Brothers make most of farming’s slumpPublished 12:00am Thursday, July 3, 2008
Mark Pope and his two brothers, Chris and Jeffrey, came up with the idea to start a hunting lodge when they had to find a supplement to farming because the peanut quota system was eliminated and profits from peanut farming slackened.
The hunting lodge, located on Cedar View Road between Drewryville and Capron, sits amid 5,000 acres of land.
Pope said the farm was started by his great-grandfather and was originally used for farming peanuts and cotton.
&uot;We decided to use our resources,&uot; Pope said.
Although the brothers still grow peanuts and cotton on the land, now the land is also used as hunting grounds for Southampton Outfitters, the company started by the three brothers in 2001.
Previously, the Indiantown Hunt Club had free use of the land.
Southampton Outfitters offers deer, waterfowl, dove and turkey hunts in three-day and six-day increments. Fishing is also offered as a recreational activity for those staying at the lodge.
Pope said most of the hunters come from the Northeast—Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland.
&uot;They love this area,&uot; he said.
The hunters hear about Southampton Outfitters from its Web site, the two hunting Web sites the company advertises on and a nine-day outdoor show where the brothers set up a booth.
&uot;Repeat business is big,too,&uot; he said.
Pope estimated that between 70 and 80 hunters come every year, and that this year he has seen an increase of 10-15 percent. Most of those, between 65 and 70, are for deer hunting. The rest are for turkey hunts.
The prices for deer hunts range between $850 and $1,950, depending on the length of time, and most are successful, Pope said.
The biggest deer that has been killed through Southampton Outfitters was killed on the property this year and was a 170 class, 11-point buck.
Turkey hunts range from $900 to $1,750 for different lengths and different number of turkeys.
This year the whole turkey season was booked, Pope said.
Dove hunting also draws a crowd. Between 40 and 50 hunters show up for the three dove hunts per year that the brothers conduct.
All hunters must come with their Virginia hunting license and their own guns and ammunition.
is from February until the end of the summer, because all hunts are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The prices of the hunting trips include lodging, transportation to the sites and meals cooked by Pope.
The meals, he said, include foods like steak, ribs and baked potatoes. They are also all you can eat.
More recently, the brothers have been branching out. Southampton Outfitters offers two trail rides per year, one in May and one in September. The turnout in May was around 85 riders, Pope said.
Riders, who were mainly from Virginia and North Carolina, brought their own horses and rode around the farm. They also had the opportunity to buy meals along the trail.
The brothers also started a peanut company in 2001 called Royal Oak Peanuts.