More Mississippians seem to be getting away from it all

by John Woods

Published: September 25,2006

It is a highly popular movement today for individuals and families to seek out a little isolated piece of rural real estate to establish their own weekend getaway camp. This has been going on in Mississippi for decades among outdoors enthusiasts as well looking to build their own hunting clubs complete with fishing lakes, campsites or even fully furnished first-class cabins and everything that goes with developing such sites carved out of the woodlands.

The whole concept of owning private land to build a little resort is now catching on with a lot of different types of family profiles. Mainly people are just looking for a way to get out of the city hustle and bustle by traveling a relatively short distance to a “place of their own.”

Such places offer all kinds of recreational opportunities from just swinging on the front porch and listening to the crickets chirp, horseback riding along old log road trails, riding ATVs or motocross bikes, hiking, bird watching, outdoor photography, picnics bonfires and so forth. Whatever one might do with such a place relaxation is always high on the list.

For some of these folks the goal is to find a turn-key site with all the infrastructures in place. Walk in, turn on the lights, and enjoy. For others, the enjoyment comes from starting literally at the ground level despite how rough it might be and create a wilderness haven of their own design a little at a time.

Like anything else in life, the more amenities one wants up front the more the initial cost is likely to be. For that reason, a great many of these modern day pioneers are willing to settle for land that needs a lot of work to get it into the condition they want, but acreage that is reasonable to purchase up front. Then they can take their own sweet time whipping it into shape. Regardless of the approach from the get-go, some ground work is likely to be needed
Land reclamation

Just when you think you have heard it all, something completely new comes along. At least it was new to me. I had never heard of the concept of forestry mowing until just last month when I ran across an interesting outdoor service company named Phelps Forestry. The company owned by Mike Phelps is based out of Madison, but conducts its forestry reclamation services over a wide area.

Phelps uses heavy duty equipment called a Posi-Track, which is a type of large front-end loader with a whirling tree grinder apparatus mounted on the front end. As this unit is driven through forested areas with under stories overgrown with years of brushy briars and other nasty stuff, it literally digests the vegetation into mulch making a clear pathway as it goes.

So, just imagine the value of the utility of a forestry service like this when a landowner wants to convert an unusable piece of land into a virtual open park like landscape.

The process of forestry mowing can be used to clear trees up to eight-inches in size as it pulverizes everything smaller along the way. It cuts close to the ground so it can be used to create new roads, ATV trails, open up new areas to fashion wildlife food plots, cut fire lanes or simply for thinning out sites to open them up. Doing this kind of work to a potential commercial site prepares them for sale as it enhances its value to a buyer. All this is win-win activity.

Value-added services

Besides providing the forestry mowing services, Phelps Forestry has also built a reputation for its hunting club services. Again, people buying private lands to establish hunting clubs is definitely a growth market. Many of these land buyers have plenty of money, but no clue how to assess a piece of land much less about how to turn raw land into a quality managed hunting property. Both land consultants and businesses able to perform this necessary work are in high demand.

Phelps categorizes its hunting club services in three areas of work. These include mapping services to provide a detailed layout of hunting property features such as primary and secondary roads, trails, food plots, boundary lines and hunting stand locations for example. Phelps can establish new food plots or prepare existing plots. They can perform soil testing, spread lime and fertilizer and conduct the planting activities. Phelps can also maintain and repair existing property roads or create brand new roads and trails throughout forested areas.

These are vital services for creating and maintaining hunting clubs. When one considers the initial outlay cost of owning equipment to perform these duties, then the cost effectiveness of hiring it done can be quickly realized.

Then add in operating costs and maintenance and it becomes a no-brainer. Also with time being a primary crunch factor these days, having someone else with the knowledge and equipment to get this work done really makes sense for a lot of people. Even in my own club with six owners, it is cheaper in the long run to hire this kind of work done every year.

If you have forested land that needs to be reclaimed or the desire to create a park out of your weekend getaway, give Phelps a call at (601) 421-0758 or e-mail mikephelps@jam.rr.com. As Mike says, “no job is too big or too small.”

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