Quail hunting season started months ago, but Friday was opening day for Dave and Jamie Massey.
The owners of Sporting Traditions opened the gates to Cedar Gate Plantation in Winfield to quail hunters.
"We're excited," Jamie Massey said. "It's fun. It's gorgeous."
The couple, both experienced in outdoors hospitality, operate a big-game hunting ranch and luxury hunting, fishing and corporate retreat in Montana. They recently closed the quail hunting plantation they operated outside Brunswick, Ga., and relocated to about 300 acres in Winfield.
"Most of our clientele comes out of Atlanta," Dave Massey said, but he'd love to see local residents enjoy the plantation.
Ben Austin, 15, got a preview of the preserve last month as a Christmas gift from his family.
"It was awesome," said the teen, still excited after his first quail hunt.
The Masseys don't just offer the land to hunt on. They also have guided tours with pointing and flushing dogs.
"We sell the experience," Jamie Massey said. "And that is what keeps us separate from so many of the plantations in Georgia. You can go anywhere and shoot birds."
The tours can be completed with lodging at the Keg Creek lake house, meals at the plantation's pond house, and striper fishing tours on Thurmond Lake.
Dave Massey is a Waynesboro, Ga., native who started hunting and fishing at an early age. He used his Coast Guard-issued master captain license to charter fishing trips for Sea Island Co., near Brunswick, Ga., where he met his wife.
Jamie Massey grew up on a Big Sky, Mont., ranch where her family raised horses and held hospitality events, including hiking trips into nearby Yellowstone National Park, big game hunts and fishing trips.
The couple turned a shared passion for the outdoors into a business.
"We love it," Massey said. "Our motto is we make work our play and we play all the time."
The Masseys split their time between the Montana ranch and their Georgia plantation. They will lead quail hunting tours through March 31 before returning to Montana for the summer and fall.
Through their eight years organizing and leading entertainment packages for outdoorsmen, Massey said they've led first-time hunters of all ages. But it is young people, like Ben, who are really fun.
"There is nothing like the young guys," Massey said. "When you see their eyes light up, they are not embarrassed."
Sporting Traditions offers custom hunting packages -- as much or as little as their guests would like or need for their quail hunting retreat. Guests can bring their own guns and hunting gear.
"But if they don't have any of that, we can supply every bit of it," Massey said. "We can take it from A to Z or anywhere in between."
Only one hunting party is scheduled on the plantation at a time.
"We do exclusive groups," Massey said. "In other words, when these gentlemen (Ben Austin, his father and grandfather) are here today, we don't have anyone else on the property. Nobody else hunting. Nobody doing anything.
"We feel like that is the best experience."
For information about packages or to schedule a hunting retreat, call Massey at (478) 299-1723, Mrs. Massey at (478) 299-2791 or visit www.sportingtraditions.us.
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