The Brays Island Plantation, South Carolina, a rice plantation in the past, has become a beautiful residential community offering appealing choices for outdoor recreation. Sportsmen can enjoy freshwater and saltwater fishing, quail and dove shooting and golf.
There!” shouted my guide from his poling platform. “There! There! Two o’clock. Big fish! Fifteen pounds!”
The redfish’s tail peeked out among the spartina grass, 20 yards away. His nose was buried in the bottom, rooting for crabs. I hopped out of the flats boat and waded in, the reedy grass scratching my legs. I threw out a long loop and landed my shrimp fly about a foot short. I cast again and again, stalking the fish through the field. Twice the fly landed just in front of red’s nose, but the fish refused or didn’t see it.
There was no time to change flies. cast once more but didn’t gauge the sturdy wind. I liked him. Gone.
Damn. A good fish. But it was time to move on anyway. There was just time for a half-round of sporting clays before the dove shoots back at the plantation. Later, I would fish for large-mouths on the golf course, and the next day, I was going after tarpon. Maybe I’d take in another round of days or talk my way onto a treestand, as well.
Such is fife at Brays Island Plantation, near Sheldon, South Carolina. Stick and. move. Always something to do.
Originally an indigo and rice plantation dating back to the 18th century, Brays Island is an extraordinary new residential community devoted to the interests of the sportsman. Stashed inconspicuously among its 5,200 acres are 325 homesites; the land remaining is a mixture of dove fields, quail fields, woodlands, wetlands, bass ponds, quail and chukar rearing pens, an equestrian center, a shooting club, a Georgian-style manor house with guest rooms, dining and swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), tennis courts, an 18-hole Scottish-style golf links, bass boats, a dog kennel (dogs included), and a brackish river providing a direct link to the Atlantic’s Port Royal Sound.
Finally … I’ve met my first purchase after winning the Lotto.
But there’s more. Service for the residents is a high priority at Brays. A little like Club Med, you say? Well, if you want to go riding, a horse will be saddled. And if you have a free afternoon, you can choose from shooting, fishing, hunting, golf. The whole nine yards is but a phone call away.
Broken into parcels of agricultural land, wetlands, swamps, and forests, Brays has an ideal mix of wildlife habitat and vast edge cover. The hunting fields, wetlands, inland fisheries and wildlife preserves are carefully maintained and managed.
The marquee attraction here is the quail shooting. It’s a gentlemanly affair, and approximately 25,000 quail and chukar are raised for planted-bird hunts. Glides, horses, dogs and even mule-drawn carts are available, depending on how deep you want to wander into tradition. Dove shooting can be tremendous in several cut grain fields, and whitetails are everywhere, including some tremendous bucks. Plans to re-establish turkeys are also underway.
The kennels–well-constructed indoor/outdoor arrangements hold up to 30 dogs, many of which are the plantations. Residents can board dogs there for free, provided the quail guides are allowed to use them for hunts. What a way to keep a dog in shape!
The gun club has three small but clever sporting clays layouts, plus a manicured trap and skeet field. The gracious clubhouse has a vaulted great room, gun room, bar and patio deck.
The fishing is as bountiful as the shooting. Freshwater and brackish ponds dot the grounds and are filled primarily with largemouth bass. The saltwater fishing is world-class for red-fish, especially in winter, and at various times of the year, you can catch 100-pound-plus tarpon, as well as sea trout, stripers, flounder, jack crevalles, bluefish, cobia, shrimp, crabs and other delights. Guides with flats boats and deep-water vessels are also available.
Though all of the hunting and fishing opportunities are grand, a description of Bray’s wouldn’t be complete without mention of the feeling of Southern tradition that pervades all the magnificent live oaks, the Spanish moss and even the warm, heavy air that hangs over the low country.
OK, so what’s this little paradise cost? Here’s the deal. It’s a community, so you have to buy one of the circular one-acre lots to establish “residences.” Lots start at $170,000 (most of the cheapest ones are on the golf course) and go up to $525,000 (all of which had deepwater docks and are sold). But once a parcel of land is purchased, landowners have no time limit in which to build.
After purchase, yearly dues are $6,000, although an additional $3,000 must be spent pursuing Brays Island’s various activities, such as rounds of sporting clays ($20), golf ($20), guides, dogs and so on. You may have to play hard to make the minimum.
Legend says that when Dom Perignon first sipped the monastery’s bubbly, he looked up from his glass and said, “Brothers, I have tasted the stars.” Now I know what he meant.
Like fine champagne, Brays isn’t cheap. But tickets for the next Lotto are still available. The line starts behind me.