Friendly Boca face at Silver Lake Preserve in LaBelle

silver-lake-preserveBoca Beacon writer Sue Erwin spent a day with island quail hunting guide Phil O’Bannon last week and headed out to Silver Lake Preserve in LaBelle, FL.

Phil has been quail hunting since he was a young boy and has been the acting preserve manager at the 1876-acre site for the past three years.

The Lykes brothers own 338,000 acres in the area. The preserve was originally built in 1948 for private quail hunting trips for family and friends. Since it is a licensed preserve, there is no limit to the amount of birds you can hunt.

Phil and another experienced guide named Nic gave local members of the media a tour of the property and invited the group to stay in the modernized lodge on at the preserve. It boasts private rooms that sleep up to ten, a full-size kitchen and dining room and private bathrooms. 500 yards away from the cottage, guests could hear the hunting dogs – English pointers, Brittany breeds, spaniels and setters – howling and ready to get out into the field and do their job way before the sun came up.

Advertising for the lodge was mostly word of mouth in the past, and now it’s all done via social media.

The preserve also has a 1.2 mile nature walk for guests who are staying at the lodge, but don’t necessarily wish to hunt.

Quail season runs through March 31, but you can also schedule pheasant, alligator and hog hunts. Turkey season is already almost fully booked. An outdoor shooting range is also available for shooters to practice their firearms. There is a 25-yard pistol range and a 100-1,000 yard rifle range. Prices vary on the season, type of hunt, amount of people and length of stay. Overnight accommodations start at $150 per person and that includes breakfast the next morning. The lodge is also available for meetings and corporate events.

Silver Lake Preserve is located at 2860 Silver Lake Road, LaBelle, FL, 33935. For more information, visit SilverLakePreserve.com or call 863-273-7712.

For the full story on Sue’s experience and photos of the beautiful preserve, make sure to pick up a copy of the January/February edition of the upcoming Gasparilla Magazine.