Circle "M" Plantation
Noxubee County is a hunter's paradise. Whitetail deer and turkey are particularly prevalent. The area also offers dove and rabbit hunting.
Even though Macon is a very small city, it offers a lavish nine-hole golf course -Zach Brooks Golf Course- where golf can be played most every day of the year, with a few exceptions.
The Noxubee River was officially designated State Scenic Stream and included in the Scenic Stream Stewardship Program on March 31, 2008. The Noxubee River joined a small and select group of prestigious rivers and streams which have made outstanding contributions to Mississippi's natural heritage.
Hidden away in the rural southwestern corner of Noxubee County at Center Point Road, about four miles from the Alabama line, is a restored antebellum home and surrounding property, which is a sportsman's paradise destination, called the Circle "M" Plantation.
Like most of the area's earlier settlements, the property was a working cotton plantation more than 150 years ago. It was established as Paulette Plantation by Thomas Blasengame Paulette, a South Carolina native who married Lucinda Jane Harper in 1843 and came to the Noxubee area.
Vestiges of the property's long and rich history remain intact. A decade ago, renovators discovered a hidden vaulted wine cellar and liquor closet that served owners and guests during the prohibition era. The game room built in the 1920's contains examples of taxidermist-preserved game from decades before. The hunter trophies evoke the atmosphere of the gentlemen's hunting club of the era.
Sometime between the 1860's and the first decade of the 20th century, the plantation was called Ridgeway, and was owned by Paulette heirs. Later, it was called Auyaka Lodge, before it became known as the Circle "M" Ranch sometime in the 1920's.
Among the series of the property's owners was the one-time governor of the state of Oklahoma, E. W. Marland, who held the plantation between 1911 and 1928, and established a game reserve. With Tom McHenry as manager, the property expanded with the addition of nearly 20,000 acres of land acquired from neighboring farms, plus construction of cottages and the dining room. Changes were made to the original upstairs ballroom of the main house, the store building and barns. McHenry died in 1928. When the Depression hit the country, the banks foreclosed the property.
In 1933 a group from Minnesota purchased the property and it became the Circle "M". The owners included James F. Bell of General Mills; Horace Irvine of Weyerhauser; Steve Archer of Archer Daniels Midland; S. T. McHenry, a real estate tycoon; John P. Upton of Harris Upton Brokerage; and Alf Pillsbury of the Pillsbury Company. The property became a working farm with tenant farmers again. The plantation operated until the 1970's.
Lanier Long came to the Circle "M" a decade ago as as general manager for the estate, and began the process of the latest renovation of the old, history-steeped property to renew it to its longtime use, as a gentleman's hunting lodge.
Today the immaculately manicured grounds surrounding the original plantation home site are offset with white crossbuck fencing, echoing a fence design that was in place from the 1920's.
The grounds feature numerous amenities. Plantation buildings, once used to house machinery to gin cotton or to perform other necessary farm tasks, have been renovated and given new purpose. There are cottage-style lodges, a game room and dining area, and a saloon. A pro shop/office is located in a building that once was a commissary/store serving some 1,000 tenant farmers on the property. Arrow signs at converging points on the grounds' stone walkways point visitors on the proper direction - deer lodge, turkey roost and quail nest. Each lodge can accommodate up to five guests, and come with fully equipped kitchens, satellite television and luxurious baths.
Circle "M" guests have access to about 5,000 acres of land for hunting quail, deer, turkey and doves. In addition, there is a well-stocked fishing lake, hunting dog kennels, and a regulation skeet field. Old-style bird hunts are conducted in the tradition of the southern Georgia hunts of the 19th century. The hunters ride in a wagon and a guy on horseback with two dogs will point two off. A facility for processing game includes a walk-in cooler for storing meat until the guest's departure.
The Circle "M" today is owned by Dunn Investments in Birmingham, Alabama, whose general partners are Jamie French, Lee Noland, and John McMann. Still maintained as a gateway and retreat of businessmen, the hunting reserve primarily serves for corporate functions, as well as some weddings and other events. The Circle "M" has sleeping accommodations for up to 24, but the number of guests served usually is limited to around a dozen.
For additional information and reservations, call (662) 726-5791
2008-2009 Hunting SeasonSmall Game
SPECIES SEASON DATES DAILY POSSESSION
Frogs - A valid hunting or Apr. 1 thru 25 nightly 50 fishing license is required Sept. 30 , 2009
For information about areas, seasons, and permits, contact the
Noxubee National Wildlife Refugee 2970 Bluff Lake Road Brooksville, MS 39739 Telephone (662) 323-5548 http:\\Noxubee:fws.gov/nox-hunt.html