A Brief History of Redbone Farms Hunting Preserve
Redbone is located in what is now Lamar County, Georgia, but was previously part of Monroe County, Georgia, founded in 1821. Prior to the white settlers in Redbone, the area was inhabited by a tribe of Native Americans known as the Muscogee.
The Muscogee inhabiting Redbone had migrated east from the Chattahoochee River basin. They were in search of an area abounding in wild life. Among the abundance of wild life, the natives discovered there were a variety of squirrels that were about twice the size of the common grey squirrels. The multi-colored fox squirrel that now is so common in the Redbone Community is believed to be the squirrel that the Native Americans called Redbone Squirrels.
Newton Moye, Floyd Moye’s father, a farmer, state legislator, and long-time Director of the Georgia State Parks Department, was instrumental in forming a community conservation club in 1960 that was the forerunner of the Redbone Farms Hunting Preserve. Prior to the formation of the conservation club, none of the farms in the community had ever been posted, thus there was a big problem with poachers coming on private farms taking game, cutting cattle fences, dumping old kitchen appliances and other litter. The neighborhood farmers banding together, erecting posted signs and issuing special permits allowing their friends to hunt on each others’ property.
In 1965, Brian Whitehurst, the local Supervisor of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Soil conservation Service spearheaded a study of the Moye farm, suggesting several recreational enterprises that might be incorporated in the Moye’s farming operations. One such enterprise was that of a quail hunting preserve. Up to that time, there were very few hunting preserves in the State of Georgia. Newton, Floyd, and Floyd’s brother Alex, an Eastern Airline Captain, visited Cater Cox and his RiverView Plantation in deep south Georgia in an effort to learn about the business before plunging forward. It seemed that Newton Moye’s background of heading Georgia’s State Parks Department throughout Herman Talmadge’s tenure as Governor of the State of Georgia made him an excellent fit for the proposed enterprise. Thus, in October of 1965 Redbone Farms kicked off its first season as a commercial shooting preserve. That year, Redbone had its first organized dove shoot as well as its first paid quail hunt.
In November of 1965, Newton Moye’s wife had open heart surgery and was believed to be well on her way to recovery prior to suffering a stroke in late December. She died a short time thereafter. Thus, Newton Moye found himself living alone in his large farm house.
The old farm house, built in 1918 by Newton’s widowed mother, proved to be almost ideal as a lodge. Thus, in the early years of Redbone’s hunting operation, the Moyes offered lodging to its hunting guests. Guests came from almost every state in the union, but more came from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky than any other state. Many came twice a season typically to hunt quail two or three days at a time.
In 1971, Newton Moye married a widow, Elizabeth Cagle. Like his first marriage, his second marriage was a very good marriage also. Elizabeth’s cooking expertise was a boom to the lodging operation, but in time, Elizabeth grew weary of the quail hunters tracking mud into her den and asked her husband and Floyd to make other arrangements for the lodging operation. As it didn’t seem feasible to build a new lodge at the time, Redbone began to operate without a lodge. The Moye’s had hoped its many customers from out of state would continue to return to Redbone even though they could not stay on the farm and enjoy those great meals that they had come to so much appreciate. Staying at local motels and eating at local restaurants just wasn’t satisfactory.
After losing the bulk of the out of state business, the management of Redbone determined to carve out a niche in the upland wing hunting market. They decided to cater to a clientele within an easy driving distance of the farm and to professional people wanting to hunt just a day or a half-day at a time. The moderate fees charged for quail hunting and dove shoots at Redbone were such that hunting there was not restricted to the very affluent.
What success Redbone Farms has enjoyed has been based on a concerted effort to having and stocking the very strongest flight and weather conditioned birds possible, having knowledgeable and seasoned bird hunting guides, great bird dogs, and establishing and maintaining as fine of quail hunting terrain as can be found anywhere in the southeastern United States.
Redbone has pursued dove shooting with the same tenacity as it has quail hunting. The first few years, Redbone charged dove hunters by the day. Shoots would be scheduled throughout the five month dove season. Opening day would always bring out more hunters than could be comfortably accommodated with far fewer hunters on subsequent shoots. Invariably, there would be a poor shoot and many hunters would not return until the following season. Thus, we might have some good shorts after a poor one, but too few hunters would be there to enjoy late season shoots.
Many years ago, Redbone adopted a season pass only for its dove shoots. Response was excellent and that policy has been unchanged for over 35 years. Some hunters shooting currently at Redbone started back in the early seventies.
In the early years, all of Redbone’s shoots were held on Moye property, but in the early 1980s Redbone teamed up with the two biggest farmers in the area and now schedule shoots in their freshly harvested corn fields, millet fields cut for seed or hay, sunflower, or recently planted wheat fields.
Often times, Redbone’s dove shoots are conducted on three or four different fields in two different counties, but generally within a ten mile radius of Redbone’s barn headquarters.