Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017
By KD Reep
On the second day of fall, 13 women hoisted their hunting gear into a 16-passenger van to sit in a turned-over Arkansas sunflower field to shoot doves. Despite the 96-degree heat, all sported big smiles as they sat on buckets, waiting for the sun to descend and the doves start to move.
“I turned 50 this year,” said Lucy, one of the eager participants. “For our 17th wedding anniversary, my husband gave me a shotgun, and I gave him a guitar. There’s a country song in their somewhere.”
It was Lucy’s first hunt with Georgia Pelligrini, the purveyor and guide of Adventure Getaways. At 36, Georgia has built a brand around her mission of what she refers to as modern pioneering. A former investment banker and classically-trained chef, Georgia began pursuing hunting and fishing as a way “to feel more connected with my food.”
“For me, it’s about living a life close to the earth,” she said. “I grew up foraging, fishing and gardening, and I want to teach others what it is to get back to natural human instincts.”
In addition to Adventure Getaways, Georgia is a leadership speaker and the author of three books: Food Heroes, Girl Hunter and Modern Pioneering.
Georgia’s Adventure Getaways serve as “an antidote to technology.” For this first trip to Arkansas, the women-only contingent flew into Little Rock on a Thursday where they lodged at the Capital Hotel, the state’s finest triple-A, four-diamond hotel and one of the best hotels in the country as noted by U.S. News and World Reports. They then took a trolley tour of downtown Little Rock, watched as Georgia did a cooking demo, then savored a wild game dinner at South on Main, a restaurant and music venue backed by Hollywood power couple Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson.
SEE ALSO: Redefining the Boundaries of the Hunt
Friday, everyone caught, cleaned and ate either bream or catfish on a pond in Scott, Arkansas, which is just east of Little Rock. Afterward, they relaxed and enjoyed a dinner at Scott’s Marlsgate Plantation, a stately-columned Greek revival mansion shaded by ancient oaks and a pecan grove overlooking the waters of Bearskin Lake.
Saturday brought an early start at 5 a.m. when the first hunt took place in Seaton, Arkansas (or Seaton Dump, to the locals). Afterwards, the group watched as Georgia field-dressed a bird, saving the feathers to use in a jewelry-making demonstration later that day by Little Rock’s own Brandy Thomason McNair, owner and designer of Bella Vita Jewelry and Gifts. Brandy, much like Georgia, pursued her passion of handcrafting jewelry after working at a desk job.
After lunch and pie at Charlotte’s Eats and Sweets in nearby Keo, a country store in an old storefront so famous for its pies that it takes reservations on the weekends for lunch, the ladies unloaded at Steel Wings Club in Seaton and relaxed as guides from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission discussed the need for more outdoor sportswomen and men in the state.
After the afternoon hunt, the 13 loaded back into the van and headed to Little Rock for cocktails and dinner in the Capital Hotel’s wine cellar. Before leaving on Sunday for their homes from as far away as Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida and Texas (one participant was a local Arkansan), the women would meditate at Pinnacle Mountain before kayaking in the Little Maumelle River on the western edge of the city.
Pinnacle Mountain is a day-use park consisting of more than 2,300 acres dedicated to environmental education, outdoor recreation and preservation. It is Arkansas' first state park adjoining a major metropolitan area.
Surrounded by everything the Natural State has to offer in its capitol city, the adventurists set out making plans for their next excursion. In addition to multiple trips to Arkansas, Adventure Getaways has taken women to locations all over the continental U.S.
“The all-female aspect really appealed to me,” Lucy said. “I saw Georgia in a magazine in Austin then got her book, Girl Hunter. I wanted to go on her next trip and learned I’d just missed the one she had in Texas so I made sure I could make this one.”
Lucy explains that she grew up with her father taking her brothers hunting, but she never went.
“I’m not sure why that is,” she said. “But I’m glad there’s an opportunity to do something like this now.”
[Photo credits: 1) Mandy Shoptaw; 2) Spencer Griffith; 3) KD Reep]