The Sanctuary Lodge
Discover serenity ands world-class Hunting less than three hours from Nola
By: John Manion
Photography by: Kevin Barraco
Most people think of a “sanctuary” as a wildlife refuge where game animals can roam and predation is under control. Every hunter knows the impact pressure plays on animal’s routines; going nocturnal, being blind shy, or getting lock-jaw are all real symptoms of hunting pressure on the species hunters and fisherman chase. On the flip side, when that pressure is reduced it’s gonna be a good day in the woods or water. That’s what makes “Opening Day” (from snapper to duck season) the trip not to miss. So when Marsh and Bayou got an invite to check out The Sanctuary Lodge in Woodville, Mississippi we weren’t going to miss the opportunity. About a two and a half hour drive from the Northshore,
The Sanctuary Lodge is located in the hills of Woodville; which are pretty much “mountains” to anyone from South Louisiana. It’s nearly a thousand acres of high fence hardwoods ranging from high bluffs all the way down to lower lying bottomlands. And as the name implies, game animals are roaming and the hunting pressure is limited. The Sanctuary is not only home to trophy whitetail and hogs, but fallow deer, red-stag and even elk. There are over 30 acres of lakes stocked with bass, bream, sac au lait and blue cats; which can also offer waterfowl opportunities when the weather gets right.
When we arrived at the lodge, the first thing you can’t miss is the lodge’s location. It’s perched on a bluff overlooking miles of cypress bottom that runs all the way to the Mississippi river; a truly picturesque view. Lodge manager Petet Bosy greeted us with our choice of Seven Three Distilling spirts and gave us the nickel tour from the pool table to stocked bar to the stocked pond with feeders in the backyard. “Ms. Jean will be cooking for ya’ll, but help yourself to anything in kitchen in the meantime”, Peter said.
After showing us the rooms, Peter offered to take us for a drive around the miles of roads on the property. We loaded up in the raised suburban and headed out for a “ride in the country”. The terrain is as varied as the game we saw (and we saw plenty). The lower lying area had three lakes. The largest lake has fingers of flooded timber nicknamed “Stump Lagoon”; and you can bet that migrating waterfowl will find it the same oasis that hunters do.
On that side of the property, there’s an enormous food plot that’s probably larger than a square mile in total area. With John Denver digging on Pandora we rolled slowly along the outer edge of the plot. At first we notice a couple racked deer popped their heads up; then there were a few more; then a few more. Once the truck actually pulled into the plot, we realized that we had rolled up on a herd of deer; maybe 20 or more racked whitetail. This didn’t look like some kind of early season “bachelor group”, it looked more like an episode from National Geographic’s African Plain Animals series as a heard of racked whitetail pranced off into the woods.
As we continue with our “three-hour tour” we notice groups of fallow deer in several of the smaller food plots which are tucked away in the property’s interior. The fallow deer where amazingly curious. We pulled underneath a shooting house with a pair of fallow bucks grazing in plot. Both bucks stood at alert as we examined each other. One buck was a mature fallow with a tall broad rack and an almost bleached white coat. The other buck was younger, only a cow horn spike rack. Although the deer general had the same body size, the spike looked like a giant whitetail fawn with dozens of spots from its shoulders to its hind that popped against its brown coat.
It wasn’t until the engine started that the bucks decided they’d seen enough and moved off the plot into the cover.
Peter continued to show us other hunting set-ups from high rise shooting houses to discrete bow stands. We began weaving our way back to the main house when the truck abruptly stop, “Ya’ll hear that”, he asked?
We all looked around at each as if to say, “Hear what? The radio? What?”
“There, there it is again. You hear him?” Peter said concentrating. With everyone still and quite you could hear the faint calls of elk bugling in the distance. “The elk are starting to get going. The rut will be full on around here in October”, Peter informed. Back at the lodge, Ms. Jean already had steaks on the grill. While the final touches were being put together on the five course meal that awaited us; we took the opportunity to refresh our Seven Three cocktails and recap the afternoon’s sights. After making short work of the feast prepared for our group, we decide to give the ole’ card table a closer look. That worked out better from some than others.
But The Sanctuary Lodge is no gamble. It’s scheduled to open this month, during October. They are already set-up to accommodate groups of hunters for an event. But if you need to scratch that exotic itch, they’ve got you covered for your solo adventure. It’s a full service, upscale hunting opportunity with deluxe lodging, dinning, guided hunting/fishing, and game processing, which you’re gonna need by the way.
Get a look at the full operation on their website, bookthesanctuarylodge.com or give them a call at (504) 503-0421.