Dan, the big brown-and-white pointer, was the first to go on point. Mark spotted his
arched tail quivering above the broomstraw, his neck thrust forward toward a blowdown at
the edge of the pines. We positioned ourselves for the approach Chuck on the right
flank, Sam in the middle, and me on the left. Mark moved in past the pointer and a dozen
birds flushed wildly, up, out, left and right. Sam fired straight ahead, sending a
bobwhite tumbling to the ground. Chuck spun on his heel, folding another that had zipped
behind us. I managed somehow to miss two shots at a low bird zigging and zagging through
the pines. Not the easiest shot in the world, but still . . .
The action remained good for much of the morning, but as the noon
hour approached, birds, dogs and people were moving a little slower. With a few dozen
quail for dinner, it was time to head back to the lodge for lunch.
Oh, did we mention the lodge? Teds A-frame chalet is
surrounded by woods on three sides, with the plantations spring-fed bass lake
providing a picturesque backyard. After a cold evening in a deer stand or a long morning
chasing quail, the lodge is a welcome sight.
Winding down the gravel drive, our vehicles came to a stop in front of the
1800-square-foot lodge where we were greeted by a crackling fireplace and the wonderful
aroma of venison chili. I heard someone mumble something about jumping in the hot tub. Sam
and I opted for the pool table and a little 8-ball.
The three-bedroom lodge offers a comfortable, civilized change of
pace from the woods, swamps and fields around it. Another nice diversion from hunting
comes from the 85-acre private lake. Surrounded by cypress trees and carpeted with stumps
and snags, the water has the ingredients for a primo trophy bass sanctuary.
Weve got some holes out there that are twenty-four feet deep, Ted
explained, so the fish can escape the temperature extremes. Weve set out a lot
of reefs and brushpiles for extra cover, and dumped in thousands of pounds of lime to
bring the waters ph in balance. Plus weve stocked it with some of the finest
strains of Florida largemouths.
After four genuinely relaxing days, it was time to say goodbye to Hard Labor Creek. Along
with a cooler of quail, we were hauling back a spike buck that Sam had taken one evening.
Mark Davis also had good luck with a hefty eight-pointer.
As time goes by, there will be more and bigger bucks chasing all
the does at Hard Labor Creek. The pond will hold more big Florida bass, and the landscape
will hold more coveys of quail. For sure, with Teds hard work and passion for the
outdoors, everything will just keep getting better.
Standing with me beside the lake on our last evening, Ted
reflected on his future plans. Im really getting the hunting operation
underway at a good time. The states larger tracts are slowly being subdivided, and
that means the end of more hunting areas. The population growth is shifting to our part of
the state, and this is one of the last undeveloped areas of Florida. All those factors
will make what I have to offer here at Hard Labor Creek even more valuable down the
Hard Labor Creek Plantation is located just a few minutes south
of Interstate 10 in the Florida panhandle. There are a number of small airports nearby, as
well as major jetports in Panama City and Tallahassee. Quail season goes from October 1st
through April 1st. Rifle season for deer runs, with the exception of a short break after
Thanksgiving, from late November through mid-February, with archery and muzzleloading
continuing until February 25th. If you visit during the winter, be ready for temperature
extremes. The mercury can drop to sub-freezing in the morning, then give you a good dose
of sub-tropical heat in the afternoon.
For more details or to make reservations, contact Ted Everett, Hard Labor Creek
Plantation, PO Box 684, Chipley, Florida 32428; 1-850-638-4316; Fax: 850-638-0758; firstname.lastname@example.org