A Rio Piedra Adventure
From January 6 to 10 members of the Shooting Sportsman faithful met at Rio Piedra Plantation, in Camilla, Georgia, for three days of first-class quail hunting, serious food and sybaritic accommodations. Face it: If we don’t deserve a jazzy hunt every now and then, who does?
Rio Piedra—Spanish for “river of stone”—is on the Flint River in the heart of Georgia’s quail belt. Tall longleaf pines and burn-controlled undergrowth make things just right for Gentleman Bob.
Bill and Annie Atchison run the show and are masters at keeping things operating smoothly, even when Mother N has other ideas. Dirk is in charge of the kitchen and knows what he is doing. This isn’t the “brown food and plenty of it” usually seen in the land of fried grease. Dinners included grilled New Zealand lamb shank “Provencal;” slow roasted, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin; and quail smothered in a wild mushroom demy-glace. The softshell-crab appetizers were exceptional. The wine list each night held four whites and five very nice reds. They must be doing something right, as Rio Piedra is sold out for the season.
As our Reader/Writer group experienced in previous visits to Wynfield and Quail Country plantations, Rio Piedra has experienced guides and enthusiastic dogs. We are starting to see more and more English cockers used as flushers behind the pointers and setters. The only problem with the cockers is that they are so cute that everyone wants to take one home, so they are in short supply. Trust me: When that little cocker blasts in past the pointers, those quail are absolutely, positively going to fly. But naturally all SSM readers are crack shots. On one flush I saw both gunners get doubles. Not to be outdone, our guide once caught a quail by hand in midair when it tried to double back over the dogs. Some guys are just too good. Our limit of 20 birds per day was more than generous, but you had to work for it.
I’m starting to see more .410s being used by experienced shots. If you know what you are doing, they work quite nicely indeed. The occasional successful loooong .410 shot is always cause for a round of applause. Still, 28s and 20s were most popular. Since it is an SSM shoot, there were some really nice guns, including one of Chris Batha’s sidelock Charles Boswells.
The first day was beautiful, with a high of about 60°F. Day Two started just above freezing but got up to about 50°F. That night the TV warned of an incoming ice storm for northern Georgia and above. Atlanta’s airport would be affected, and flights were being cancelled. That caused our Left Coast contingent to make alternative plans. The morning of Day Three was just above freezing. The quail loved it and flew like crazy. Better than the airplanes did, for sure. Half the crowd left after lunch to assure flights. The rest of us hunted the afternoon and regretfully left the next day. It was quite a time.
In 2012 our Reader/Writer quail trip will be to Pine Hill Plantation (http://www.pinehillplantation.com/) from February 16 to 20. This one will be done the old way, with the Guns traveling on mule-drawn wagons or horseback in pursuit of mostly wild quail. The lodge is endorsed by Orvis and Beretta, so it ought to be something.
Brier-scratched boots off. Most welcome beer open.