Archive Contents

Chris Wilson and friends serious about 3,000 acre hunting preserve
by Roland Roberts

Chris Wilson of Ariton has hunted with the Strickland and Green families in northwestern Barbour County for 20+ years. During that time, he states, “We’ve all become very good friends. About 15 years ago, a hometown friend, Jim Head, bought 400 acres along the Pea River to hunt on, over a mile away from their regular hunting land. He, other friends and I leased another 850 acres that adjoined his 400 acres from Meade Paper Company.”

Then a 650 acre parcel adjoining the 850 acre tract, which is owned by Mrs. Sydney Bagwell, became available for leasing. Wilson states, “Mrs. Bagwell is a very kind, sweet and understanding landowner who is 

Click to enlarge
Chris Wilson (left) tells Jimmy Peters of Dale Farmers Co-op that he is in the process of converting leased land food plots into “year-round plots.”
a pleasure to work with. Without her property, what we have could not be managed since hers lies in the middle of our other lands.”
Click to enlarge
Chris likes the fact that these gravity-fed feeders are nearly varmit and spoilage proof, so he can feed Co-op pelletized deer food.

Another piece missing from the puzzle adjoined Mrs. Bagwell near the middle of the 3000+ acres owned and leased hunting preserve. “In November 1996, I asked the owners of this land to lease it to my friends and me,” Wilson explains. “They said that they had rather sell the land and I bought it. These purchases and leases, along with the 1000+ acres owned by the Strickland and Green families, completed a contiguous tract of land we needed to manage our properties for hunting and recreation.”

With the puzzle intact, the property Wilson purchased was ready for serious management and improvement. This allowed the group to choose road and food plot locations. Wilson relates, “Working with the FSA (Farm Service Agency) and the USDA Forestry Services in Clayton, we implemented a 

‘Treasure Forest’ plan in 1999. This plan included the selection of areas to be reforested and those where food plots would be planted, as well as a fifteen acre pond.”

In 2001, FSA approved and assisted in W.H.I.P. (Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program) which promoted the construction of a duck pond and permanent wildlife plantings on roadsides and under power lines consisting of oak trees, partridge peas, clovers and other legumes. 

In 2002, they planted 28 acres of pines and four acres of hardwood in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program). In 2003, these men applied for and got approval to plant around 30 more acres of CRP pines to complete their reforestation program.

They plant 30+ acres of row crop land each year in corn, soybeans and wheat, mostly for their own use, for cattle raised in Ariton. Some of the corn and wheat is sold if not used.

On the leased lands there are approximately 20 food plots in addition to plantings along roadsides and under power lines. The plots vary in size from a quarter to one acre for a total of 20 acres of plots. Wilson says, “We are in the process of converting the leased land plots into ‘year-round’ plots. We feel this is necessary to provide the needed protein and nutrients, as well as making deer more comfortable using the plots.”

“Year-round” food plots are primarily planted for game. Depending on the plot size, if large enough, corn is rotated along with various high protein plantings to include clovers, chickory, rape, alfalfa or alyce clover, mixed or alone depending on soil type. Iron and clay peas and Aeshenomene (American joint vetch) supply the late spring through fall nutrition needed for deer. Chufa for turkey, partridge peas for quail and various millets for dove round out the game food plots.

Supplemental feeding of soybeans for deer had been done for four years from February through November. Wilson states, “We started with uncovered troughs. This was too time consuming to maintain, and there was a great deal of spoilage. Then metal 55-gallon drums were used. There was still too much spoilage and waste from raccoons helping themselves to our feed; and we experienced some spoilage from the use of three by three foot boxes used to contain feed from the drums. So we have converted to wildlife feeders. Galvanized and elevated, these feeders are gravity fed with 1,500 pound capacities and have covered food pans that are nearly varmit and spoilage proof.

“This allows us to convert from soybeans to Co-op pelletized deer food or Co-op cattle creep feed.” Wilson continues, “The pellets have all the necessary minerals and the proper protein levels. The pellets are less expensive to feed because of the fact that deer don’t need to eat as much to get their required protein and minerals. This year we purchased around seven tons of pellets in bulk from Dale Farmers Cooperative in Ariton. The savings of bulk purchasing will pay for one feeder each year.

“We’re just now starting to see the results of ‘year-round’ food plots and supplemental feedings. The antler sizes are greatly increased and we’re able to carry more numbers of deer. Our thanks go out to Dale Farmers Co-op Manager Robert Peter and his staff for all their help and assistance. They are a big piece of the puzzle we’ve put together.”



Archive Contents


Date Last Updated January, 2006