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The Conservation Community

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Large plots like this one can be found all over Ocmulgee Banks.
By Tracy Breen

-- If you are a serious hunter there is a good possibility that you own hunting land, lease hunting land or dream of doing one or the other. Finding 20, 40 or even 100 acres isn't very difficult, but coming up with the money to purchase it can be tough. 

Keeping bucks on small parcels of property can be a challenge. Finding the perfect piece of property that is small yet equipped with all of the requirements for maintaining a nice whitetail herd are slim to none. Deer need good bedding and feeding areas as well as plenty of places to roam.

Most hunters dream of having a large chunk of ground that can be hunted and managed for whitetails. I would like to have at least 1,000 acres - wouldn't that be nice? However, owning that much property requires a lot of cash; something most of us are a little short on.

In addition to being short on cash, most of us are also short on time. I know many hunters who own small tracts of land and have the best intentions to develop those into a prime hunting spot. They dream of planting food plots, having a little tractor to drive around on and hunting over those food plots every chance they get.

Unfortunately, finding the time to manage a piece of property can be time-consuming. Even though they dream of hunting regularly and maintaining the property, many hunters only visit their land a few times a year. 
 
Several years ago, OEI Properties of Georgia decided to eliminate many of the obstacles that prevent avid hunters from hunting a large chunk of property. They bought a large piece of property in Georgia and called it a conservation community.

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At Ocmulgee Banks food plot preparation is handled by the staff. All you have to do is hunt.
Referred to by many as a country club for hunters, the concept is simple. A conservation community is a tract of land that is developed and managed for huntable wildlife. Ocmulgee Banks in rural Hawkinsville, Ga., is a conservation community that some say is unlike any other piece of hunting property in the world.
 
Ocmulgee Banks is a sprawling 2,700-acre parcel of land that has 60 5-acre residential lots set aside for individuals to build homes on. The remaining 2,400 acres are managed with one goal in mind: creating high-quality hunting opportunities for property owners and their families. Once an individual purchases a 5-acre lot at Ocmulgee Banks, they have instant hunting rights and privileges on all 2,400 acres as well as 1/60 ownership in Ocmulgee Banks.
 
Noted white-tailed deer biologist Dr. Grant Woods designed each food plot and is now managing the property's deer herd to make sure owners within the community have the opportunity for a high-quality deer hunt each time they enter the woods. When someone purchases a lot within the Ocmulgee Banks community, instead of worrying about planting food plots and managing the deer herd, they only need to find time to hunt. 

The property is located on the Ocmulgee River and includes a 150-yard rifle range with a covered shooting station, 10-station 3-D archery range, trap shooting course and a walk-in cooler. Owners can use the cooler to quickly and easily process their deer.
 
"Ocmulgee Banks has been set up as a place where families can come and hunt and not worry about the upkeep," said Robert Manning, property manager for Ocmulgee Banks.

"After they have a house built, they can simply walk out their front or back door and go hunting. Their house and stake in Ocmulgee Banks is theirs forever to ensure that many generations will have a place to hunt and enjoy the outdoors," he added.
 
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ATVs are also available for use at Ocmulgee Banks.
As more and more rural land continues to be swallowed up and turned into shopping centers and subdivisions, hunters are beginning to worry that at some point they will no longer have a place to hunt. The beauty of a community like this is that hunters gain instant access to thousands of acres of high-quality hunting land for almost the same amount of money they would pay for 80 acres of private property. 

Woods says he's created a management plan that ensures that Ocmulgee Banks property owners will have plenty of run-ins with trophy-class whitetails, turkeys and hogs. Waterfowl can also be found on the property.
 
OEI Properties was the first company to pioneer this concept. Since they started Ocmulgee Banks, similar establishments have popped up. If you don't live near Georgia and aren't interested in Ocmulgee Banks, maybe you should consider doing something similar in your neck of the woods.
 
A handful of like-minded individuals can afford a much larger piece of property than a single person and when several hunters pool their money, everybody wins because they will all have a larger parcel to hunt. If you consider purchasing a large tract of land with other hunters and doing something similar to Ocmulgee Banks, Mike DiSario, president of OEI Properties, says you need to get everything in writing. 

"When several people venture into a property deal, it is best if a lawyer does some paperwork beforehand that spells out what can be built on the property and describes what will happen if one of the property owners wants to sell their share of the land," DiSario said.

"These (and other details) should be put down on paper so everything is spelled out ahead of time and everyone knows what they are getting into when they sign on the dotted line," he advised.

For hunters who don't have a lot of time or money, a conservation community is a dream come true. I have been to Ocmulgee Banks and can tell you it truly is a dream come true for the entire family. 

For more information about OEI Properties, visit www.oeionline.com. To learn more about the author, visit www.tracybreen.com.

-- Tracy Breen

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