BY TONY KINTON | PHOTOS COURTESY OF NOONTOOTLA CREEK FARMS
A pleasantly brisk October afternoon was waiting when I arrived. Autumn colors had begun to decorate hill sides of North Georgia; mountain laurel snuggled hard against rocky trickles of clear, sun-spangled waters. Noontootla Creek gurgled a grand invitation to stop and visit. That I did. With the assistance of friend Stephen “Tee” Patton, a resident of the area, I set a 10 x 12 canvas wall tent and slid its wood stove into place. Tee had chores to attend, and within a few minutes following set up he was off. I was alone, a condition I often prefer. Smoke soon drifted from the tent stove’s pipe.
The initial intent of this outing was to dress in 18th century attire, load a flintlock rifle and hunt black bears. The population of these fascinating creatures has been on a marked increase in the thousands of acres of public land there for years, and regulated hunting is a viable measure in proper management. Tee would bring his recurve bow and join me when he could. Even though I didn’t get a bear, the experience was rich, rewarding, something I must do again. But, I found a hidden gem during the excursion. That was Noontootla Creek Farms. Tee is farm manager for that operation.
Noontootla Creek Farms is 1,500 private acres of rich farm land stretching approximately three miles along either side of Noontootla Creek. No longer a farm in the strictest meaning of the word, it remains a farm but one managed for quail and pheasant hunting. Careful practices are employed to enhance the property for this express purpose. Additionally, trout fishing along this portion of Noontootla Creek is exceptional. Brookies and Rainbows reproduce with abandon and are present in true abundance. Upon Tee’s suggestion, I visited the facility and immediately booked the services of guide Carter Morris for an afternoon fishing trip. Bear hunting would have to wait until the next morning.
THE TERRAIN BESIDE THIS PORTION OF THE CREEK, WHICH IS OUTSIDE THOSE RUGGED, PUBLIC-GROUND MOUNTAINS IN WHICH I WAS BEAR HUNTING, WAS EASILY NEGOTIATED, EVEN BY AN AGING ANGLER SUCH AS I.
The creek was broader, affording wide and gentle pools, these filled with sparkling Rainbows in the 20-inch-plus class. One that entertained my drifting fly pushed 24. He was promptly admired and released. Sunset found me resting with excited recall in the glow of my camo stove making plans to do the same this upcoming October.
Noontootla Creek Farms is a must for those with a propensity for the outdoors. Quail and pheasant hunting are exceptional, a professional sporting clays range is available and trout fishing is as good as it gets. General quail/pheasant hunting is offered January through March; fishing is best from fall through spring. For the more adventurous, public lands abound nearby, with spectacular mountains offering additional hunting for deer, black bears, small game and turkeys, coupled with extensive camping and hiking. The southern gate to the Appalachian Trail is no more than 10 miles distance.
Scenic mountain towns of Blue Ridge and Ellijay are nearby, offering any service a visitor could want. Lodging for guests at Noontootla Creek Farms is also available at the original farm house, this nestled on a gentle hill just off the creek. This lodge sleeps eight and has full kitchen and bath facilities. For additional information about Noontootla Creek Farms, visit ncfga.net, or call 706.781.4019.