Everyone loved Nottman’s house, and it is one that I will remember forever.
His house was traditionally tasteful but classically understated so that it wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. The appointments and accouterments were comfortable instead of lavish, and the setting on the river estuary near the ocean was wild and natural. It stood several miles from the quaint downtown and was civilized, to boot. The house was big, maybe close to l0,000 square feet, but no one cared in the least about the size.
Nottman was a sportsman, and the modest 1200 square-foot cottage across the Belgian block driveway from his house was his castle. The single-floor dwelling had weather-beaten cedar shakes and a hunter green tin roof. In the carport garage sat a fully restored 1981 Jeep Scrambler. A five-station sporting clays course lay off the path that connected the cottage to its deep water dock. Here, Nottman had a choice between a 23-foot Sea Craft, a slew of kayaks and a cat boat for gunk-holing around. The boats blocked the duck blind, but when the birds arrived in the late fall the hulls would be put up on blocks. The main house may have been his wife’s, but the cottage and the grounds were most certainly his.
While everyone was in awe of the exterior and the grounds, it was hard to separate that from the cottage’s exquisite interior. A mahogany gun cabinet stood in a corner next to the fly-tying table, and both of those areas were next to the rod racks. There were dozens of fly rods, fall-run surf rods, offshore standup rods, and some thick, trolling meat sticks. Leather couches and chairs stood en garde in front of a big-screen television which was next to the bar. A wood-burning fireplace took the chill off the air that inevitably leaked through the leaded-glass windows.
The writer John Ed Pearce once said, “Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave and grow old wanting to get back to.” When they’re young, sportsmen want to travel the world and see all that their sport has to offer. After a while they miss home, that simple place of being surrounded by favorite gear and like-minded souls.
Nottman created his own oasis, and if you’re industrious, you can, too. And while you’re looking for that perfect place, consider that some may already exist. Some version of a sporting community or fractional opportunity may be just the ticket. Walking out your front door to go fishing, riding, or shooting is what it’s all about, isn’t it?
South Carolina Sporting Life at Brays Island Plantation
The Brays Island homeowners are living what would seem to be a bygone reality–the pastoral pleasures of a leisure class of Southern plantation owners. The 5,500-acre private residential community features 3,500 acres set aside as a nature and hunting preserve. Remarkably, the land is virtually unchanged from its earlier days when Brays Island functioned as a working plantation.
Whenever they like, the 325 co-owners of Brays Island Plantation can walk from their front porches into a private sporting playground to hunt and fish, ride horses, paddle kayaks, play golf and swing through a round of sporting clays. A spirited match of tennis or a workout in the fitness center is set in the quiet scenery of oak trees and camellia gardens, early 1900s farm buildings of whitewashed brick, bluff-edged river views, and native woodlands of pine and palmetto. When you’re refreshed, stop by the elegant owner’s Inn for lunch.
The mix of natural beauty and diversity of activities creates Brays rare and strong appeal. Situated in the South Carolina Lowcountry between Charleston and Savannah, this combination of amenities and location makes Brays Island Plantation more than a gated sporting community. Brays is a haven for those who appreciate both nature and a host of outdoor sporting pursuits. In fact, it’s a way of life (www.QuailAtBrays.com, 866-320-1201).
Tropical Paradise at the East End of Grand Bahama: Deep Water Cay
Island life in the Tropics revolves around the tides, and at Deep Water Cay it has never been better. Since 1958, Deep Water Cay has played host to some of the most famous names in angling history. A multimillion dollar renovation has poised the Granddaddy of Bonefish Clubs for a bright and vibrant future.
The 2.1-square-mile land is home to a mixed-use club where homeowners, club members, and visiting anglers become reacquainted with life’s simplicity. Activities range from sight casting to bonefish and permit on 250-square miles of flats; offshore fishing for wahoo, tuna, and mahi-mahi; and reef fishing for a wide variety of species. Scuba dive the blue holes, hookah dive or snorkel the reefs. Spend the afternoon paddling the turquoise water in a kayak, or come about in one of the club Hobie Cats.
Once on the island, everything is a walk or a golf cart ride away. The executive chef prepares a variety of day-boat seafood in the breezy ambiance of the Member’s Lodge. The Welcome Center the epicenter of activities, perched next to the marina, the Tiki Bar, and the floating docks. Play a match of doubles tennis or a workout in the Fitness Center. An afternoon perched in a teak steamer chair by the Infinity Pool or on the private beach is a great idea, too. An outdoor massage while you listen only to the waves lapping against the shore is a terrific way to end the day.
There are a limited number of lots where homeowners can build cottages to suit as well as turn-key properties. Members and guests select from two- and four-bedroom houses, complete with all the amenities of home. Seven cottages are available for smaller groups, and all buildings are waterfront and offer spectacular sunrise and majestic sunset views.
Deep Water Cay is 100 miles east of West Palm Beach (www.deepwatercay.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, 888-420-6202).
Belt, Montana’s The Ranches at Belt Creek
The Ranches at Belt Creek is an 800-acre residential ranch community that is the vision of Mark E. Hawn and his son, developer Mark Christopher Hawn. Ranch lots are available for purchase, and 200 acres are maintained for outdoor recreation by members, their families, and guests.
A full-time ranch manager and club concierge oversee all facets of the club. The heart of The Ranches at Belt Creek is the Sportsmen’s Club. Members, their families, and guests choose between various activities. Fly fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, big-game and bird hunting, sporting clays, golf, ATV excursions, and a range of winter activities.
What makes The Ranches at Belt Creek appealing for many is the complete freedom that the club offers. Fly fishing equipment, shotguns, horses, kayaks, ATVs, snowmobiles and associated gear is available for use. There is zero upkeep, insurance, and maintenance to be handled by members. Pick your activity, grab your gear, and go.
In addition to the seemingly endless adventures to be shared on site, homeowners and members are provided with exclusive access to the Hawn’s family ranch. The 6,500 acres are located some ten minutes up the road from the residential ranch community. Big-game hunters particularly like the ranch because of its large populations of deer, elk, bear, turkey, and mountain lion. Bird hunters favor Montana for the pheasant, sharp-tail grouse, Hungarian partridge, sage grouse, ruffed grouse, blue grouse, and chukar partridge. Flyrodders like the nearly eight miles of Belt Creek that winds through the land and offers outstanding trout fishing. For more information contact The Ranches at Belt Creek at www.ranchesatbeltcreek.com.
Montana’s Bitteroot River: A Fractional Ownership Opportunity
Rather than buy and appoint a home onMontana’s Bitterroot River, why not buy in to an existing, fully appointed home? Windermere Real Estate is offering two of three shares in a turn-key, 2,300-square-foot ranch-style home. An opportunity like this is oriented for serious fly fishermen or for folks who are looking for a family retreat. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was completely remodeled and landscaped in 2009. Two of the bedrooms are master suites with private baths. A gazebo and hot tub are on the property, and the house won the 2009 Parade of Homes Award.
The main draw is walking out your back door to access 150 feet of private river frontage. For anglers who want to cover more water or to head to some of the other famous trout rivers in Montana there are two different boats parked on a trailer in the yard. The first is a Clacka-Craft Low Profile Drift Boat, and for streams with rocks and strainers there is an NRS Rubber Raft. Two vehicles are available for use: a Ford Excursion and a 450 GL Mercedes.
For someone who loves the Missoula area and wants to be done with the hassles and get on with the fishing, a fractional opportunity may be the very best bet. Anne Jablonski at Windermere Real Estate (www.movemontana.com, 406-546-5816) can make it happen.