The Hunt


Published:

"To have something as good as this, there’s divine intervention and there’s good people.”

When the pavement meets the dirt, you know you’re heading in the right direction. Tucked away, just 25 miles from Savannah in Midway, Georgia, sits a place that's sure to send you back in time. From humble beginnings to now, the transformation is mixed with blessings, hard work and passion. The creation is a southern hunting paradise that many profess is second to none.

On a breezy sunny November morning, John Imhoff, a Sea Island ophthalmologist, gears up for a hunt. Imhoff, a team of dogs and a hunting guide load up on a buggy designed for off-road travel. After a short drive, they arrive at their destination, a pristine quail habitat that combines unspoiled nature with the love of sport. Imhoff loads his 1928 Parker, a side-by-side 20-gauge shotgun.

On the first leg of the hunt, Imhoff’s three dogs and the experienced guide accompany him on one of the nine quail fields Dorchester Shooting Preserve maintains. English Setters, Will and Bill, are the point dogs and the English Cocker Spaniel, Bentley, is the flushing dog. What happens next is almost textbook. Will and Bill are let loose, their noses trained to pick up the scent of the bobwhites. When they locate a bird, their tails point up in the air, almost statuesque-like. It’s Bentley’s turn to do his job and with all his might, he runs in and flushes the bird up in the air. Imhoff, who’s steady in his stance, fires as the bird quickly flies away. Then you hear, “nice shot”, and see feathers, better known as Dorchester Snow, trickle down. It’s now quiet except for the tall pines rustling in the breeze. A few moments later, Bentley dutifully delivers the quail to Imhoff.

Imhoff affirms it’s not about how many birds he bags; rather, it’s about being outdoors and undertaking the mental challenges that go along with quail hunting. “I enjoy watching the dogs work. When you see how smart these dogs are and how man and dog communicate, it’s almost religious,” said Imhoff.

Walking nearly three miles on mowed paths, sometimes making their way through rugged brush and blue sedge grass, the hunt continues. While sometimes one or two birds fly up, there are several times that a covey ascends. The experience can be overwhelming, but in a good way. The beauty of it all appeases every human sense.

 

A Southern Quail Hunting Experience

While Dorchester offers duck, wild boar and Continental pheasant hunting, the preserve is known for its premier quail hunting experience. Dorchester gives hunters the best fast-flying birds possible and in early September, staff release thousands of birds to supplement its own wild bird population. Quail season runs from October through March and the preserve averages around 1,200 hunts each season.

Hunts are designed to accommodate two hunters per guide and each guide has years of hunting experience to ensure a successful hunt. Thomas Meadows is a three-year veteran guide at Dorchester. “I love being out in the woods and it’s really not work to me,” said Meadows. “I enjoy being with skilled hunters and I enjoy guiding those who don’t get to do this very often.”

At Dorchester, no matter if it’s your first visit, or your hundredth, you’re treated like family.

While guests are welcome to bring their own hunting dogs, Dorchester has a mix of 70 well-trained retrievers and pointers that accompany hunters. Watching the dogs not only will leave you in awe, their sheer beauty and agility can’t help but impress even those with an untrained eye. Tommy Hagan is a professional dog trainer who works the Dorchester dogs. You sense no hesitation when he tells you the dogs are some of the best around. “We train them to know they are part of a team,” said Hagan. “We enhance what their instinct levels are. They are not diverse dogs; they are trained to know their job and do that job well.”

 

Cali, Abigail  and Bentley

From Humble Beginnings

In 1999, Dorchester Shooting Preserve was founded by Chuck Gaskin and his father, Charlie, and centered around their love of hunting, fishing and fellowship. In the beginning, they leased a small piece of land, a few miles away from where Dorchester is now located, and had one bird dog. The goal was to design a members-only hunting club for the exclusive gentleman.

Fast forward 18 years later, and it’s safe to say that goal was exceeded tenfold. “We built this from nothing,” said Chuck Gaskin. “It took a lot of years of hard work and determination. I truly believe it’s blessed.”

Over the years, the Gaskin family converted a 5,000-acre pine plantation into a classic southern hunting experience, which in turn has been instrumental in the tremendous growth they’ve witnessed. No longer are just men allowed; Gaskin now employs 35 of some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet; and in 2008, a 10,000-square-foot lodge was constructed near the preserve’s entrance. When you step inside the lodge, striking shotguns line the walls, a fireplace adorns the great room, and you can smell the amazing aroma of whatever is cooking in the kitchen. You can hear laughter coming from the dining room as hunters take a break to enjoy Southern fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes, green beans and warm brownies.

 

A meal prepared at Dorchester. Chef Russell Keane and his wife Madison (right).

Sixty percent of Dorchester’s guests are members who regularly hunt on the preserve. In fact, membership is closed and currently a wait list is inked with names. You don’t have to be a member to hunt, though, anyone is welcome on a non-member basis. Traveling hunters come from all over the world to experience what the preserve has to offer. An average stay is around three days.

Blessed with success, Gaskin is still as humble as they come, making you feel welcome the moment he meets you. For a man who has created a hunter’s heaven, he hasn’t lost sight of what truly matters, which are the guests. “Anyone can build a pretty lodge and cook good food, but not everyone truly appreciates the fact that you’re here, every time you are here.”

At Dorchester, no matter if it’s your first visit, or your hundredth, you’re treated like family. For more info, go to huntdsp.com or call 912-884-6999.

To read the full article, subscribe now or pick up the January/February issue of South Magazine.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

South's Greatest Photographers 2018

We're looking for the greatest, most creative photographers. If that is you, or you know of any, don't hesitate to nominate!

South's Greatest Kids Contest 2017

When it comes to cute, the kids of the South are all way above average! Share the cuteness and nominate your kids today.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • #art912, Avanguardia

    Nov 17, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Avanguardia, an exhibition by Savannah-based artist Lisa D. Watson (American, b. 1967), explores the encroachment of the constructed environment on...

  • Scenic Impressions: Southern Interpretations from the Johnson Collection

    Oct 13, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Academy

    When the world gets urban, the South gets Southern. That’s one way to sum up Scenic Impressions: Southern Paintings from the Johnson Collection,...

  • PULSE Art + Technology Festival 2018

    Jan 17, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Comprised of innovative digital artworks, projection performances, and engaging family programs, the 12th annual PULSE Art + Technology Festival...

  • Kirk Varnedoe: In the Middle at the Modern

    Sep 22, 2017
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Can you have an art exhibition without any artworks? Is a curator an artist? Who or what decides an object’s value? Through the lens of an art...

  • The Candy Apple Happy Hour

    Jun 13, 2017
    3:00 PM @ The Candy Apple Cafe

    Repeats every day until Sun Jun 18 2017  11 am Cocktail Artist Series The restaurant will serve cocktails inspired by select Broadway...

  • Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah

    Jan 18, 2018
    7:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Trustees Theater

    Prepare to be inspired! Mountainfilm on Tour in Savannah returns for its 9th year [January 18-20, 2018]. We have an incredible line-up of...

  • Jacob Lawrence, Lines of Influence at SCAD Museum of Art

    Sep 07, 2017
    All Day @ SCAD Museum of Art

    Jacob Lawrence Lines of Influence Sept. 7, 2017 - Feb. 4, 2018 The SCAD Museum of Art and the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence...

  • Coastal WildScapes Beaches and Barrier Islands

    Jan 20, 2018
    9:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Richmond Hill City Center

    REGISTRATION 9 am Coffee and Snacks WELCOME 10 am COASTAL WILDSCAPES OF GEORGIA A GEOLOGIC PERSPECTIVE 10:10 am Clark Alexander BREAK 10:45 am...

  • "Beyond the Castle" Book Celebration

    Jan 20, 2018
    10:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ The Church Mouse

    Author, Jody Carbiener Dreyer will host a book celebration on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Church Mouse, 78 Arrow Road on...

  • PULSE Free Family Day and STEAM Expo

    Jan 20, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair’s most popular Family Day includes opportuni­ties to experience all of the 2018 PULSE exhibitions and experiment with technology...

  • “One of These Nights,” The Music of The Eagles

    Jan 20, 2018
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The Eagles are arguably the quintessential American band combining influences of both rock and country into a unique sound that provided the...

  • PULSE Metropolis-Synthesis Screening/Performance

    Jan 21, 2018
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Atlanta-based artists Alessandro Imperato and David Spencer return to PULSE to perform a re-interpretation of Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents 'Good People'

    Nov 28, 2017
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ HHP Main Street Theatre

    Lean Ensemble Theater’s Production of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire.  Welcome to Southie, a Boston neighborhood where a night on the...

  • National Reading Day

    Jan 23, 2018
    1:00 PM - 2:00 PM @ Hancock Day School

    The Sandfly Women Business Owner’s Coalition will promote literacy efforts on National Reading Day, Tuesday, Jan. 23, by spending time at Hancock...

  • Chocolate Bar Your Way Class

    Jun 14, 2017
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Sweet Pete's Candy

    4 pm sweetpetescandy.com Learn the art of old fashioned candy making in one of Sweet Pete’s Candy’s most popular classes. Sweet...

  • Daughters of the Dust Film Screening

    Jan 25, 2018
    6:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Julie Dash’s dreamy, visually-striking film, the first wide-release feature by a female African American director, tells the story of the Peazant...

  • American Traditions Vocal Competition Educational Outreach Concert

    Jan 25, 2018
    7:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Skidaway Island UMC

    Join the American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) as they celebrate their first week of educating students in the Savannah-Chatham County Public...

  • Anything Flows Yoga Class

    Jun 15, 2017
    7:00 PM @ Dragon Dance Yoga

    7 pm Anything Flows Yoga Class Walk in rate: $14 Dragon Dance Yoga This class will take you beyond your comfort zone while still...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents 'Good People'

    Jan 25, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:30 PM @ HHP Main Street Theatre

    Lean Ensemble Theater’s Production of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire.  Welcome to Southie, a Boston neighborhood where a night on the...

  • Carrie Mae Weems: Sea Islands Series, 1991-1992

    Jan 26, 2018
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Considered one of the most influential contemporary artists, Carrie Mae Weems (American, b. 1953) has continued to explore the African American...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

Jazz'd Tapas Bar NYE

Make sure to check out these scenes from the Studio 54 NYE party at Jazz'd Tapas Bar!

Ho Ho Holiday Oyster Roast

Ele & The Chef hosted their 1st annual Ho Ho Holiday Oyster Roast at Current Kitchen & Cocktails on December 17th. All ticket sales benefitted Aiden Cares, an awareness intiitive that encourages giving and serving.

A prevention event by RCC - Step Up and Step In to Stop Bullying

This annual 8k run was held on December 16th at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, and all proceeds for the event benefited the Rape Crisis Center.

Oyster Roast for a Reason

Check out these photos from the UGA Marine Extension and Georiga Sea Grant Oyster Roast for a Reason. Presented by Oyster South, a regional non-profit organization, the Oyster Roast for a Reason is a fundraising event that celebrates Georgia's first oyster hatchery and helps continue the University of Georgia's efforts to bring the oyster farming industry back to the Georgia coast.

Lip Syncing with Ghost Coast

One epic battle took place on Halloween night, and it all went down at Ghost Coast Distillery in Savannah. Visitors wore their funniest (and scariest!) costumes for the 2017 Halloween event. Many donned costumes that portrayed the singer they would be on stage during the lip sync battle.

Savannah Children's Book Festival 2017

This Saturday brought thousands of visitors to Forsyth Park for the annual Savannah Children's Book Festival. Hosted by the Live Oak Public Libraries, the day-long event showcased the talents of eleven featured authors and thirty-nine indie authors, illustrators, and performing artists from around the country. This year’s festival includes book signings and readings, arts and crafts, community partners and nonprofit organizations, as well as food.

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé!

Thursday night was the night to celebrate Beaujolais Nouveau Day at 39 Rue De Jean in Savannah! The arrival of Beaujolais Nouveau symbolizes the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine. Attendees enjoyed heavy hors d’oeuvres, an oyster roast outside on the patio, and Henry Fessy Beaujolais Nouveau.

Taste of Savannah Food and Wine Festival 2017

This signature, festival event was a huge hit at its new location, the Georgia State Railroad Museum! Guests wandered the grounds savoring hundreds of wines, spirits, craft beers and more.

13 Secrets Jewelry One-Year Anniversary

Boutique owners Chad and Manu celebrated the one-year anniversary of 13 Secrets Thursday, Nov. 9. Event highlights included gourmet appetizers by local chefs, a wine tasting, door prizes and great networking opportunities! Here's to another great year!

Celebrity Chef Dinner

A night featuring dishes by some of the South's best, James Beard Awarded, Chef's of 2017. The night included multiple courses, each paired with the perfect wine to complement the flavors. Simply put - a dinner one will not soon forget!