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Hard Labor of Love
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     Ted is now in the process of purchasing roughly half of the 6,000 acres, which have been under family ownership for three generations. “I felt like my parents had given me enough,” he said. “I wanted to buy this fair and square. That’s forced me to learn how to balance both wildlife and timber management. I’ve had to set short-term and long-term goals that require constant tending. It’s a very tough way to make a living. But I love it, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

     Genial and accommodating, Ted is exactly the kind of man you’d like to have as a country neighbor. As a professional timber cruiser and broker, he’s always willing to help out a friend or neighbor by estimating the value of their woodlands – at no charge – then arranging for the logging and sale.    

     To Ted, wild game and water and the very air we breathe have no boundaries, so what’s good for his neighbor’s land is good for his land. Indeed, the friendly Floridian reflects the same passion and philosophy for land management that renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold espoused so many years ago – that we don’t truly “own” the land and so, during our brief time on earth, we should serve as good stewards – to manage our resources so future generations can enjoy the same natural wonders that we enjoyed.

Hunters can use the dogs at Hard Labor Creek or bring their own

     As we rode through the property in Ted’s 4-door pickup, he described some of the techniques he’s applying to the plantation. “We do a lot of controlled burning,” he said, pointing toward a fresh carpet of greenery beneath the pines. “It helps all the wildlife. Quail, deer, turkey, everything. We burn and mow different sections at different times so that we always have various stages of growth. To make sure there’s plenty of mast, we hand-plant several types of oaks along the drainages.”

     Ted also hopes to plant two or three acres of annual food plots for every forty to fifty acres of woodland. “Bicolor lespedeza, chufas and oats are the primary crops,” he explained. These plots, combined with mild winters, good habitat and plenty of edges, should continue to establish some decent numbers of wild quail. But we’ll always count on some of the better quail breeders to provide the bulk of our birds.”

Hard Labor Creek offers top notch hunting dogs     On the second morning of our stay, after a hearty breakfast, we piled into the hunting jeeps and headed out to bust some coveys. The weather was cool but sunny when we met up with our guides, Bobby and Mark Haddock. The brothers work in state law enforcement for their “day jobs,” but their true love is bird dogs and bird hunting.

     The two men hit the fields with as much enthusiasm as their beautiful German shorthairs and Elhew pointers. The Haddock brothers know the value of great dogs and all four were top-notch. We split up into two groups, my thirteen-year-old son Sam, Sporting Classics Editor Chuck Wechsler and I with Mark, while Matt Foster of Gerber Knives and Mark Davis of Shakespeare Fishing Tackle joined Bobby.

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Hard Labor Creek Hunting Preserve, P.O. Box 739, Chipley, FL 32428
Phone 1-850-527-6063 | ted@floridaquail.com