Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

September 25, 2010

The hunt is on

Bear Creek Lodge open house sparks local interest

RUSH — Serious hunters and interested locals got the chance to explore a new hunting lodge on Saturday.

People gathered at picnic tables or walked through the rooms at Bear Creek Lodge during an open house and ribbon cutting for the hunter’s retreat on Saturday morning.

The open house took place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Activities included music, a free lunch and turkey and deer calling demonstrations.

Standing outside of the main lodge, Paul Eastham, 79, surveyed the property once owned by his grandfather and father. He came to see what had been done with the property he spent time on as a child.

The land was later the home of Diederich 4-H Camp.

Eastham learned to swim in the lakes that sit on both sides of the lodge and would often visit the people his grandfather had allowed to build a cabin on the property.

“I’d ride my pony up here, me and my cousin, and we mooched off them I guess,” he said.

Eastham said having a business like Bear Creek Lodge in the area is good for Boyd County and he hopes the venture will succeed.

“I think he’s done great with the property,” Eastham said of owner Jonathan Reece. “Everything’s set up pretty well for what he wants to do.”

Reece said the lodge is one of two that are part of his business, Kentucky Antler Company. The other property is Canoe Creek Outfitters in Lancaster. They also raise elk in Lancaster and white tail deer near Bear Creek Lodge.

In addition to the lodge, the company has leased more than 10,000 acres where their patrons will hunt, he said.

“I thought, you know, this isw a great place,” Reece said. “It’s back away from everything and people can come out here, you know, enjoy the outdoors, enjoy lakes and the great trails, you know. It just made sense.”

Reece, who lives in Granite Falls, N.C., said the business was started after his family bought property in Kentucky as a hunting retreat and then realized the business potential of the property.

His brother, Kevin, now lives in Boyd County and manages the business.

Reece said reaction from the public has been good so far. Many people still remember it as a 4-H camp and are interested in seeing how it has changed.

“People in this area, when they were children, came to the camp and they’re coming back and they’re looking at the renovations that have been done and they’re amazed, they’re like ‘This doesn’t even look like the same place,’” he said.

Locals, however, are not the target market for Bear Creek Lodge, Reece said. Instead, the business will focus on bringing in hunters from outside the area into Kentucky. The facility is also available for retreats and corporate meetings and functions as a bed and breakfast.

Kaylan Dotson, 12, of Boyd County, said she’d love to come back to the area to hunt. Dotson came to see the open house with her family because they all love to hunt, she said.

Dotson hunts both deer and turkey, but her favorite is turkey because it’s more of a challenge, she said.

“You got to aim really, really carefully,” she said.

Mike Greer, of Ashland, said he came out to the open house because he’s considering it as a location for a company retreat.

He said he was impressed, and plans on contacting Kevin Reece about planning the retreat.

Walking through the main floor of the lodge, furnished in high-polished wood and dotted with stuffed deer and other animals, Kenny Ison, of Lawrence County, said he came to the open house because he and his grandson, Kenny Ison III, are both hunters and were curious about the development.

“I think it’s great what I’ve seen so far,” he said.

For more information about Bear Creek Lodge, go to kyantlerco.com.

KATIE BRANDENBURG can be reached at kbrandenburg@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.

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