There is bird hunting, and then there is quail hunting. It’s a fine way to spend the afternoon, provided that you’re not the quail. Once a year with clients, friends, family and collaborators, we set out searching for quail in the tall grass in Goochland County, Virginia. It was the third year that we hosted the hunt and after party at the Orapax Hunting Preserve.
Leaving shortly before noon, we set out in groups of three and four with a hunting guide and a couple of well-trained bird dogs that inevitably do most of the heavy lifting. The bird dogs track the quail, the guides flush the birds out from their cover, and the hunters, well, hunt. Sure, the actual hunting is great and Orapax provides an incredible hunting experience, but the real value is found in the friendships that form while spending time out there together following inexhaustible dogs through the tall grass.
Following the afternoon of hunting, we came back to the clubhouse where the welcome gathering was already in full gear. Hunters and guests shared stories over the backing of folk-music duo Josh Small and Andrew Alli. Three of our favorite bartenders, Max Sayer and James Kohler of Saison and Brandon Peck of The Roosevelt were on hand to mix and serve up specialty cocktails. Drinks such as “The Woodsman,” which included scotch, Maraschino, Sherry, orange bitters and a twist of lemon were instant crowd pleasers. We were also honored to have Hardywood Park Craft Brewery create a custom brew, the Pecan Smoked Field Beer, for the event. We couldn’t have had a Quail Hunt gathering without the quail, so we asked chef Owen Lane of The Magpie to prepare the quail and craft a seasonally inspired menu fit for the gathering.
Later in the evening, we were treated to a high-energy set from Sleepwalkers. These guys are making some awesome music. Make sure you tip your hat to us for putting them on your radar when these guys become a household name.
At the end of the day, this event was a true celebration of bringing folks together. As the sun went down and the party continued by the bonfire, we were reminded that there are a lot of great people out there that make Ledbury possible. We should strive to bring them together as often as we can. We weren’t the only ones feeling moved by the setting. We’d like to extend an enthusiastic congratulations to our friends Johnny and Molly on their engagement, which happened at the event. Cheers, guys!
We’re looking forward to another Hunt / Gather in 2015.
All photographs appear courtesy of Kate Magee Photography