Meet me in the Old South

Entertaining a group of outdoors enthusiasts — be they coworkers, friends or family — may seem like a daunting task, but when put into capable hands, it's a breeze. There are several full-service hunting and fishing operations in the Southeast.

Most of them offer customized service, and all of them strive to make your stay positive, memorable and enriching. Whether you're gathering for a corporate meeting or a family gathering, you'd be wise to consider one of these four destinations for old-time Southern hospitality, relaxation and fun.

Bienville Plantation
White Springs, Fla.

Bienville Plantation is primarily a fishing destination. It's located about 20 miles south of the Florida/Georgia line and nearly 15 miles northwest of Lake City, Fla. With more than two dozen lakes and a year-round growing season, Bienville is crawling with trophy bass.

Fishing personalities such as Hank Parker, Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston frequent Bienville to film TV shows and host guests. Bienville can also accommodate groups of hunters or anglers. Five 5-bedroom lodges are on-site, with optional cook/maid service. Meetings of up to 50 people can be accommodated in the main lodge. If you like to creep through the woods rather than the water, trophy whitetail hunts, duck, quail and alligator excursions are available as well.

Five cabins can comfortably house 10 people each, with meeting space for the whole gang in the main lodge. Wireless internet, full kitchens and satellite TV is standard in each cabin. If you request the maid and cook service, be sure to ask for the fried catfish.

After a stay, you may want to ask about a yearly membership. 16673 SE 81st Drive
County Road 137
White Springs, FL 32096
386-397-1989
www.bienville.com

The Gilchrist Club
Trenton, Fla.

For quality of entertaining and hunting, The Gilchrist Club is one of the premier destinations in the South. The club is located near Trenton, Fla., in the Sunshine State's Big Bend region. The club's property covers 27,000 acres of timber land and is managed for quality game.

The club offers many kinds of hunting, from deer, hog, quail and turkey to alligator, as well as a budding fishing program. Saltwater excursions are also available. A 5-stand sporting clays facility is currently open, with a 12-stand facility opening December 2010. Four lakes are stocked annually with fingerling bass, shiners and other baitfish.

Earlier this year, one young man bagged a mature Osceola gobbler and sacked a 10 1/2-pound largemouth before 10 a.m. on his birthday. Five private cabins are on the premises and each of the 24 bedrooms has a private bath. Each lodge overlooks the lake, has a private fire pit and game table. In the future, a new Cubby Room will accommodate up to 150 guests for dinner. It should be noted that membership to the Gilchrist Club is not open to the general public.

It is considered an exclusive club and membership is by invitation only. However, if you would like to host an event with the Club, you must also be a prospective member. Memberships are offered on a case-by-case basis if the prospective member meets the Club's standards.

A review board is in place solely to protect the integrity of the club and its guests. Call for address
352-463-7070
www.gilchristclub.com

Old Spring Hill Plantation
Eufaula, Ala.

This cotton mill-turned-sporting-plantation exemplifies Southern Hospitality. For a day of sheer angling bliss, Old Spring Hill is hard to beat.

The lakes are managed for both quality and quantity of bass, with frying-size panfish lurking near shore as well. Several lakes are available to fish, and rental boats are on site as well. Hunts are available, too. Shoot bobwhite quail from a mule-drawn wagon as dogs leap about in bird-rich fields.

For turkey hunters, several thousand acres of gobbler-friendly land is managed for you to hunt either on your own or with a guide. For deer hunters, Old Spring Hill prides itself on having land that sees few hunters and is rich with big bucks. Continental-style pheasant hunts are also available.

Regardless of which hunt you choose, your game is processed on site and is packaged for you to take home upon departure. For meetings or gatherings, 24 guests can be accommodated at a time, and all can participate in any hunting or fishing activity.

Owners Phil and Brandy Anderson will go to great lengths to ensure your stay is both memorable and successful. Old Spring Hill promises to deliver "Deep South hunting and fishing the way it used to be." 2382 Spring Hill Road
Eufaula, Ala., 36027
334-688-5050
www.oldspringhillplantation.com

Hendricks Creek
Celina, Tenn., and Burkesville, Ky.

Dale Hollow Lake is the playground for southern Kentucky and north Tennessee, and sees hundreds of vacationers and trophy smallmouth hunters per year. However, tucked away in an arm of the western part of the lake lies Hendricks Creek Resort. Hendricks Creek is made up of a flotilla of houseboats that are available for rent. Not familiar with the lake that produced the world record smallmouth?

Guides are available for hire, including the Smallmouth Guru, Stephen Headrick. If you prefer slightly earthier accommodations, cottages are available for rent as well. 945 Hendricks Creek Road
Burkesville, KY 42717
270-433-7172
www.hendrickscreekresort.com

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