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Wildlife Mississippi Magazine

Fall/Winter 2000

Tara Wildlife: Setting The Standard In Mississippi
by James L. Cummins and Leila C. Wynn

Tara Wildlife is one of this nation's premier private wildlife management areas. Tara's properties, which encompass 20,000 acres, are located along the Mississippi River 35 minutes northwest of Vicksburg in the Eagle Lake community. Tara Wildlife, or Tara as it commonly referred to, offers a wide range of outstanding hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing activities for even the most discriminating outdoor enthusiast.



This Pope and Young Buck, scoring 179 6/8 points, is one of the many whitetail deer taken at Tara. Photo by Tara Wildlife, Inc.

Tara may be best known for its bowhunting opportunities for trophy whitetail deer. Harvest records indicate over 200 Pope & Young bucks have been harvested from Tara's expanse of family-owned bottomland hardwood forests designated as "bowhunting only."

In addition to specializing in trophy whitetail bowhunts, Tara Wildlife, which was started in 1986 as Tara Hunt Club, a private lodge, offers turkey, duck and small game hunting and fishing. Canoeing, bird watching, wildlife tours and nature walks are also popular. Annual fishing memberships and day trips are available on Tara's many oxbow lakes and blue holes.

Tara: A Unique Management Philosophy
Tara, with its outstanding record in the field of fish and wildlife management, did not just happen. It needed a dedicated leader and staff to make Tara what is today.

Maggie Bryant, Tara's founder, formerly served as the chairperson of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. She was awarded the prestigious Chevron Conservation Award and the Governor's Award for Conservation in Mississippi. She lives in Virginia on a working horse and cattle farm.

Clarke Reed and James L. Cummins with Maggie Bryant, Tara's founder. Photo by Tara Wildlife, Inc.

Bryant's vision offers a blueprint for the preservation, restoration and enhancement of fish and wildlife, especially bottomland hardwoods.

Through its partnerships with many conservation organizations, Tara has been actively engaged in black bear restoration, attracting neotropical birds, protecting the Mississippi River, wildlife habitat and bald eagles, as well as wetlands management and the preservation and continuance of bottomland hardwood forests.

Tara Is Comprised Of Two Areas
Willow Point is comprised of two islands in the Mississippi River, each noted as a haven for considerable numbers of large whitetail deer. Willow Point North consists of 3,800 acres and accommodates 8 hunters. Willow Point South covers 6,500 acres and can easily accommodate up to 12 hunters. Tara Hunt Club totals over 5,500 acres and can accommodate up to 13 hunters.

As part of an intensive management plan of controlled harvest and supplemental food planting, Willow Point and Tara Hunt Club's outstanding habitat effectively carries a sizable and healthy herd. Live weights of up to 320 pounds have been recorded and bucks weighing in excess of 200 pounds are common. Since 1988 more than 200 Pope & Young (gross scores) deer have been harvested from Tara properties, with at least 77 of those taken during the 1999 through 2000 seasons. And the numbers are still climbing!

What Is Offered At Tara?
At Tara, four spacious lodges provide guests with all the amenities including airstrips. Top-of-the-line skeet and sporting clay ranges are on the premises. It is an ideal location for corporate retreats, complete with conference facilities. The new 5,700 square foot Herbert Bryant Conference Center offers a state-of-the art meeting place which is unsurpassed. Tara also hosts 3 nationally-acclaimed summer youth camp sessions annually. These camps are designed for boys and girls ages 9-17 and cover an impressive program itinerary including hunting safety certification and much more.

Tara also hosts 3 nationally-acclaimed summer youth camp sessions annually. Photo by Tara Wildlife, Inc.

Spring and summer months offer a wide range of outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing. Some participants bring cameras and bird books and make exciting nature discoveries.

Others experience Tara's diverse wildlife by canoe in the solitude of Halpino Lake or Forest Home Chute or bring their fishing rods and try their luck with a variety of native river species, including largemouth bass, bream, crappie, white bass and sea run striped bass. It's a place to play Huck Finn and dangle your toes in the river as you tight-line for catfish.

Deer hunts begin with Sunday afternoon for a six-day hunt or Sunday or Wednesday afternoon for a three day hunt. Guests hunt either three or six full days with an opportunity to harvest up to one deer per day. Hunters are allowed one buck per three-day hunt and two bucks per six-day hunt in addition to their harvest quota of does. Arrangements may be made for the harvest of additional bucks. Success rates for Tara's deer hunters have historically averaged well over 50% on a three-day hunt.

Turkey hunters are allowed two gobblers on a three-day hunt and one gobbler on a weekend hunt. Only long beards are taken, no jakes. A guide always accompanies each hunter, but the hunter may call his or her own birds.

Tara manages several distinct waterfowl properties which offer hunters a wide range of habitat choices and a plentiful supply of ducks. Morning hunts include guide, blind, decoys and game processing.

Tara hosts many different types of hunters, from the avid trophy hunter, to women and children, and even senior citizens over the age of 70. Non-hunters (spouses, photographers, etc.) are welcome. Overnight lodging and meals, in addition to morning hunts, are available for guests.

Tara's Facilities
Tara's facilities are spacious and comfortable. Large dining rooms, complete with TVs and telephones, are centers of activity. Game processing and storage facilities are provided. Amenities include maid service, security, practice ranges, meals, transportation on each property and guide service.

Meals are Southern home favorites. The morning hunt starts with a continental-style breakfast of sweet rolls, coffee and juice and ends with a hearty brunch such as eggs, bacon, sausage and grits following the morning hunt. A plentiful Southern-style dinner such as grilled wild game served following the afternoon hunt and before the evening game trailing begins.

Just What The Executive Ordered
According to Sidney Montgomery, marketing director for Tara, "Tara works hard to help business executives relax during corporate retreats. After working at a fast pace, getting in touch with nature gives you a new perspective. The atmosphere at Tara is great for that. In the evening, you can hear coyotes and towboats on the Mississippi River."

"About 40 groups of business teams from all over will stay at the retreat this year," Montgomery said. But guests aren't just from Mississippi.

The new Herbert Bryant Conference Center. Photo by Tara Wildlife, Inc.

"Juan Carlos Wasmosy, President of Paraguay, was a recent guest whose main concern was learning more about the conservation of wetlands," explained Montgomery. Tara's new Herbert Bryant Conference Center will certainly add to the satisfaction of our corporate guests.

"We have a lot of requests for corporate dove hunting," Montgomery continued. "Part of our philosophy is allowing people access to the outdoors that otherwise would not have the opportunity," he said. "That's why we work with children's groups so much, to allow a wide spectrum access to 20,000 acres."

To Contact Tara...
For more information on Tara's corporate meeting facilities, summer youth camps, wildlife/habitat management or other services, contact: Tara Wildlife, Inc. 6791 Eagle Lake Shore Road Vicksburg, Mississippi 39183. Their telephone number is (662)279-4261 and their fax number is (662)279-4227.

Tara Wildlife...more than just a world class hunting resort! A unique natural treasure and the philosophy that makes it work.


This article was written by James L. Cummins, Executive Director of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Leila Wynn, Treasurer of the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

 

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