Following the tour of Primos' facilities by the Outdoor Life and Field & Stream crew, we tooled an our over to near Belzoni, Miss., where Will Primos owns 3,000 acres of some of the most ideal whitetail habitat anybody could hope to hunt in the South. A former lodge operated primarily for duck hunters, Primos' retreat, now called Rivers Run, is surrounded by highway on one side and a former winding river on the three others. After seeing the place for the first time, one of the visitors in our group likened the place to Jurassic Park; and like the famed movie of an island inhabited by dinosaurs, this place was definitely home to some giants.
Day 1--First Glimpse of Paradise
Upon our arrival, Will and his staff at the lodge, husband and wife team Eric and Terri Skinner, quickly greeted us, helped us get our gear inside and got us ready to hit stands for the afternoon. All of us were bowhunting except for F&S Editor in Chief Sid Evans, who wanted to give the CVA muzzleloader he had used to topple a pronghorn earlier this fall another try.
Temperatures hung in the mid-70s, less than ideal deer hunting weather, and the mosquitoes made it clear off the bat that they would be doing much of the "successful" big game hunting that afternoon. My Thermacell was quickly put to use after I climbed into a high tree stand midway along a long food plot. My back was to a low area that Will was in the process of flooding for the upcoming duck season, which opened in just two days.
I didn't see any deer during the short hunt, but was entertained just the same as flight after flight of first mallards and then woodducks soared over my head to roost. I must have seen more than a thousand. We would have the chance to duck hunt come Saturday if we chose, though most of us admitted that we would probably rather keep after some of the properties big deer if given the choice. The flights of ducks had me already second guessing my decision.
Nothing was shot that first evening though several of the hunters did see deer, a couple nice bucks and plenty of does. What the trip to my stand did reveal though was an incredible glimpse at what vision, hard work and funds can do in transforming a piece of property into the ideal hunting landscape. Primos has owned the property for just three years, but already the abundant hardwoods punctuated with cleared roads, strategically located food plots, flooded swamps and large planted fields was yielding huge dividends in the size of bucks and number of ducks being spotted.
Temperatures were expected to plummet more than 40 degrees overnight, which we imagined would get the deer moving big time. We nearly drooled at the prospect. That night each hunter went to bed with the excited feeling of a child on Christmas Eve.
Little did we fully realize how exciting the next day was about to become.
Check back later for my account on the second day of our hunt.
Photos: (Top l to r) Will Primos, Eric Skinner and F&S writer Bill Heavey plan a hunt at Rivers Run Lodge, while (bottom l to r) Primos' T.J. Williams, and Time 4 Media's Greg Gatto and Eric Zinczenko discuss their own hopes around the fire.