When the opportunity came up to join the HuntStand and NWTF crew for a few days of chasing turkeys in Georgia, I was all in. What sweetened the pot even more was that we’d be hunting the CharLane. The CharLane is a forestland and shooting preserve owned by Chuck Leavell, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, as well as others, like the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, and Miranda Lambert, just to name a few. While the main focus of the hunting efforts at the CharLane center around quail hunting, the farm is also home to its fair share of wild turkeys.
With the recent partnership between the NWTF and HuntStand, the camp proved to be the perfect opportunity to hear how the two are making moves to greater impact hunters from across the country.
“We are truly honored to welcome the NWTF as our newest corporate partner,” said Lanford Holloway, CEO of HuntStand’s parent company, Terrastride. “The NWTF is one of the most respected and effective conservation organizations in North America, a distinction earned through its tireless efforts over the past five decades that includes being the undisputed driving force behind wild turkey restoration. They’ve also made significant contributions to the conservation of all wildlife and the preservation of our hunting heritage, which makes them a perfect fit for HuntStand’s philosophy and core values.”
The partnership will provide a number of new opportunities for members including HuntStand Pro and Custom Map discounts and information throughout the year.
“Our partnership with HuntStand aligns perfectly with the NWTF’s desire to provide our members with the latest information and tools they need to be successful while hunting and managing wildlife,” said Natalia Daniels, national director of corporate relations and licensing for NWTF. “We are grateful for HuntStand’s support and excited to share NWTF’s mission with its large and rapidly growing user base, while providing added value to current NWTF members.”
Finding the Birds With HuntStand
With thousands of acres across the CharLane at our disposal, we spent the afternoon of our arrival trying to narrow things down for our first hunt the following morning. Walking into new terrain for the first time can be tough. However, the scouting game is made all the easier when using a hunting app like HuntStand. In fact, we were able to identify and drop pins on the hottest parts of the farm before we ever put boots on the ground. Food plots, roosting locations over swamps and river bottoms, as well as potential mid-day dusting and bugging hangouts were easily identified with time spent scrolling through the property via HuntStand.
With potential starting points marked up on our smartphones, we cruised through the farm to check some of the locations we had dropped pins on, as well as to confirm the best access for an early morning ambush on the local birds.
We were optimistic as we drove from spot to spot checking for any sign of the birds hanging out around the potential areas we had marked on HuntStand. We found food plots covered in tracks, dust bowls, feathers, and scat. All signs that turkeys had been hanging out in the area.
Later that evening, while dining on some of the finest country cooking you’ll find anywhere in the south, we made plans for where each hunter would start the day on the following morning.
I chose a plot that was bordered by a swamp. I figured it would be the ideal flydown location for any birds roosting over the water, or at least a first stop for any birds looking to feed and strut in the open plot.
Despite all our optimism, we were greeted with a brutally quiet morning as the day began to break on our first hunt. We were covering some of the finest ground around, but the birds we were doing battle with were silent. I had one lone hen fly down and come check things out at my setup, but that was it.
I was set up on one side of the farm, while Brian Murphy, of HuntStand, and Brian Godfrey, producer for NWTF, were a mile away on another part of the farm. The same proved true in their neck of the woods as well. Not a peep from the roost. It was a trend that would continue over the next couple days. Shut-mouthed gobblers make turkey hunting tough, but we’d soon find the answer to make things happen, despite the lack of gobbling we’d heard from the roost.
A Solid Plan B
As we cutt and called our way back to camp, Brian Murphy noticed gobbler tracks in the two-track on top of our tire tracks from earlier in the day. With fresh tracks on the ground, we knew there was a bird hanging out close by that had managed to fly under the radar all morning.
After a quick lunch back at the lodge, we put together a Plan B for the afternoon. I returned to the low country to try and strike a bird while the other guys worked the high ground. Murphy would make plans to revisit the food plot he had marked earlier in the day where we found the fresh gobbler tracks.
Shortly after slipping into the woods, I got a message from Murphy that he had found the gobbler and a hen as he slipped up the trail toward his afternoon hide. He let the birds leave the field before diving into a brush blind and setting up his camera gear. He let things settle down and then cranked out a couple yelps to let the gobbler know another hen was in the area.
The bird immediately fired back. However, Murphy’s hen talk got a second hen fired up and coming to his decoy as well. The excessive hen vocals was more than the gobbler could stand. He made his way back out of the timber and marched straight towards the decoy giving Murphy a close and personal shot, just 15 yards away.
The hunt was a priceless lesson in the value of a solid Plan B when the birds play hardball in the spring turkey woods.
Back in Camp with Chuck Leavell
If you’ve never heard the name, Chuck Leavell, you need to look him up. He’s easily one of best musicians to ever lay fingers to the keys. As previously mentioned, he’s played for the best of the best in the music industry over the last four decades. But even more fascinating is his passion for conservation. He has a unique story as one of the greatest pianists in rock ’n’ roll history, yet it does not overshadow his love for his family and conservation. You’ll see it everywhere you look at CharLane, the plantation that wears he and his wife’s name – Charles / Rose Lane.
The two have a love for planting trees, and maximizing the ground they call home for the benefit of family, friends, and the local wildlife.
The project was filmed in four countries with more than 80 interviews from artists with a combined 58 Grammy Awards. Chuck Leavell: The Tree Man is the cinematic documentary that shines a light on one of the greatest rock’n roll pianists and keyboardists over the last 40 years.
As stated above, beyond his musical influence, Leavell is also one of the biggest names in environmental forestry and was selected the National Tree Farmer of the Year in the United States. His commitment to the planet and his strong family ties are refreshing reminders to be kind and treat your neighbor with respect. As Leavell puts it, “If you cut a tree down, plant two for the next guy.”
Watch Leavell display his talent on the keys as we hung out in the lodge after the hunt in the video below…
Be sure to check out the CharLane Plantation and the variety of opportunities it offers, including hunts, conferences, retreats, and a look back at the rich history of this homeplace on the Georgia landscape.
See more at www.charlane.com.