Hunting and tradition go hand in hand in the American South. So when our Sport Shop team headed to Cabin Bluff, the oldest private hunting lodge in North America, we had a sense that they would experience plenty of both. What we didn’t foresee was the timelessness that still exists deep in the palmetto and pine habitat on the Cumberland Island seashore. It’s a time warp that draws hunters from around the country for traditional Southern quail hunts in a traditional local setting. We asked Sport Shop expert Rebecca Etchen Peters—a Yankee from a family with generations of shooting hertiage—to describe the experience. This is her report. –LYA Editor
Words by Rebecca Etchen Peters, Images by Motofish
The minute you step out of the van at Cabin Bluff, you are immediately overwhelmed by the sense of tradition and history that it holds. Not only a wonderful hunting destination, but also a unique combination of resort-level activities blended with an old- style plantation. It feels as if time has forgotten the Bluff. The tall old trees, single-story cabins, and the quiet surroundings offer an insulating and peaceful feel, far from the rest of the world. Founded in 1928, it has been established and become known as a premier hunting and fishing retreat that has attracted sportsmen and sportswomen for decades. You look out the main pier, and you are looking upon Cumberland Island in the distance. Once a getaway for the players of American history, including the Carnegies, it is now the largest barrier island in Georgia, and a natural seashore.
Each morning and afternoon, there is traditional quail hunting – which, of course, is wonderful. Quail buggies, pointing and retrieving dogs, and all the telltale signs of traditional Southern quail hunting. The habitat is much like you would find in a lot of Southern quail hunting areas, with the added mix that Cabin Bluff is on the water. There are even popular and fruitful hunting fields that have water or marsh as the backdrop. On a few evenings, we ventured out to the sporting clays range after we were done hunting for the day. The course is beautiful – set back in the trees, with some stations shooting out over the marsh or water as well.
The plantation cabins are all walking distance from the water and main pier. So each evening before dinner, you can sit outside, overlooking the pier and water in one of the rocking chairs or hammocks that are on the front lawn . I typically wandered around, as all the cabins and lodge are decorated with the pictures of sportsmen and sportswomen who have visited the Bluff over the years. When you look at the framed pictures–spanning decades–it is amazing to think of all that has changed since Cabin Bluff started hosting sportsmen and women in the ’ 20s. For the sportswoman, the Bluff still offers the ability to accommodate the seasoned and the novice: a great place for veterans, as well as a unique and friendly place for your first clay target or quail.
Whether a hunter, fisherman, or individuals and families looking for a getaway, you can certainly appreciate all the Southern details and hospitality. Amazing Southern cuisine, day in and day out, combined with the warm friendliness for which the South is known. Over dinner, everyone discussed the massive long driveway entrance to the Bluff, which the staff quickly told us is 2.2 miles long. I am convinced they know that because of all the guests running/walking it to burn off the previous night’s pecan pie. I know I felt those 4.4 miles…but the pie was worth it.
The world has changed since the founding of Cabin Bluff, but it seems to have held onto the best parts of its past. The combination of water and field activities, unbelievable setting, and ever-present Southern hospitality make it a timeless and unique destination. The kind of timelessness that the Bluff offers makes it easy to understand why it has been around for almost 100 years.
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