At the far end of a narrow dirt road sits a serene little lodge that’s alluring to guests seeking nature and solitude. Nestled on approximately 1,876 acres of pristine land on the outskirts of the town of LaBelle in Glades County, a peaceful preserve exists that welcomes enthusiastic hunters. In October, I was invited to a media event at Silver Lake Preserve and gratefully accepted. I had no idea what a treat awaited me. Long-time Boca Grande resident and Preserve Manager Phil O’Bannon welcomed guests to the beautiful locale, giving a gracious tour of the lodge that sleeps ten and the untouched land it exists upon. The lodge offers four bedrooms, five bathrooms, a large dining room, a modern kitchen, and a common area. Each bedroom has its own private bath with an additional bathroom in the common area. Amenities include central heat and air conditioning, satellite TV, wireless internet access, hardwood floors and an outdoor bonfire area for socializing. O’Bannon said he personally knows many quail Story by Sue Erwin Photos by Sue Erwin and the Silver Lake Preserve website hunting enthusiasts in Boca Grande, but he doesn’t think many of them are aware of Silver Lake Preserve. In 2014 Phil was searching for this kind of opportunity and heard about the position. He’s personally known Charlie Lykes since he was 18-years-old, so he filled out the application and landed the job. Charlie is the president of Lykes Brothers Ranch, Inc., the company that owns the Preserve. The property has served generations of the Lykes family as private hunting grounds, now made public. After the tour, we were treated to a delicious steak dinner, prepared to personal preference by a talented chef named Terri. Dinner included salad, baked potatoes, green beans and fresh rolls, not to mention red velvet cake for those who still had room for dessert. After dinner, Phil led us outside to a fire pit where we sat and shared stories, listened to the hooting of the owls and a handful of other creatures I wasn’t able to identify.
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