tim Smith, who bought the property more than twenty-five years ago, has managed a neat trick: The feel of the plantation, Orvis’s Wingshooting Lodge of the Year in 2017, has remained intimate. Smith has a staff of sixty on hand during peak season to cater to guests, and each hunting party is sent out on either a Jeep or a mule-driven wagon into 5,000 acres of wire grass and longleaf pine. Make time for a few casts in the plantation’s twenty-acre lake: It holds bass over ten pounds. huntsouthwind.com


Tipiliuke Lodge
San Martín de los Andes, Argentina

For a far-flung, bucket-list quail-hunting experience, Tipiliuke is your place. The well-appointed lodge sits on a 50,000-acre estancia in the Andes foothills, and guests hunt during the austral fall and winter, from May to August. Tipiliuke’s birds are California quail (with the striking plume on the tips of their heads) that gather in mind-blowingly large coveys of up to a hundred birds and don’t see nearly as many hunters as their Northern Hemisphere cousins. And don’t forget that two of Argentina’s best trout rivers also wind through the property. highadventurecompany.com 


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