Discovery: High Pine Hunting Lodge
Trophy whitetail bucks, abundant quail, monster catfish and bass. Sounds like a sportsman's paradise, doesn't it? It is, and that's exactly what owners Randy and Susan Powell wanted High Pine Hunting Preserve and Lodge (http://www.highpinelodge.com/) to be when it opened in November 2001.
THE 'REAL' PLACE TO BE!
High Pine is located near Buena Vista in Western Georgia, not far from Columbus, and offers more than 5,000 acres of prime managed game habitat, 3,500 acres of which are owned by High Pine and over 1,500 adjacent acres are leased. There are three major streams flowing through the property, beaver ponds as well as eight large ponds and two lakes of at least 10 surface acres. All these waters hold fish and are open to lodge guests for fishing. There's also a two-bedroom cabin on one of the lakes with a dock out front. The cabin was reconstructed primarily from the original wood from Randy's great grandparents' house, so although it offers modern conveniences, it also has a pleasingly rustic appearance.
One of the other attractions at High Pine is the old barn that Randy renovated several years ago to serve, among other duties, for processing game. It was the original building, at least a century old, used by his granddad in the early 1900s when the family's 1,500-acre farm was in full operation. Another feature that's attractive to visitors is the operating, waterwheel-powered gristmill where corn is ground into fresh meal to take home for your favorite recipes.
The history of High Pine began with the family-owned farm that involved raising livestock, crops and timber. All the work was done by Randy's grandparents and their four children, so everyone had to pitch in. When Randy started cleaning out the barn for renovation, much of the old original implements were still stored there, including a cotton duster that was pulled by mules. The Powells said that when they renovated the barn, they wanted to keep as much of its rustic character as possible. They added sections of brick flooring as well as a raised wood floor, plus a 70-foot porch that overlooks the sun setting over rolling hills planted with various crops. It's a great location for special occasions, a barbecue or just relaxing at the end of the day. Everyone who visits High Pine really enjoys the barn.
An Interview With Randy Powell Owner and Operator of High Pine Hunting Preserve & Lodge 1/9/04
How much land do you manage?
Using the BASF products, I manage roughly 3,500 acres. I manage the land for turkey, deer and quail hunting. This hunting operation has been up and running four years now.
What is the composition of this land?
It's actually a little bit of everything. There are three creeks that flow through our property. Our land also borders on the fairly well-known Kinchafoonee creek. Bordering these creeks are really good hardwood bottoms. In the middle of the preserve, we have a farming operation where we cultivate corn, peanuts and soybeans. That farmland takes up about 700 acres. The rest of the property is made up of planted pines and some natural hardwoods. Basically we have all the ingredients you need to have healthy wildlife habitat.
How is BASF's Arsenal applied to your property?
We've used it 2 or 3 different ways. We have applied some by air on some really dense brush. We do a lot of backpack select-spray application where we want to take out some of the smaller hardwood but leave the larger hardwood. We also use it for grass control. Arsenal is a really good Bermuda grass eradicator. Once you get Bermuda grass in an area, nothing else can grow there. Arsenal applied by skidders does the job where we need it most.
How do herbicides help pine production and recreation resources on your land?
For pine production Arsenal takes out the unwanted species, which gives you a dominant tree with no competition around it. For recreational uses, it allows you to go in and wipe out some thicker brush around let's say your white oak trees. So your white oak trees will have no competition and will get more nutrients and water, hence they will bear more acorns. Also, we do a lot of quail hunting down here. Arsenal helps us control the unwanted brush and vines and that type of stuff making the habitat better and the hunting better as well.
What grows in place of the unwanted hardwood underbrush that has been eradicated by Arsenal?
For instance, you eradicate a canopy that was covering up an area. Now that area will get sunlight for the first time. Chances are you'll have annuals popping up, broadleaves or some grasses—perfect tender browse for whitetails.
Using BASF's Quality Vegetation Management techniques of applying low-volume selective herbicides, such as Arsenal AC, wildlife-preferred food sources fourish. For example, forbs (the preferred food of whitetail deer) increased 400% on a site treated with Arsenal AC, Habitat and Chopper. Total deer forage doubled from 25 to 51 pounds per acre. And treated quail runs produced more than four times as much game bird food compared to areas that were mechanically altered using skidders/dozers or treated with other herbicides. With those kinds of results, you'll attract larger, more diverse wildlife populations.Source: Hurst, G.A. 1987. Vegetative responses to imazapyr for pine release. Proceedings of the Southern Weed Science Society. 40:247. Witt, J.S., A.S. Johnston, K.V. Miller, J.J. Brooks, P.M. Dougherty, P.B. Bush. 1993. Response of wildlife food plants to site preparation in the Georgia Piedmont. In: Forestry and Wildlife Workshop: Technology and Environmental Issues. Clemson University. September 1-3, 1993.
How is Arsenal used in conjunction with your planted food plots?
I use Arsenal to control the edges of my plots. For example sometimes unwanted trees grow into our food plots. Arsenal is a perfect way to kill the competition around our plots.
BASF Was Asked-
What are the benefits of using low-volume selective herbicides, such as Arsenal AC versus no-selective products like Oust and RoundUp or a mechanical means on removing unwanted vegetation?Selective herbicides allow wildlife preferred vegetation to flourish while removing unwanted vegetation...Non-selective do not. In addition an application of a selective herbicide is only necessary every 7 to 10 years. That can save you hundreds of dollars in labor costs versus mechanical and controlled burning. Managing your forest properly not only enhances wildlife habitat, it opens up your land and increases visibility by controlling unwanted underbrush. This makes your land more aesthetically pleasing, safer and more valuable for recreation and hunting.
BASF Was Asked-
How do the products work?
The active ingredient in Arsenal AC, Habitat and Chopper works on an enzyme found only in plants. It will not harm humans, animals, birds, insects or fish. Arsenal AC, Habitat and Chopper are readily absorbed through leaves, stems and roots and is translocated rapidly throughout the plant, with accumulation in the meristematic regions. Treated plants stop growing soon after spray application.
MORE ABOUT THE TOP-NOTCH OPERATION
The property was expanded when Randy's dad's bordering farm of 2,000 acres plus another 1,500+ of leased land were added to the overall plantation. So High Pine actually encompasses a total of more than 5,000 acres, meaning there's plenty of elbow-room to hunt. Randy says when they first started, there were almost no roads in the wooded sections and they've since constructed about 15 miles of woods roads. And then there was the task of clearing and setting up the crop fields, food plots and bordering habitat, and expanding or building ponds, which were then stocked.
We feed the deer year-round, Randy says. We have high feeders, four-season food plots, including those for winter, and in spring and summer we put out mineral blocks for antler growth. All this, coupled with our massive fields of soybeans, corn and peanuts, produces not only quantity but quality deer.
Although they hire seasonal guides, Randy and Susan do the lion's share of the lodge work. I do about 80% of the cooking and Susan takes care of the setups and takedowns and also many cosmetic touches to enhance your surroundings, such as making sure we have fresh cut flower arrangements. Our lodge isn't your 'ordinary' hunting lodge. We like to treat our visitors special, like part of our family. There are no bunk beds, but rather full-size beds and spacious bedrooms.
Randy was in the forestry business for 22 years, but has totally invested his time and money the last six years preparing this superb operation. We've spent basically zero dollars on advertising, so nobody knows we're here. However, the response we get back (from guests) is incredible and we've had a lot of repeat business. When I was actively in the forestry business, we dealt with some big companies, and they've given us a lot of support and still do.
Susan notes that the water-powered gristmill was the work of Randy's dad. The mill, which had been inoperable for years, had been partially disassembled, and Randy's dad went around and recovered all the pieces and then put it back together the way it was.
THE HUNTING SEASONS
The hunting seasons, which account for about half the year, keep the Powells busy. When hunting's going on, we're obviously working and open seven days a week, Susan says. Pretty much it's just Randy, me and three guides making sure our guests are comfortable, successful and enjoying themselves.
When it comes to the hunting, High Pine's priorities are evenly divided among deer, turkey and quail, all of which are very abundant, thanks to ideal food, habitat and sound management. None of this property had ever been commercially hunted, Randy says, so we had an abundance of deer and turkey to work with right from the beginning. And once we started supplementing stocked quail with the existing wild flocks, their numbers jumped dramatically as well. Improving food and habitat, coupled with quality management of our wildlife, was the final piece.
At High Pine, deer hunters are urged to practice quality deer management in choosing their game. We have an 8-point or better buck rule, Randy advises, and we also have deer cams--automatic cameras--scattered about the various hunting areas, starting in September, so hunters can preview what's out there, waiting for them, before they go hunting. Once they see all those big racks, that really helps them to be selective during their hunts because they know there are some trophy bucks prowling about.
FAMILY RUN, FAMILIES WELCOME!
We like to promote family hunting and visits, Randy adds. As such, we make exceptions to the eight points or better rule when it comes to people who've never taken a deer, especially young hunters. Then it's okay if they want to take a nice 6-pointer for their first deer.The hunting methods guests may choose depend entirely on each individual's taste. There are tree and ground stands, tower stands and ground huts overlooking feeding areas and travel routes. All are designed to make the hunters comfortable and also allow them to see plenty of game on each outing. Hunters may choose to hunt in open areas, such as along food plots and fields, or in the wooded sections where deer often bed or travel in during the day. Randy also puts out temporary pop-up blinds or tree stands when he encounters an area that's suddenly become hot. Hunters can opt to hunt with gun (.243 minimum caliber), muzzleloader, bow, or even camera or camcorder.
Randy says the quail hunting and fishing really compliment the deer and turkey hunting. It gives hunters a break from the normal routine of sitting on stand or working gobblers. It's also something that hunters who've tagged their deer or turkey can do afterwards. We have shotguns and fishing equipment they can use, plus we have excellent pointers in our kennel. Of course guests are welcome to bring along their own gear. Many guests can't believe the number of quail they see in just a couple hours of hunting over our dogs. In fact, quail hunting has become as popular as deer hunting with many of our repeat guests. We've created great quail cover—including buffer areas along fields—and with heavy stocking and good carryover, our population of birds just keeps climbing each year.
FISHING AND BEAVER CALLING?
The fishing includes big bass and catfish, crappie and brim. The bassing action can be nonstop and catfish can run up to about 15 pounds. There are also pond suckers, redhorse suckers and pickerel in the big mill pond. Randy says he often suggests deer and spring gobbler hunters take a break and spend a few hours each day either hunting quail or fishing or both. We can supply them with tackle and shotguns. The quail season runs from October 1 to April 1, but we don't start hunting them until November first because the cover is still green and lush in October.
An unusual attraction at High Pine is the chance to go beaver calling. With several beaver ponds on the plantation and plenty of beaver, one of the guides has perfected a calling technique that lures the big tree-gnawing rodents within handshaking distance. The Powells said the first time they went beaver calling with him, he called in five. It was amazing how quickly they responded, Randy recalls. Our guests who've done this really enjoyed it. It's truly something different that few people have ever experienced.
High Pine is also not crowded with other guests. Currently the maximum number is about seven or eight, which means each visitor enjoys a truly close-knit family-type atmosphere, whether he or she's hunting, fishing or just relaxing around the lodge. Maybe some day we'll expand the number of guests we can host, Randy says, but we don't want to turn this into a production-line lodge, even though there's plenty of game to support more hunters.
Future plans for High Pine include a new hunter bunkhouse and waterfowl hunting. And judging from what Randy and Susan have already accomplished in such a short time, High Pine will join the short list of the best hunting preserves and lodges in the nation.
For more information on High Pine's outfitting facility, please visit http://www.HighPineLodge.com.
High Pine Hunting Preserve and Lodge
P.O. Box 706
Buena Vista, GA 31803