By Gary H. Conley
Old Hudson Plantation is located on Georgia Highway 16 about 10 miles west of Sparta, Georgia at the 1.5 mile marker in Hancock County. Your GPS may not get you exactly there, but be on the lookout for a telephone pole painted white from the bottom up about 10 feet. This quiet place in the Middle Georgia pines has been in Neal Bush’s family since 1779. The original property was a land grant to family members who were of certain military ranks during the Revolutionary War with Great Britain. Today, the plantation encompasses 1600 acres of rolling hills, flat land and creeks.
As you leave the highway, you will drive down a graveled road that was once the main artery between Sparta and Eatonton. You will also see a big white tin roofed pre-civil war house on the right and an old wooden building on your left that was once a roadside store. The white house is where Neal spent his childhood and the old store, his grandfather’s, was a gathering place for the community to buy goods and exchange neighborhood news as well as good stories.
Old Hudson began as a working farm that grew corn and cotton. The land was worked by hand with mules and horses pulling plows to break the hard red clay Georgia soil. Riding around the plantation today you can still see the remains of an old cemetery in the trees where some of the farmhands of that period are buried.
Neal and his wife, Nancy, were away from Old Hudson for several years, but when their sons became interested in the shooting sports they moved back to the plantation and built a skeet/trap practice facility and five-stand for them. When the local youth shotgun team needed a place to practice, the Bush’s welcomed them and added a second skeet/trap field and a sporting clays course. These improvements prompted Old Hudson to become a public shooting facility in the community.
Today, Old Hudson Plantation is a thriving modern sporting club. There are two skeet/trap fields, two double five-stands, a pistol range and a 12-stations sporting clays course. There is a complete pro-shop that will outfit you with clothing, a new shotgun or ammunition. Corporate team building events, bachelor parties and families seeking a shooting experience are all available. Old Hudson has several guides with quality bird dogs to give the hunter a rewarding experience. There are also certified instructors to teach a beginning shooter the safe and proper methods of handling and shooting shotguns.
Old Hudson Plantation is a membership shooting club with approximately 100 members. A member of the Georgia Sporting Clays Association and the National Sporting Clays Association, Old Hudson hosts registered sporting clay shoots throughout the year. The registered shoots have participants mainly from Georgia, but shooters from surrounding states are in attendance. The club also holds a Thursday Shoot and Eat each week whereby the club provides the main menu items and the shooters bring a covered dish to complete a meal. The Shoot and Eat is a fun event where the bragging rights for winning far outweigh the prizes won.
Old Hudson Plantation is a great place to spend time. Club members and area residents are often seen sitting on the pro-shop porch in slated backed rocking chairs spinning yarns and passing on the community news. They invite you to join them to enjoy the plantation and the folks that call the plantation “home.” Come see for yourself that southern charm is plentiful and the experiences are fun and rewarding at Old Hudson Plantation, Sparta, Georgia.
You can contact Neal and Nancy Bush through their website, oldhudsonplantation.com, or give them a call at 706.467.9345. You’ll be glad that you did.
Gary, a retired banker, is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys golf, hunting, fishing and most of the shotgun sports. He enjoys working with new shooters and is a Level I NSCA certified instructor.