Thursday, December 4, 2008
Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy Celebrity Hunt
By SUE WATSON
Quail hunting was at its best at the Celebrity Campionship Hunt in November at Fitch Farms/Galena Plantation.
A group of over 40 businessmen, elected officials and a few celebrities, including Tom Lester of the comedy series “Green Acres,” were guests during the three-day hunt.
Proceeds from the annual hunt go the charities of choice - Ames Plantation in Tenn., (home of the National Field Trial Championship for all-age bird dogs), the National Bird Dog Museum at Grand Junction, Tenn., and Governor Haley Barbour’s Katrina Recovery fund. The hunt raises about $30,000 each year to be distributed among the three charities, according to host Bill Fitch.
Galena Plantation, a picturesque 7,000-acre estate of rolling hills covered with hardwoods and pine and with pastures filled with Texas Longhorns and donkeys, is a setting for hunting enthusiasts year around. The plantation provides abundant habitat for natural wildlife - white-tail deer, wild turkey and other fauna.
The quail used for the Celebrity Championship Hunt held each year in November and the National Championship Field Trials held in December each year are farm-raised in Selma, Ala. They are released in September and take cover in feed plots bordering natural hardwood and pine stands.
A typical day consists of the arrival in the morning or afternoon of guests who bring their shotguns and hunting garb in the beds of their pickups or the backs of suburban utility vehicles.
Everything else, including the shotgun shells, is provided by Fitch Enterprises.
Guests are served three home-cooked meals a day at the lodge starting with gravy and biscuits, bacon, sausage and eggs, hot coffee and the trimmings.
Afterward, the group divides up into sets of four to six hunters per wagon, pulled by mules and driven by expert wagon masters. Riders on horseback and the dog handlers lead the pack as the wagons roll out on well worn trails, stopping near food plots when championship bird dogs have pointed birds and wait for the flush.
Hunters disembark from their wagons and flush the quail by walking in a line all facing the same direction. Handlers, the dogs, and attendants watch where the quail are downed, then a thorough search follows so no quail are left in the field.
Quail are dressed, cooked and served with wild rice back at the lodge.
After about three hours of hunting, most guests have worked up an appetite for lunch or dinner prepared in Joan Fitch’s kitchen and using her favorite tried and true recipes. A typical dinner includes quail and pork or beef, corn, butterbeans or green beans grown on the farm, and cornbread fritters. Desserts may include bread pudding or fruit cobbler. There’s plenty of iced tea to quench a yeoman's thirst.
In the evenings, guests gather around the fireplace and enjoy live music, camaraderie and networking.
Guests may leave at the end of the day, stay over in one of the cabins at Fitch Farms, or rent a room in Holly Springs.
Arrangements for company-sponsored events or retreats at Fitch Farms/Galena Plantation can be arranged by calling 622-252-8855 or visiting online at www.fitchfarms.com.
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