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Planhtion Resort andSpa uail aficionadosare well acquaintedwith the historic plantation life that rooted in the rolling hills, lakes, rivers, and red clay of the Red Hills region. For over a century,shootershave traveled to the area that encompasses515 squaremiles of land in the surounding Thomasville, Ga., through Tallahassee,

Fla.,area.A relativenewcomerthataddsto theregion'salreadyfine patinais NorthFlorida'sHoneyLakePlantation. The hallowedplantationis notedon the prestigious GeorgiaFloridaFieldTrial map.HoneyLakePlantationwasoriginally ownedby PansyPoewho usedit asa day-sporting propertyin theearly1900s. Serialbusiness entrepreneur BobWilliamson purchased theplantationin 2008andembarkedon a three-year, $35 millionrenovation to the4,800-acre propefiy.Whenhe purchased theplantation, Williamson'sultimategoalwasto preserve the property'sstunningbeautyandwildlife.He did thatby creatinga centralcampusto fostera relaxedatmosphere whereguestscould unwindfrom thehustlebustleof daily lif'e.The mainGatheringHall andPro Shop,theWhisperingPinesrestaurant, all accommodations, theHoneyLakePlantation Church,theHowlingDog Saloon,and thespaaresituatedwithin easywalkingdistances of eachother. HoneyLakePlantationoffersa traditionalplantation-style quailhunt.Five individualquailcoursesspan1,800totalacresof uplandcover,woodlots,fields,andponds.The coursesarea tasteful blendof rollinghills andopenfields.Foodandcovercropsvary and includemillet,broomstraw, milo, wiregrass, andlovegrass. Oats, clover,soybeans, andpeanutsroundout thefbodplots.A varietyof pinesareindigenous to theregionandrangefrom slash,loblolly, spruce,shonleafandlongleafvarieties, andthe fieldsarerimmedby cypressandtheeasilyrecognizable live oaks,sweetgum, hickory, blackoak,and,dogwoodtrees. The birdsarea mixtureof wild andearly-release quail.Covey risesrangebetweena half-dozen birdsand20, but therearethe occasional coveyrisesof 50 or morebirds.Theseareknown colloquiallyas"hat blowers"andhunterscanfollow up singles.At HoneyLake,you'll find quail,quail,andmorequail,andtheyall fly hard. Huntersget aroundthe plantationin one of threedifferent wagons.TheBird Buggy 1 is a custom-designed huntingvehicle built on a ChevySuburban framewith a 350-blockengineandfourwheeldrivetransmission. It includesa benchseatandfour elevated

@ The Upland Almanac I Spring 2013

rlvarm-ups prepare quailhunters Skeet, trap,ands-stand foradayinthe field. captain'schairsthatwill transportup to six hunters,anddogboxesthat will holdup to l0 Englishpointers. setters, andcockerspaniels. Two coveredgun racksbuilt into the vehicle'sframesafelyandsecurely storeup to six shotguns. Bird Buggy2 is a custom-developed trailer thatis pulledbehinda Jeepandaccommodates five hunters,six pointingdogs,andfour flushingdogs.Bird Buggy3, a Polarissixwheeler,transports five hunters,six pointingdogs,andtwo flushing dogs.A final,traditionaltouchis thathuntersmayride horseback i n s t e aodf o n o n eo f t h eh u n t i n g wagons. It goeswithoutsayingthatbird dogsarean impoftantpartof plantationlife, andso field trial aficionados will recognize the names Ed andSheilaHart.Theselongtimecompetitors andjudgesjoined HoneyLakeKennelsin 2010.The Hartswill overseean entirelynew 30-dogkennelthatwill includea full breedingfacilityandwhelping room.Expectto seethecurrentHoneyLakePlantation dogsto grow significantlyfrom 32 Englishpointers,setters, andcockersto many more.Guestsarewelcometo bringandhunttheirown dogs,andall are housedin outdoorkennels. Thereareseveraldifferentlodgingoptionsfrom whichto choose. The HoneyLakeLodgeis a tastefullydesigned home,perfectfor a medium-sized groupof hunters.Therearefive luxuryking guest rooms,eachwith a privatebath.The heartwoodpinefloorsandcypress wallsaregorgeous, andtherearea full kitchen,breakfast counter, wet bar,leathercouches, andfireplace. Adjacentto the lodgeis an S00-square foot premiersuitethatfeaturesa privatekitchen,bar,living room,andmasterbedroom. Partof our groupstayedin the Five PinesandTwo OaksCottage complex.Eachcottageprovidesa mastersuiteon eitherend.Eachsuite hasa privatebathandqueenbeds.A commonliving roomcomplete with a flat-screen TV andleathercouchesandchairs.anda kitchenette

The Bird Buggy transports pointers, agroup ofhunters, English English setters, andEnglish cockers intotal comfort. separates thesuites.It's a perfectway to catchtheendof footballgame beforeturningin to yourown privateroomandis greatfor groups who prefertheirown space.Thereareotheroptionslike thePansypoe Cottage,oneofthe originalbuildingsthatoverlookstheplantation's namesake bodyof water,HoneyLake.It hasthree-bedroom suites, a kitchen,an enormousliving roomwith viewsof the lake,andan indoor/outdoor deckandpatiocompletewith a fire pit. Our dinnerswereprepared by ExecutiveChefWilliam Mann. Chefhasa phenomenally longr6sum6thatis brokendown into fiveyearstintsfrom aroundthecountry.He hasamassed a tremendous amountofexperiencein his threedecades behindthefire,andat Honey Lakehis pidcede la r6sistance, whathe calls"PlantationElegant,"is a newtwistto favoriteSouthernclassics. Breakfasts rangefrom eggs anystyleto omeletsor Frenchtoast.At lunch,a pulledpork BBe sandwich,southern fried chicken,or a goumet elk burgerarea few options.And for dinner,try a bone-infilet mignon,andouille-stuffed chicken,lambchopswith a pomegranate reductionandsmashed turnips,or an herb-roasted pork loin with roastedapples.ChefMann is a firm believerin the"from farmto table" suestswill enjoysomeof thefreshest loodsavailable. Quail.venisoi.andfishare harvestedon the property,as arefive typesof lettuce,two varietiesof greens,vegetables like squash, canots,turnips,potatoes, andbroccoli. A plethoraof spicesarehomegrownaswell, andeggsaregathered daily from the HoneyLake chickencoop. Therearea wide varietyof otheractivitiesthat canbe addedto a quailhunt.A morningwaterfowlhuntfor seasonal puddleanddiver ducks,an afternoonoftrophy bassandbreamfishing,andseasonal field dovehuntsarethreepopularoptions.Non-sporlingguestsenjoy horseback riding,kayaking,or thefull serviceday spa. A visit to HoneyLake Plantationshouldincludea trip to

The 3,600-square f00tHoney Lake Lodge hasfiveluxury king guest rooms, pine each withprivate baths The heartwood floors and cypress walls aregOrgeous andthere areafullkitchen, breakfast counter, wetbar, leather couches, andfireplace. Thomasville,oneof thehubsof theRedHills sportingculture.The quaintshopsin thedowntownareaincludeKevin'sof Thomasville, oneof theSoutheast's premieroutfitters.In additionto fine newand usedshotguns, apparelandgearsuitedto wing shooting,fishing,and hunting,Kevin'sis a treasure troveof wildlife art from therich legacy ofthe area'splantationculturefrom the past. In a lot of ways,therearemorereasons to visit HoneyLake PlantationandtheRedHills regionthanjust for extendingyour huntingseason. It's aboutslowingdowntime to reflecton thegentler partof life. It's aboutcamaraderie, finedog work, anda celebration of oneof our favoritepastimes. For a bird hunterin thewinter,it's a lot moreaboutcominghome.gNl

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The Upland Almanac I Spring 2013


Honey Lake Plantation and Spa by Tom Keer, originally printed in The Upland Almanac  

Learn more about this beautiful plantation situated in the Red Hill's region. Quail hunting, bass and bream fishing, spa, and more.

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