South East Virginia Hunt / Review - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-16-2012, 11:25 PM Thread Starter
The Man
 
loridr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Pa, Dauphin co
Posts: 6,711
Back To Top
South East Virginia Hunt / Review

John and I just returned from a six day hunt with Southampton Outfitters in south east Virginia, 15 miles east of Emporia Va.

The farm:

Southampton Outfitters is owned and operated by Mark Pope on his family’s 5000 acre farm. The farm is a full time operation growing beans, cotton and peanuts; many of the peanuts being processed and marketed by the Popes themselves at their family owned facility. In addition to the crop business they also run about 400 head of hogs on the place. The farm is mostly cropland but is traversed by a swamp that meanders through the acreage creating several miles of hardwood bottoms. The number of White Oaks in the bottoms was impressive but there are also Live and Red Oaks, a lot of Poplar, River Birch, some Beech, and the abundant Holley make the bottoms just plain beautiful. Adding to the forested ground are numerous pine plantations grown for saw timber. Scattered around the farm are numerous food plots (as if those deer and turkeys don’t already have an abundance of food, LOL). Most stands are situated in the hardwood bottoms along the swamp, but there are also stands on many of the food plots and field edges as well.

The facilities:

The hunting operation is tucked away in an isolated corner of the farm with a nice pond on the grounds; there is also a large lake on the farm stocked with Large Mouth Bass and Crappies. Buildings include a small rustic cabin that includes a kitchenette, a den with a large TV with Sat service, and a gas fireplace. The cabin sleeps six in three bedrooms and has two baths. There is also a bunkhouse that sleeps about ten hunters but has no baths or lounge area. A large lodge building includes no sleeping facilities but houses the kitchen, dining room and serves as a gathering place with a large den area and a large screen TV with Sat service. There are also two full baths in the lodge for the hunters staying in the bunkhouse to use.

The hunt:

Conditions were rough for good deer hunting: it was the 4th week of firearms (shotgun) season which immediately followed the rut archery season, so Mark was booked up from about November 1st straight through December 1st. The area is also in the heart of deer hound hunting country, and even though Marks farm is off limits to the hunt clubs, hounds don’t heed property lines. Needless to say the farm had seen a lot of pressure. Additionally, the area was experiencing unseasonably warm weather for two weeks prior to our arrival which continued through the first half of our hunt. The deer were just not moving, particularly for the first four days, and since John and I were the only hunters we weren’t covering much ground.

The first morning, Monday, just prior to the 11am pickup time, I had a deer come running down the swamp bottom right to me. At about 15 feet I plugged it on the run and it fell at the base of my tree, a fat button buck. In the evening John had a small buck walk up to him at O-dark-30, which he let walk. Tuesday morning, late again, about 10am, I had a mature doe, two fawns and a yearling come trotting through with no shot opportunity. Wednesday and Thursday we saw nothing. The deer weren’t even coming out in the fields until about 10pm and we were seeing very few in the early mornings driving out to the stands. Friday morning John had a doe come barreling through with no chance for a shot, but saw five on a food plot in the evening and killed a doe with a 150 yard shotgun shot; great shot.

The deer had begun coming out to the fields earlier each night the past few days so that by Thursday evening we were seeing quite a few while driving back to camp from the stands just after dark. Saturday, our last, was to see the first morning in the thirty’s so we had high hopes, but again we saw nothing.

The Pros:

The farm is fantastic with an abundance of crops, food plots and a good mix of wooded cover. Even though we had an extremely slow hunt, I have absolutely no doubt that the place is crawling with deer, including some very large bucks due to the 14” minimum spread Mark imposes with a $300 fine for undersize bucks and a $50 fine for buttons. There are also lots of turkeys and Mark is definitely an extremely experienced turkey hunter.

It was a bit hard to gauge guides and service as John and I were the only hunters in camp, so of course we received the star treatment. Mark himself acted as guide, cook and companion since he only had two hunters and did a great job wearing all three hats. Mark was a great guy, an obviously experienced and knowledgeable hunter, and a fantastic cook (I understand he always does most of the cooking). There was plenty of food as well as sodas and tea always available. We did meet two of his regular helpers who were both nice guys and obviously knowledgeable hunters. I was impressed with Marks choice of stands in regard to wind direction; we always had the wind in our face. The stands were mostly man-and-a-half Gorilla Ladders and were comfortable enough and well placed.

The Cons:

If all you require in the way of accommodations reminds you of an old time Pa Deer Camp, you should not find the facilities uncomfortable, as for me, I like a little nicer place. The place was rather dirty and unkempt. The cabin and lodge would be very nice with a good top to bottom cleaning, but as it was both were dirty and the cabin was very musty due to lack of attention. There was quite a bit of “stuff” strewn around the grounds. The bunkhouse did not look very comfortable to me, not the kind of place I would like to be stuck in with a bunch of strangers. With just a little work and investment Mark could have a really first class operation; I know times are tough but an addition to the lodge with comfortable sleeping quarters and the engagement of a good cleaning service could put this operation on a par with the best. Mark is planning on adding a large pavilion/porch to the front of the lodge.

This may be a pro or a con depending on your point of view and sensibilities, but as Mark is sponsored by Wild Turkey Bourbon, there is no shortage of liquor in the place, LOL. Great thing if you like to drink; lots of variety and volume of booze free for the drinking after the hunt, but some may find it uncomfortable or offensive. Me and John? We gave the new Wild Turkey Honey a pretty good test in the evenings!

The stands were set up more for archery hunters than gun hunters, which is understandable as archery is the majority of Marks business. The stands could have used some attention to shooting lanes for gun hunters with some brushing done in the winter between seasons. The Gorilla stands have only a front drop down shooting rail; gun hunters of course benefit from full surround rails.

To sum it up:

We had a pretty crappy hunt on a very nice farm, with very nice and knowledgeable people, great food and adequate facilities. I have no doubt that if we’d been archery hunting in late Oct. or early Nov. we would have had a great hunt; same for the opening week or two of shotgun season. I am definitely planning on returning for one of those weeks in the future because the place has real potential.

Loridr
loridr is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-19-2012, 11:35 PM
Hooked on HuntingPa
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Long Island NY
Posts: 372
Back To Top
Re: South East Virginia Hunt / Review

Always enjoy reading about your hunts. You seem to give fair, honest assessments and I would love to go with you one day since we seem to share the same theory and style.

Thanks again

sab

Sab, yup thats my name...
cwa1104sab is offline  
post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-20-2012, 12:53 PM Thread Starter
The Man
 
loridr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Pa, Dauphin co
Posts: 6,711
Back To Top
Re: South East Virginia Hunt / Review

Thanks sab, I try to call em as I see em.

As far as hunts go, the only thing on the books so far for 2013 is spring bear at Stonybrook in NB May 13-17, and Deerfield Oct. 13-18. I'm seriously considering booking Southampton for the opening week of shotgun third week of Nov. if Mark still has an opening at the HBG show. I'll keep you in the loop.

BTW, my buddy John (HPA screen name JM59) is up your way in North Jersey, not far from the Giants stadium. You might give him a holler, he's a good guy and a shooter, likes to talk firearms.
loridr is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 09:41 AM
Sage
 
Loggy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: York Co.(Hunt Sullivan Co)
Posts: 21,870
Back To Top
Re: South East Virginia Hunt / Review

Good outfitter report loridr!!

Your 2013 ain't shaping up too bad so far! The Spring bear hunt sounds like a lot of fun!! My Dad killed 4 bear on Quebec spring hunts near Maniwalki/Gracefield areas. I was with him but was only fishing at outfitters lake then not hunting. I was under 16 then & too young to hunt bear..per Dad! lol A Canadian or ME bear hunt is certainly something I plan to do.

NRA Life Member
PFSC Life Member
CBF Member
Loggy is offline  
post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
The Man
 
loridr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Pa, Dauphin co
Posts: 6,711
Back To Top
Re: South East Virginia Hunt / Review

Loggy,

We must live in a parallel universe, many of your posts bring back memories for me.

Back in the spring of 1968 when I was 16, my best friend and I went on a fishing/bear hunting trip above Maniwaki Quebec at O'Sullivan Lake. We had saved up our money working part-time jobs and booked the trip at the Hbg show. We had just gotten our drivers licenses and took my Mom's 1965 Falcon wagon and drove up there; at that time there was no hard road above Maniwaki and we had to drive a 100 mile two track dirt road to get to the lodge, ended up blowing out all 4 shocks on the Falcon by the time the trip was over, it was quite the adventure for a couple of kids!

We caught a lot of fish and saw quite a few moose around the lake. They had assigned us an old indian guide who couldn't walk too well so our bear hunting was done from a boat along the shore. My buddy fell in "love" with the owners daughter and ended up spending the evenings chasing her around (LOL) so I had the bear hunting to myself. Harry (the guide) and I were on a bear all week that was alternately coming in to a bait site Harry had put out and a shore lunch spot about a quarter mile down the lake. That darn bear had us figured out; if we'd be at the bait, he'd be at the lunch spot, and visa verse.

I guess in today's world we would have never gotten across the border, two 16YO kids with firearms; times sure have changed.
loridr is offline  
post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 03:56 PM
Sage
 
Loggy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: York Co.(Hunt Sullivan Co)
Posts: 21,870
Back To Top
Re: South East Virginia Hunt / Review

Quote:
Originally Posted by loridr
Loggy,

We must live in a parallel universe, many of your posts bring back memories for me.

Back in the spring of 1968 when I was 16, my best friend and I went on a fishing/bear hunting trip above Maniwaki Quebec at O'Sullivan Lake. We had saved up our money working part-time jobs and booked the trip at the Hbg show. We had just gotten our drivers licenses and took my Mom's 1965 Falcon wagon and drove up there; at that time there was no hard road above Maniwaki and we had to drive a 100 mile two track dirt road to get to the lodge, ended up blowing out all 4 shocks on the Falcon by the time the trip was over, it was quite the adventure for a couple of kids!

We caught a lot of fish and saw quite a few moose around the lake. They had assigned us an old indian guide who couldn't walk too well so our bear hunting was done from a boat along the shore. My buddy fell in "love" with the owners daughter and ended up spending the evenings chasing her around (LOL) so I had the bear hunting to myself. Harry (the guide) and I were on a bear all week that was alternately coming in to a bait site Harry had put out and a shore lunch spot about a quarter mile down the lake. That darn bear had us figured out; if we'd be at the bait, he'd be at the lunch spot, and visa verse.

I guess in today's world we would have never gotten across the border, two 16YO kids with firearms; times sure have changed.

Must be our older/wiser generation or sumpin!

We stayed at Mere Blu Laq(Lake) not too far from Gracefield. Guides was Jocko & Jerry LaBelle. Not sure if they still have a business..if yes likely run by their kids. You got a small cabin which included a boat.

BTW...my first car was a 1960 Ford Falcon!

NRA Life Member
PFSC Life Member
CBF Member
Loggy is offline  
post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 12-24-2012, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
The Man
 
loridr's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Pa, Dauphin co
Posts: 6,711
Back To Top
Re: South East Virginia Hunt / Review

Loggy,

I absolutely DESTROYED that Falcon at forestry school in Williamsport (1971-72) between off-roading on the two tracks and racing my buddies thru the old dump behind the old wire factory. Finally hit TWO deer with it on Rt87 above Montoursville and RIP'd it for good.

Check out the 80's 90's thread in Big Game, I put some old Sully pics up.
loridr is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome