Southern Woods offers a ‘quality quail hunting experience’

By William Hand

Just a step outside Sylvester, Ga., rests a beautiful tract of land that offers hunters the opportunity to engage in arguably the most exciting wing shooting sport on earth.

Southern Woods Plantation, located on Highway 33 in Sylvester, strives to provide hunters with “South Georgia Quail Hunting at its Best…”

Rifle & Rod is lucky enough to have recently formed a friendship with professional bass angler JTodd Tucker and his wife, Emily. During quail season JTodd guides at Southern Woods Plantation, which has established itself as one of the premier quail hunting plantations in the United States.

Southern Woods Plantation is located four miles south of Sylvester, among the towering Georgia pines, yet only 30 minutes from the commercial airport in Albany, Ga. Southern Woods opened its doors in 1996. Businessman Gene Bishop and plantation expert Benjamin Deloach (Benjie) spearheaded the effort to provide south Georgia with a top notch facility to quench the thirst for the avid quail enthusiast.

Since 1996, it has grown into a premier quail hunting plantation with 27 employees. The unique aspect of Southern Woods is that Gene and Benjie, along with their colleagues, truly designed and built the hunting lodge themselves. Calling the building a lodge is a smidgen of an understatement — a 26,000-square-foot mansion is much more accurate. CNN Travel ranked Southern Woods Plantation in the top six hunting destinations in the country.

It all started with six bedrooms and progressed into 21, over a 14-year period. The living room area is littered with mounts from all over the world, including an African elephant and other exotic game. Atlanta native Gene Bishop and his sons tagged most of the intriguing animals.

On both sides of the beautiful lounge area are two bars where the hunters may wind down after the exhilaration of the hunt. When asked why there was a need for two bars, Benjie stated that “Sometimes we have different groups and we have to separate them.” It seems to be that the competitive nature that coincides with quail hunting can bring out the alpha male in many hunters.

More than 4,000 hunters cycle through the plantation every quail season and bag around 140,000 birds. Southern Woods offers half-day, full-day, and two-day hunts. Hunters will be accompanied by hunting guides and be partnered with professionally trained hunting dogs while trekking through the hundred-plus-year old native pines in specifically-designed four-person buggies. Training of a bird dog is a time-consuming and extremely delicate process — a process which requires intense commitment and care. When achieved correctly, the delight and elation that surface is one only a worthy duty can bring. When hunters experience Southern Woods’ expert gun dogs at work, it has often been viewed as a miracle in action.

For many outdoorsmen and women, fishing coincides perfectly with hunting. Southern Woods urges guests to bring fishing tackle. Eleven ponds are scattered throughout the 2,500 acres, with one special pond housing the unique Tiger Bass. A Tiger Bass is actually a registered trademark “pure northern largemouth bass bred with a strain of proven trophy Florida largemouth bass.”

Southern Woods’ 21 bedrooms comfortably lodge up to 40 sportsmen and each room includes its own private bath. Included with the overnight visit will be morning and afternoon hunts, as well as a full plantation breakfast and lunch. The day will conclude with a social time for relaxing followed by a delectable evening meal.

Southern Woods also has the capacity and beautiful scenery to accommodate weddings, corporate events and other social engagements. Corporate facilities provide both the privacy and the amenities one needs to be productive and comfortable. With more than six seating areas there is always a relaxing place to sit and talk.

Located next to the living room and in the same room as one of the bars is a billiards table. As far as weddings are concerned a couple can say “I Do” on the lawn, portico or hall. The native, beautiful scenery will be sure to add much of the ambiance a couple will desire to make this moment one that will be cherished for the rest of their lives together.

As a guest at Southern Woods, the ultimate goal is to leave with a smile and a strong sense of satisfaction. Whether hunting the “prince of game birds,” escaping on a corporate retreat, or joining two families into one, Southern Woods has the perfect atmosphere. Just remember that when you stay at Southern Woods Plantation, you are family and family members are always welcome to come back home.

For more information, visit or mail to “Southern Woods Plantation, 2331 Georgia Highway 33 South, Sylvester, GA 31791.” Call the plantation at (229) 776-0585 or (229) 347-0725, email or visit online at

Photos by Emily Tucker

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