Bad Boy Buggies Writer’s Hunt

I knew I was in for an exciting November hunt when Brenda Potts invited me to historic Natchez, MS for a three day “outdoor writer’s hunt,” hosted by “Bad Boy Buggies” and located on the lush hunting grounds of Ellislie Plantation.

Just a handful of women had been invited by Brenda, who organized the gun hunt; myself from WI, Tes Jolly from AL, Joella Bates from TN and Linda Burch from MN, all very experienced and seasoned hunters who’ve traveled, hunted and written from all over the United States. I flew in as a guest of the Mississippi Bureau of Tourism and found the hospitality throughout Mississippi to be outstanding during my stay.

Being the newest “addition” to the gang, I was eager to meet my mentors and to share this hunt with them. I was equally as eager to meet with the Bad Boy Buggies owners Joe Palermo, Selah & Jim Willard and Tom Mansell. I couldn’t wait to drive the Bad Boys “SUV” -- Silent Utility Vehicle -- which has gained considerable notoriety over the last year in the hunting industry and which I’d seen used so often on TV.

Upon our arrival at Ellislie Plantation just south of Natchez, we were quietly and quickly whisked away by the 4-wheel drive all-electric utility vehicles and taken to the shooting range to sight in our Thompson Center .270 Encore Pro Hunter rifles. So accustomed to engine noise typical of the 4-wheeler I use at home, I was instantly intrigued with the stealth and ruggedness of these comfortable buggies. We each took turns at the range shooting the .270’s before darkness set in.

Ellislie Plantation is located south of Natchez, MS, bordered to the south by the Homochitta River. Family owned land since the 1800’s, it comprises over 2500 acres of land; 1700 acres of varied timber including oaks and persimmon trees and lush, meandering creek beds and 650+ acres of food plots and agricultural land.

Managed intensively by J.H. James for over four years under an aggressive TDM (Trophy Deer Management) plan, we were anxious to be on our stands at daybreak after being briefed on the harvesting guidelines; five years minimum age, eight points or less and scoring 140 or less. Strict guidelines he’d set this year to maintain his TDM program, but we were happy and eager to comply.

Morning greeted us with an unwelcome burst of moist gulf air and unseasonably warm temps that unfortunately lingered for the duration of our hunt. The previous week temps had been in the 60’s during the daytime, and the forecast now warned of temps hitting the mid 80’s. As expected, deer movement was minimal, yet several smaller bucks and does were sighted on our first day out.

The first animal downed came as a welcome surprise for Brenda Potts, who spotted a nice Bobcat bouncing thru the field on her second morning stand. She made a perfect shot at the mature Tom, her first, at 60-yards with her Thompson Center Pro Hunter, and dropped it on the spot. Cameraman and producer Rob Snider from Adventure Bound Outdoors was there to capture it all on film for a future episode.

The very same afternoon, Joella Bates downed a nice mature doe at day’s end with a well-placed shot out to 100-yards. She and I blood-trailed it just a short ways into the woods, and loaded it into the back rack of the Bad Boy Buggy for transport back to the lodge.

Each morning our guides picked us up and we drove silently to our stands. Most of the time we hunted from hang-on or ladder treestands positioned 15-feet up for the best visibility and shooting opportunities.

Although much of my hunting was in close quarters in fairly heavily wooded tracts, and not on open food plots, I still used my Nikon Monarch 10x36 binoculars to glass into the woods, and I still used my Nikon Team Realtree Laser 600 rangefinder to verify my estimated distances each day.

Throughout the incessant heat we found our ThermaCell units to be indispensable for keeping us comfortable and mosquito-free, enabling us to stay motionless and able to watch many deer undetected. Despite the heat, I found my ScentLok Ladies fleece to be comfortable, putting it on once I was positioned and not planning on moving.

On stand in the afternoon heat, I double-check yardages with my Nikon rangefinder.

We saw an abundance of does, one of which I missed with a poorly placed shot out to just 125-yards on my third and last morning stand. Despite my frustration, everyone reminded me that, “It happens!” Oh well. As they say, “That’s hunting!”.

Linda Burch enjoyed watching a nice 10-point, 135-inch buck the first morning there, (remember…rules stated it had to be eight points or less) but buck sightings subsequently were infrequent due to the heat and the fact that we hunted nearly two weeks prior to the pre-rut period in Mississippi. Mid December to early January is the optimum time to be hunting the rut in the south.

Despite a quiet hunt, it was enlightening to hunt the Mississippi terrain to see the different habitat, varying undergrowth and alternate food sources available in the south, and to see how the deer behavior varied depending on climate and management practices. Even more surprising to me was the obvious smaller size of the average does down south as compared with the hefty size does we harvest back home in Wisconsin.

Our sweltering mid-days were spent learning more about the Bad Boy Buggies fascinating story of success and performing our very own “test-driving” of these mean hunting machines in various terrain (away from our hunting areas)on the Plantation.

We had fun experimenting in creek beds, mud, fields, hillsides and grassy fields and were constantly amazed at their silent and powerful operation.

On a full charge, these buggies will keep rolling for up to 30 miles on flat terrain; up to 20 in rolling hills. These quiet, unassuming vehicles are sneaky and deceiving – they look like camo-clad golf carts but are decked out to be one serious hunting machine complete with 4-wheel drive, 15” of ground clearance, 31 hp and 170 lbs of torque with a carrying capacity of 800 lbs—enough to haul four people and their gear. These Bad Boys have plenty of storage, enough for transporting all your hunting gear, treestands and downed game, making them great for hauling the entire family or your hunting buddies.

As you can decipher, I was impressed with these machines and wishing I had one for myself to travel in silence when hunting my own land in Wisconsin. It sure would be a quicker way to travel through our woods without spooking game.

The Bad Boy Buggies team treated us like long-time hunting buddies, while respecting our hunting knowledge, our writing talent and our intelligence. I imagine that’s why they’ve seen their small company experience outstanding success over the last several years — because it’s obvious they treat their customers like they did us…as priority number one. It was evident in our conversations and it was evident throughout our tour of the Bad Boy plant in Natchez, MS where we saw first-hand how the buggies were assembled. The entire operation was impressive, clearly indicative of their management and ownership.

Even more impressive was the fact that they’ve grown from 2.5 million in sales in ’04, to $9 million in ’05 and up to a startling, but not surprising, 17-18 million in 2006, all this in just three years, and all while expanding operations, improving their product and adjusting to the growing demand for their buggies.

As they say these days, “That’s Bad“!

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© January 2007