Summer seems to be hanging on in southern Pennsylvania, and the hills of the Blue Ridge are still lush and green. It’s been a wet and heavy late season, and despite the arrival of October, the afternoons are still given to porch-sitting and iced tea. For some, however, time is of the essence; the rolling corps of workers at Orvis Hill Country–in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania–have been at it from dawn to dusk, clearing brush and cleaning buildings and shoring up a long-neglected sporting-clays course. With a soft opening slated for November 3, all hands are on deck to ensure that Orvis Hill Country showcases an experience worthy of the Orvis name.
Upgrades, improvements, and a healthy dose of construction have filled the last month. The numerous buildings that existed on the property have been hoed out and organized, revealing the bones of a truly impressive property. Under the watchful eye of Orvis Sandanona Senior Manager Peggy Long, the main lodge building has been scoured and emptied of its contents. In the coming weeks, a thorough overhaul will see this space converted into a Pro Shop, Gun Room, and lounge space wherein guests can both shop for shooting/hunting gear and re-visit their conquests on the clays course. The main entry and parking area leading up to the lodge have been re-cut and graded, and the clean lines of an artfully-landscaped space feel fresh and intentional. Atop the hill, the big tractor barn has been a staging point for both equipment repair and construction. Indeed, this space has been a hive of activity, as a pile of lumber and lattice is reduced to the 15 new station cages that will soon be placed on the course.
At well over 500 fenced acres, Hill Country represents an imposing, and exciting, blank canvas upon which to build a world-class hunting and shooting facility. Fortunately, much of the required infrastructure was in place during the previous ownership: bird fields, bird pens, kennels, and the skeleton of a clays course remain, though all are getting a thorough upgrade. The clays course in particular received attention from Andrew Johnson and the Sandanona crew, and it should provide an artistic and challenging range of presentations. Some 27 new MEC electronic traps and 15 new manual traps will be added to complement the existing traps on-site, and even at first blush, the 15-station course promises to be something to travel for. A 5-Stand and instruction area are underway and will be ready for the soft opening, and the barns are stuffed to the gills with targets and ammo. It will be a pleasure to once more hear the wooded dales of Hill Country come alive with the reports of double guns and the smell of cordite. Gunners of all levels should be more than satisfied with the offering.
Though the weeks to come will be filled to bursting, a clear goal is in sight. On November 3, when the gates of Orvis Hill Country officially open, we intend to surprise and delight a wave of friends, guests, and customers. As it rises from the brush and tangle, Hill Country shines with untold potential. It will be our pleasure showcase this place and this offering to a wider public, and to make world-class shooting available to the mid-Atlantic and beyond.