SSM: How long have you been at Pine Hill Plantation, and what compelled you to get involved with the lodge?
Doug Coe: I first came to Pine Hill as a guest in 1991, when the Kimbrel family opened its farm to quail hunting. For years I brought my business guests, friends and family. In 2003 the son came to me after his father had sold most of the farmland and asked me to partner with him. I said, “Let’s take your great horseback and mule-drawn-wagon hunting and add to it some beautiful private lodges with a true culinary experience. Then we will have an experience that feels just like being at your own private plantation.” In 2006 I bought out the son. My wife, Jackie, and I have been active on the Plantation since that time.
SSM: What’s a typical day of hunting like at Pine Hill?
DC: Arrival Day
- Guests arrive late afternoon, typically around 4.
- Guests are greeted at their private lodge by their personal house staff and get settled in.
- Opportunity to shoot the 5 Stand.
- Appetizers and cocktails.
- 7 PM—Guests are served dinner by their chef in their private dining room within their private lodge.
- Following dinner, guests have the lodge and the fire pit to themselves.
- Coffee is on at 7 AM, and house staff arrives.
- A hearty Southern breakfast is served at 8 AM.
- The huntmaster arrives at 8:45 to take guests to the field.
- Morning hunt—approximately 9 to noon.
- Lunch—in the field or back at the private lodge.
- Afternoon hunt—approximately 1:30 to 4:30.
- Back to the lodge for appetizers, cocktails, dinner and camaraderie.
SSM: What aspects of your operation seem to impress guests the most?
DC: It has to be the experience of real quail hunting, including the excitement of seeing spectacular 20-bird covey rises, testing one’s skills against Mother Nature and trying to shoot a double in those split seconds as the birds go darting every conceivable direction as your stomach has just jumped into your throat. It’s about seeing Mother Nature in all her beauty when a covey of birds flushes wild.
To be sure, our guests also talk about how life slows down and true fellowship can be enjoyed while riding on the mule-drawn wagon or on the back of a horse . . . just like it was done in the old days.
And at the end of the day our guests enjoy the comfort of their own private lodge where they are served in their private dining room.
SSM: What is your favorite item on the dinner menu?
DC: That is a tough choice, because we have so many wonderful menu options and each guest group gets to select from our menu in advance to choose the entrée and dessert for each evening of their stay. My personal favorite—and one of our guest favorites—is the grilled quail, which we call Doug’s Bacon Wrapped Quail. The quail are stuffed with an incredible cornbread, sausage, onion and celery stuffing, and then wrapped with bacon and oven roasted to a beautiful golden brown. Other favorites range from fried quail and fried chicken to filet mignon and our herb-rubbed rack of lamb.
SSM: What part of the job do you find the most gratifying?
DC: There are two things that I really love about this job. One is seeing our guests thoroughly enjoy the full Pine Hill Plantation experience. The other is coaching members of our staff and watching them grow to where they exceed our guests’ expectations for service and hospitality.
SSM: What has you the most excited about the coming season?
DC: I always get excited about a new quail hunting season—to see our old friends and guests again, to catch up and share our experiences since we last saw one another, to meet new guests and make new friends, to watch a young dog learn from an older dog, to go out and have the opportunity to shoot at a covey of birds with a pretty gun—and maybe celebrate a double—to enjoy a meal with good friends, to wonder at the stars while sitting around a fire pit, and to have the opportunity to enjoy another quail hunting season in God’s creation.