We recently added a new endorsed hunting lodge in northeast Alabama called Dream Ranch. It’s located on a hill overlooking Lake Guntersville and that in itself is significant; I’ll tell you why in a minute. Dream Ranch is a family-owned operation and I called manager Austin Ainsworth to see what they have to offer. It was a bit more than I expected. While they offer great quail hunting, there are some unique opportunities there that make made it stand out for me.
Dream Ranch specializes in southern quail hunting on 2000 acres of great upland cover with open fields full of blue stem and mixed hardwoods and pine plantations. Hunting is done in stretch Jeeps with safari seats and dog boxes over English pointers, setters, and Britttanys, which along with Boykin spaniels are used as flushers. This is an early release operation with supplemental birds and a hunter can expect to encounter double-digit coveys on morning or afternoon hunts, and obviously more birds on a full day hunts. The upland wingshooting is excellent, but there is another aspect to Dream Ranch that got my attention, particularly as an avid duck hunter: The limited, but completely wild waterfowl hunting.
With Dream Ranch’s location near Lake Guntersville and the Tennessee River, there is a significant migration of ducks in the area. As well, Dream Ranch has six flooded grain fields that border the river. They hunt these fields in rotation. No field is hunted more than eight times over the season. Forty-eight hunts are allowed and the result is a well-managed, low-pressure wild resource that is hard to find at any lodge anywhere.
The other hidden gem here is Lake Guntersville itself, which is one of the top bass lakes in North America and home to a Bassmasters tournament every year. The quality of this fishery is undeniable (a quick look online of fishing sites for the lake produced some pretty ridiculous fish pictures). During the fall and early spring the fishing can be combined with the upland hunting for some great sport. Guests are paired with resident guides who spend all their time on the lake and know right where to go and what to use.
The lodge is a handsome log structure that holds eight well-appointed bedrooms with private baths and a full-time chef on the staff to offer excellent meals, which they call gourmet country dining. I consider “country” a code word for great southern food.
Sitting up in the northeast corner of Alabama, the location of the lodge is spectacular, overlooking the lake and Brown’s Valley in this sub-Appalachian hill country. It is perfect for corporate outings and with a group of eight or more, Dream Ranch will reserve the entire facility for a group.
Duck season is currently winding down, but there are a couple of hunts available at this writing. Quail hunting is available through March and in late February the bass fishing will start to get going again. March seems to be a good way to finish off the hunting season and get the fishing season up and running all in one visit.