By Drew Pellman, Sr. Digital Hunting Editor
After a spring and summer unlike any other, most bowhunters are chomping at the bit to get back in the woods this fall. That, of course, includes our staff members here at Bowhunter Magazine, Bowhunter TV and bowhunter.com. We've already reached a few state openers, so we’re extremely excited to bring you another year of top-notch adventure on plenty of new dirt from across the United States. Additionally, we’re also equally amped up for a few return trips to a couple of places that have become a second home over the years.
Welcome to Paint Bank
One such place is Potts Creek Outfitters. Bowhunter has a longstanding relationship with PCO dating back to 2007, just two years after their outfitting business got its start.
So, why should you book a hunt at Potts Creek? Well, I’ve been involved with this industry for nearly 10 years now and have secured opportunities that I’ll remember forever for various reasons. Every outfitted hunt has its pros and cons, but let me start with a phrase that everyone is familiar with: location, location, location! If you aren’t in an area that fits what you’re looking for, you simply won’t have a good experience. That’s just a fact.
Potts Creek Outfitters sits in and around the tiny, remote town of Paint Bank, Virginia — which has a listed population of 138. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most relaxed atmospheres I’ve ever experienced, and that statement has nothing to do with the time spent afield in a treestand or blind. We’ll get to the hunting in a bit.
On your way to Paint Bank, you’ll notice the first sign of a great hunting destination when you’re about 40 minutes out. That's when cell phone service disappears. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t come back very often!
Go back and read that line again. Now tell me the weight of the world didn’t just lift off your shoulders. That newfound feeling of freedom will stay with you until one of two things happens: you return to that exact same spot on your way home, or you connect to the free Wi-Fi located inside The Swinging Bridge Restaurant while you’re enjoying a bit of home cooking. And trust me, each meal — which comes free with every booked hunt — is undoubtedly a highlight of your stay.
“I would describe Paint Bank as an underrated gem,” said Danny Walsh, Manager of Potts Creek Outfitters. “It’s sitting right there in the perfect location when you leave the highway and drop down into the valley. You’re surrounded by mountains on all sides and it feels like you’re completely off the grid. If you haven’t been here, it’s a place you really have to come see for yourself. The pictures are great, but they just don’t it justice.”
Where to Stay
Worried about accommodations in such a remote place? Don’t be. There are plenty of options — starting with The Depot Lodge, which is the main hub of all lodging in Paint Bank that features a master suite and four additional rooms. The building dates back to 1909, and was actually a train depot when Paint Bank was the final stop of the Potts Valley Branch line of the Norfolk & Western Railway. These rooms are equipped with satellite TVs and phones.
“When (our owners) bought these properties, they were all going down the gutter,” Walsh explained. “Everything was completely remodeled and brought back to life, allowing the history to be maintained while still being upgraded with today’s modern technology.”
“But it's the fact that they didn’t come through and bulldoze everything — the town itself still lays out the same as it did 70 and 80 years ago, which is the best part of the town.”
For larger groups — such as our staff trips — or families, you can consider other options such as the Pondersa and Fox Hill Cabins, as well as the Company House. At one point or another, our team has stayed in them all. In a word: outstanding!
Let’s Go Huntin'
Now, despite the fact that the vacation-like relaxation cannot be stressed enough, it’s time to get back to the reason you’re reading this article in the first place.
If you’re a diehard archery hunter, you can bet that Potts Creek Outfitters will have what you’re looking for. Why? Because bowhunting is all they do in the fall. That’s right — when it comes to deer, this is an outfitter that’s 100-percent committed to archery. What that means is you won’t have to worry about treestand or elevated blind setups that aren’t conducive to drawing a bow, or even worse — unsafe. I’ve been in those situations, and there’s nothing worse than getting halfway up a set of sticks before realizing you’d be better off (or safer) sitting on the ground. That’s simply a non-issue at PCO, and it takes away one of the most stressful situations that you can find yourself in when booking an outfitted hunt.
Property wise, with plentiful hunting ground on both sides of the Virginia and West Virginia border, the ball is firmly in your court as to which state you want to hunt. Potts Creek has access to nearly 3,000 acres of hunting ground — 1,500 in each state — all of which is surrounded by Natural Forest. If you so desire, the option is always open to test your luck by purchasing both tags and attempting to make a memory that would probably never be duplicated.
“If you come down here to get guided, our main goal is obviously to help you harvest a great trophy buck,” Walsh said. “But even more than that we want to guide you through an experience that you’ll always remember. We want your entire trip to be above par so you’ll want to come back and hunt with us again.”
Take it from someone who’s hunted with them on multiple occasions — both successfully and unsuccessfully — you’ll want to return again. I can promise you that.
*For more information — or to book a future hunt — visit pottscreekoutfitters.com or e-mail Danny Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.