Bacon’s Castle, Sussex top hunt club bidders for Blackwater property

Published 7:16 pm Tuesday, October 15, 2019

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

Five hunt clubs bid on the Blackwater property, and two out-of-county groups offered the most money.

Bacon’s Castle Hunt Club, based in Surry County, put in the highest bid for the larger northern tract at $13,038.69. Bent Barrel Hunt Club of Sussex County offered the most for the smaller southern tract at $6,150. 

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The lowest bid for the northern tract was submitted by Mill Swamp Hunt Club at $5,000 and Isle of Wight Hunt Club at $2,400 for the southern tract. 

Also bidding were Beaverdam Hunt Club, which offered $3,894 for the southern tract. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors is expected to award the leases at its Oct. 17 meeting. The leases would run through March 1, 2020. 

While an invitation to bid rewards the highest bidders, the county can negotiate with the successful bidders, said Isle of Wight Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson.

In exchange for being able to hunt, the clubs are required in turn to provide maintenance of the property, such as mowing. 

The roughly 2,500-acre Blackwater property, located on the western side of Isle of Wight, is owned by the county, which put up about $1.5 million in taxpayer money in 2010 to purchase it. The remaining $1.5 million came from grants.  

Since 2010, Mill Swamp and Isle of Wight hunt clubs have leased the property during hunting season, with the stipulation that 51 percent of their memberships be Isle of Wight County residents. Mill Swamp’s most recent lease offered $14,174.92 for the larger tract, while Isle of Wight Hunt Club offered $2,397.60 for the smaller parcel.

Two years ago, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries offered to manage the land for public hunting and other activities, which caused some consternation from the local hunt clubs, as they wanted access to remain limited to Isle of Wight-based groups. 

Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors decided to form a task force to come up with a plan to incorporate club and public hunting, as well as other activities such as hiking, cycling, horseback riding and paddling. 

Rather than total access, the task force decided that the leasing hunt clubs would be able to hunt on certain days during general firearm deer season, as well as turkey season. The property would be open to public hunting on other days during those seasons and the remaining time would be for other activities.  {/mprestriction}