If one were to track the migratory patterns of traveling winghooters in the US, the most concentrated “flyways” would be those that take pheasant hunters to South Dakota in the fall and quail hunters to Georgia in the winter. The thousands of wingshooters making their way to the Peach State are blessed with a plethora of options, thanks to an incredible hunting infrastructure that includes dozens of commercial quail plantations. These operations come in a variety of shapes and forms, from budget-priced, no-frills “kick ’n’ shoot” deals all the way to luxury lodges offering mule-drawn-wagon hunts. There are 400-acre mom-and-pop properties, and there are big-boy operations that span thousands of acres. Of the latter, SouthWind Plantation, in Bainbridge, might be the biggest of all. SouthWind specializes in upscale bird hunts—with a heavy emphasis on the “scale.”
Although great shoots can be had on small, well-managed properties, the “bigger is better” axiom is generally applicable to Georgia quail hunting. (The more ground to roam, the wilder the birds, and so on.) In the spectrum of Georgia bird-shooting lodges, 600 to 700 acres would typically be considered on the smaller side, and 3,000 to 4,000 acres would be on the larger end. Then there’s the super-size category, for which only a few lodges qualify. And at more than 6,000 acres SouthWind leads the list. A spread of that scale is a habitat manager’s dream come true, and it has allowed the SouthWind team to offer a wide range of cover amongst its 26 quail courses. Some plantations are limited to conducting hunts in wiregrass-and-pine habitat or wilder, woodier courses or spots next to cultivated food plots. SouthWind offers all of it—and it all feels like real quail hunting.
Just as SouthWind’s geographical footprint rates as the largest of the large, the variety of hunting that the plantation offers is also unsurpassed. Walk-up bobwhite hunts in custom Jeeps are the most popular, but horseback hunts, mule-drawn-wagon hunts, and Continental and tower shoots are options as well. There is even a hunt that is conducted using an impeccably restored Range Rover Defender 110 that has been kitted out specifically for quail shooting. And although quail are certainly the headliners at SouthWind, pheasants and chukars can be worked into the mix for those seeking a varied bag. Given all this, deciding which hunts to partake in could easily seem overwhelming; but because SouthWind specializes in arranging custom shooting packages, guests are always able to get exactly what they want.
Guides, Dogs & Equipment
When it comes to the amount of equipment and staff it takes to operate a wingshooting operation of such magnitude, the “go big or go home” approach is the only one that works. SouthWind’s arsenal includes 24 hunting buggies (Jeeps), two mule-drawn wagons, eight walking horses and the aforementioned Range Rover. The hunting staff consists of 30 to 40 full-time and backup guides, and the kennel houses more than 200 dogs of almost every imaginable pointing, flushing and retrieving breed. Being short on guide power, dog power or gear is never a good place for a 5-star wingshooting lodge to find itself, which is why SouthWind invests heavily in ensuring that never happens.
The array of lodging at SouthWind is equally large and diverse. From the spacious main lodge to cozy cabins to secluded country homes, there are 12 options capable of handling approximately 80 total guests. All are beautifully appointed and tended to by a world-class service and hospitality staff.
Without a doubt, the scale of SouthWind’s operation is awesome, but what is even more amazing is how a hunt there can be a remarkably private experience. Of all the advantages of being large, one of the most important is the ability to spread hunters and lodges over 6,300 acres, to simultaneously ensure an intimate and high-quality experience for a party of two or a corporate group of 30. (SouthWind does not mix groups, and every party is looked after by a distinct guiding and hospitality staff.) And that in combination with everything else ensures that SouthWind’s guests end up big winners!
SouthWind Plantation is a full-service Shooting Sportsman Endorsed Lodge. To learn more and to make a reservation, call 800-456-5208 or email [email protected].
Photographs courtesy of SouthWind Plantation.