Straddling the border of Georgia and Florida are 300,000 acres of pristine pines and rolling, grassy hills. Hunting parties traverse the grounds, accompanied by mule-drawn, 100-year-old wagons, trained dogs, and staff on horseback in search of wild bobwhite quail. Plantation homes sit at the end of long driveways, invisible to passersby.
The region is called the Red Hills, an area designated one of America's "Last Great Places" by the Nature Conservancy. Plantation owners want to keep the wide-open spaces undeveloped, partly to preserve quail habitats for hunting, but largely to act as stewards of the land and homes that have been in their families for generations.
"We want to make the world safe for bobwhite quail," says Charles Chapin III, a retired banker who lives in Oldwick, N.J., and spends four months a year on the quail-hunting plantation in Thomasville, Ga., developed by his grandfather at the turn of the century. [read more]