Cader Cox, owner of Riverview Plantation in Camilla, speaks the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club. His plantation was one of the first commercial hunting operations in the South. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY —When Riverview Plantation opened as a commercial hunting business nearly 57 years ago, the business model was quite a transition for a family that had been farming.
One of the first in the South in 1957, it’s still running strong today.
Speaking last week to the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club at its first meeting of the year, Riverview owner Cader Cox III shared some entertaining tales following his introduction from his former University of Georgia classmate, Dr. Price Corr of Albany.
Cox told the group that his father had started what was then known as Riverview Shooting Preserve after attending a seminar held by the University of Georgia that taught people how to get into the hunting business for profit and fun.
Riverview, he said, was one of the first commercial hunting businesses in the South, something that created a variety of challenges for the farming family. It was those challenges and changes through the years, Cox said, that helped the family shift the focus of its business from farming to hunting.
“The early years were very interesting, to say the least,” Cox said. “The first year that we opened, we were the first one in the South. The reason I know we were the first is that there wasn’t a law recognizing this as a legal business entity. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, we were a big family farming operation and so we would subsidize our losses from the hunting operation with the profits from our farming operation. The last 20 years we’ve been subsidizing our losses from farming with profits from hunting.”
Cox went on to say that over the years the plantation has grown into a very desirable vacation and outing destination, one favored by many corporations.
“Most of our business is corporate,” said Cox. “I’d say at least 80-85 percent is corporate.”
Cox said a few of the things that make Riverview popular are the lodging accommodations and the plantation’s emphasis on safety, something Cox takes seriously.
“I stress safety,” Cox said. “I think if you take everything that I’ve ever done in my life, and I give my parents total credit for the idea of starting Riverview, for having the courage and vision, but there’s a lot of things that I take pride in and the safety program is one that I take an awful lot of pride in.
“You’d be surprised how people have told us that they’re an experienced hunter and we see them get out there and they don’t know how to load a shotgun. We can pretty much catch them right there.”
Cox went on to say that one of the biggest misconceptions people have about his job is that inexperienced hunters create safety issues. On the contrary, it’s experienced hunters, Cox said, who are responsible for the majority of the safety violations he sees annually.
“I thought it was these guys all Park Avenue and Wall Street that came out with an $80,000 shotgun (who would be a problem),” said Cox. “But my novice hunters are not a problem at all. They have what we experienced hunters have lost and that’s a great deal of fear and respect for that gun.
“Ninety-nine percent of the safety violations that I’ve seen on my watch have been guys from the South and the West and the upper Midwest. They grew up with shotguns in their hands and have hunted all their lives, and they’ve just lost that fear for the gun and they’re too complacent, too nonchalant.”
Riverview Plantation is located in Camilla and features roughly 10,000 acres of hunting land. The plantation boasts eight guest cottages, a main lodge and approximately 200 bird dogs. Cox said typically the lodge hunts 30 people on any given day.