Tim Jones, Editor
My long-suffering wife has never shown the slightest inclination to join me on any of my hunting expeditions, which usually feature tents or wilderness cabins in cold weather. But my deer season hadn’t gone as planned, my freezer was empty, and we were scheduled for a pre-Christmas visit to see her relatives in Roanoke, Virginia.
My original thought was to leave my wife with the relatives and go hunting, but when I discovered Primland (866-960-7746; https://primland.com), plans suddenly changed. She enjoys pampering and the posh lodge and spa seemed perfect. Primland is in southern Virginia, on the North Carolina border, east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We booked a two-night stay, which would allow me two evenings and two mornings of deer hunting and an afternoon of bird hunting over dogs.
My wife’s reaction to the lodge when we arrived was: “Can we live here?” It’s set on high, at the top of a hill with the Blue Ridge Mountains rolling away in all directions. After an excellent pub-style lunch, she settled into a big, comfy chair with a spectacular view and happily read the afternoon away while I went hunting. Primland offers pickups from several local airports and an on-property shuttle service, but I drove myself to the outdoor center, where all shooting sports are based. Once there, I purchased my VA deer hunting license ($86 plus $23 for a preserve shooting license for the bird hunt) and checked the sights on my rifle. I asked for and was given a tour of the 8,000 unfenced acres they hunt and was then taken to an elevated blind over a well-maintained food plot for the evening hunt. This would be an easy hunt for anyone with physical challenges.
It was early Dec., well after the rut. A strong cold front was moving through with bitter winds, and I appreciated the snug blind. After a quiet hour, two yearling does appeared in the food plot below me and fed undisturbed. Part of my view was across a valley to another food plot about a half mile away. Six deer appeared there. With 10x binoculars, it was easy to see that one carried a rack that spread beyond his ears, but he was too far away to count points. I drove back to the lodge in the dark through a blinding snow storm. Dinner that night in the main dining room was nothing short of spectacular.
The next morning, I was in another blind (chosen for its sheltered location) an hour before daylight. It was 11 degrees outside and the wind was howling. I lasted until 11 am, seeing only the disappearing tail end of a large deer far down in a wooded gully.
That afternoon the weather moderated, and I enjoyed two hours of the best pheasant shooting I have ever experienced (I used to guide on a high-end preserve). The two pointers we hunted behind were excellent. Some of the birds had just been released, but honestly, we could have had a memorable afternoon shooting the birds remaining from previous hunts and driven bird shoots. There were pheasants everywhere. The owners of Primland also offer driven bird shooting in France and at the Downton Estate in England (yes, that Downton). They know how to do it right.
That evening I was back in the blind overlooking the food plot where I’d seen the buck the previous evening. Only four deer came to feed—a mature doe, two yearlings and a fawn. I watched them for an hour hoping the buck would show. I’m primarily a meat hunter and when I booked the hunt, I specifically asked for and had been given permission to take a doe on a management tag. With the sun setting behind a ridge, I dropped the 130-pound doe at 70 yards. I called in on the radio, and a few minutes later, the guide was there to pick up the deer and me.
At the meat shed the guides quickly and efficiently boned out the doe and vacuum packaged the meat for transport home. Virginia is a chronic wasting disease (CWD) state and even though there has been no CWD near Primland, I could cross state lines only with boneless meat. My pheasants from earlier in the day had been cleaned and frozen. Back at the lodge, I found my wife completely relaxed after an afternoon at the spa, where she enjoyed a hot stone massage, and we enjoyed a pub dinner.
All in all, it was exactly the experience I wanted—my wife was especially happy with the amenities while I enjoyed every minute of the hunting. I wouldn’t go to Primland looking for a real trophy, though some of the mounted heads I saw would look good on any wall. The bucks there were hit hard by EHD a few years ago but are now rebounding. The next few years should produce more wall-hangers. But, trophy or not, what you get is a relaxing, easy access, well-managed hunt with spouse-pleasing accommodations. Our two-day stay at Primland cost roughly $2,400 for two, including hunting, spa, excellent meals and tips. Deer hunting was $500 per day, bird hunting, $400. I’m trying to convince my wife to visit her relatives in the spring around turkey season.