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Water Valley Lodge Testimonials

Mike Kelly at Water Valley Lodge   Mike Kelly - Cape Coral, Florida
Without question the finest hunting lodge I have ever been to! I have spent years trying to find a professional hunting lodge that delivers what it promises and Water Valley Lodge is it! From the time you arrive you will feel like you have been there before. There are no strangers at Water Valley. The accommodations are 1st class and CLEAN! The food is delicious. And it is impossible to say no to Pia, when she offers you seconds. The hunting is well planned and you know what you need to know prior to being dropped off at your stands. These stands are well placed and you will see deer! You can hunt food plots, wooded areas, clear cuts and various other terrains. Jake and his guides are very professional and they do this for a living, it is not a part time job! They truly care about your success. If you enjoy hunting and after a long day in the field you want a home cooked meal, hot shower and a comfortable bed, the Water Valley Lodge is the place to go!

  Dean Suda - Fridley, Minnesota
I am an avid whitetail hunter from the Midwest and last fall a few friends and customers of mine decided to venture into another state. We heard exciting things about hunting in Alabama but we weren't familiar with the area or hunting clubs. I searched the internet and came upon several sites, but the one that stood out from the others was Water Valley Lodge. Your website was easy to use, self  explanatory, and had great photos that helped us to decide to give you a try.

We arrived at the lodge at night and although it was dark outside, it was easy to find our way around. We found ourselves lucky enough to pull in just in time to see the days' trophy achievements. After the initial excitement and marveling over all the mounts, we couldn't wait to get out for ourselves the next day. We were then welcomed by the staff, went through a safety briefing, and sat down to dinner. To our amazement there was more food than we ever imagined and treated to a feast. There is just nothing better than southern cooking and this certainly was not a place to lose weight. The food was simply delicious and lots of it! The accommodations were very comfortable and quiet - except for the snorers, of course.

The next day we got up early for the anticipated morning hunt, were loaded in a comfortable suburban, and headed out to the hunting spots. It was very well organized and we knew just where to go and what to do when we arrived at the blind. After the morning hunt we came back and got ourselves familiar with the camp. It was nice and clean and well maintained. The skinning shed was quite impressive - something every hunter dreams of. In addition, they were well equipped with very safe clean blinds and stands. The variety of hunting was nice with either ladder stands or blinds and hunting over woods, valleys, or food plots. The scenery was beautiful and bountiful with lots of deer, turkey, and a hog was also spotted. We looked forward to the evenings which were very relaxing after the huge dinner that was served. It was so enjoyable to sit around the enormous camp fire and discuss the days hunt - it seemed as though everyone had a story. Along with all that the lodge had to offer, it was an extra bonus for me to bag a nice Ten Pointer. I had grunted it in early one morning which I have never done before. It was the largest buck I have ever taken and it was awesome!

The whole entire staff was exceptionally kind and courteous. I would like to give special thanks to Pia and Jake for making this trip an experience that I will never forget. I look forward to visiting Water Valley Lodge in the future.
Safe and Happy Hunting, Dean Suda



Richard Lander - Narrowsburg, New York
A small group of us decided about 9 years ago to hunt outside of our state. We chose to hunt Alabama because their whitetail deer season peaks 6 weeks after our season in New York closes; it was also a pleasant break in the winter doldrums and COLD. Over those 9 years we hunted with 2 other outfitters before trying Water Valley Lodge 2 years ago.

We reviewed just about every Alabama outfitters web site and one member of our group prepared a spread sheet comparing number of hunters, acreage, price, accommodations, stands, handicap accessibility, harvest requirements, game availability, and limits. On items we deemed important, Water Valley Lodge was always listed, so we called Pia and Jake and booked our trip in March of 2004, for that following January. The deer hunting season in New York came and went and we were anxiously awaiting our trip. Before too long and a 14 hour drive we finally arrived at Water Valley lodge.

We arrived earlier than our 1 o'clock check in, as we had to leave upstate New York ahead of an impending snowstorm. Our first introduction to Jake was a bit embarrassing for us, as I said we got there early, around 7:30a.m, we were looking for someone to see if we could check in early and we came across a guy in a green Carhartt jacket and hunting cap pulled down and asleep in the lounge. To our surprise after waking him up and asking where we could find Jake or Pia we were surprised to find out we just woke Jake up after having returned from putting out the hunters for the morning hunt, it was a good thing he has a sense of humor.

After exploring the lounge and dining hall we started to get a good feeling, until we started to hear about all "the rules", which we would hear of in greater detail from Pia when we checked in. The check in process takes about an hour, where you can purchase a hunting license if needed. A safety video is reviewed, the antler restrictions, and bag limits are explained, and "the Rules" are explained. "The Rules" are nothing more than common courtesies, which you would expect from one another to help make your stay at Water Valley Lodge a pleasant one.

After breakfast you are picked up outside "the boot room", which I mention because it demonstrates Jake & Pia's desire to make your stay a safe and pleasant one. "The boot room" is a spacious locker room where lockers are provided to store your firearms and boots, anyone who has ever hunted in Alabama or saw the movie "My Cousin Vinnie" can tell you horror stories about the quality of Alabama MUD. Anyway after every hunt the hunters are dropped off at "the boot room", where your boots are hosed off, before going in the room to store your gear for the next hunt, keeping the dining room, lounge, and your room clean. Also having your gear in one place makes it a lot easier getting everyone out to their stands, and you don't hear, in the words of John Jacob, "WHERE'S MY DAMM BOOTS".

Our first morning hunt was a successful one, a new member of our group took his first Alabama buck from a comfortable well placed shooting house. I might add that the shooting houses eitcrack

  Tony Lopez - US Embassy, Liberia
Hi Pia, Just wanted to thank everyone there at Water Valley for a great time. You all made me feel more like family than a customer. Let me know what the fee for the mounting will be. I was thinking about poses and I like a slightly downward and to the side look--like what you suggested.
Happy Thanksgiving, Tony

  Tim Douthit - Decatur, Alabama
To Pia, Gaddy and Steven, I just wanted to thank you for a very enjoyable time at your place. You have such wonderful facilities to go along with great people and I wish you much success. I will be back to hunt your turkeys soon and to eat som delicious food, I just hope the portions will be larger next time. (ha, ha).
Thanks again for your hospitality, Tim Douthit

  Dave Tefft - Michigan
Jake and Pia, I had a really good time last year when I was at your lodge and I am considering booking a trip through our store for January. What type of openings do you have for the last week in December and the first week in January. I came the first week in January last year and I took a nice buck the first day, and really enjoyed the hunt. The service was great last year and I am sure my good customers here would enjoy a hunt at your lodge. Please contact me asap so we can start planning.
Thanks again Dave - Litchfield Outdoors

Brian Gesch - Wisconsin
Pia and Jake, Greetings! Alex and I had an excellent time at your lodge. It was professionally run and the hospitality was what I had hoped for. I wish I had not had to hurry so much but that is the nature of my life. I enjoyed my guides and the food was very good. We wish we had gotten something, but that is why we call it hunting rather than shooting! I hope it works out for us to visit again in the future. I have alot of friends who are asking me about the experience. Keep me posted about future seasons and opportunities.
Thanks again for the good time. Sincerely, Brian L. Gesch crack

Steve Jones - Jackson, Tennessee
Thanks for the hospitality; We had a great time, cant wait to do it again. If you're ever in the Jackson Memphis area let me know, we'll do something. Thanks Steve, Dale, Nick, Bill and of course Ashton Tanner.


Jerry King - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Pia, I hope this finds you well. I would like to thank you and your staff for providing my son a hunt he will remember for a long time ( 1/13 - 1/16/05. I would also like to thank Jake for presenting him with the engraved knife set that he found to be very special. Should you ever vacation in the Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge Tenn. area, please call me and I will help you in any way possible.
May God Bless you and your family, Jerry King. crack

Jim Bernola - Alabama
Jake , Pia and Staff, Thank y'all for a great time on my recent hunting trip. The service was fantastic. I will be telling my friends about your operation and hopefully they can experience a fine time like I had. The food was great, and plenty of it.....y'all work very hard and it shows on the quality of service we received. I will be stopping by for coffee from time to time, take care and thanks again.
See you soon, Jim Bernola


Vance Rogers - Bogalusa, Louisiana
Hey Mrs. Pia, Just wanted to say hello and tell you that we enjoyed the hunt and I look forward to seeing you March 14th for some spectacular turkey hunting.
Keep Jake straight. Bye, Vance Rogers crack

Mike Nelson
Hello Jake & Pia,
Thanks for the great time at Water Valley. Dave & I really enjoyed the stay and your hospitality. We arrive back safely; it took 15 1/2 hours to get back - drove straight through. We're hoping to como back again in the near future.

Enclosed is a picture of our hunt in Northern Wisconsin in November 2002. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Sincerely, Mike Nelson


Jake and Pia,
I can't thank you enough for the hospitality you showed Angie and I. It was everything I expected it to be. For my first guided hunt I could not ask for any better. Deer hunting for eight years, now I realize there is no sure thing in hunting if you believe in fair chase.
I will be telling many of my friends about your place and look forward to next year. With a little better planning on my part hopefully my trip will be successful. I am also hoping to bring 3 or 4 friends next year but more than likely without the wives (don't tell Angie, lol) It was a trip I will never forget.
Thanks again, Hutch.

P.S. I'm Looking for those handle covers for your black pots. They are a little harder to find than I thought but when I do I will send them to y'all. crack

Jon Bieber - Lafayett, NJ
Jake, Pia, Thanks for the stay. Although I didn't score, the camp set-up and hunting areas were premier. I think I'll come a bit earlier next year, as I think the mature animals were a bit too wary to be entering feedplots or clearcuts that late in the season. I told Gary when I was leaving to ask for a woods stand, and he scored the next day. Let me know if you're looking to grow your business. I deal with an outfitter in Houston with good contacts and exposure. If we did a piece for the Outdoor Channel on Water-Valley, especially at your prices, you would be turning back bookings. You might also wan tot consider a fenced "super buck" area, where you charge by point or rack score. You'd be surprised how many hunters would "find" the money ($6,000 in TX) when they see 140-180s come in to camp. Good luck...see you next year.

Bob Pingleton - Newberry, South Carolina
Ms. Pia and Jake,
Really want to thank you for great trip to Alabama for Deer & Hog hunting. What a great place to hunt and to take the family if you want to. The country is on the side of heaven, the deer are huge in most cases and the lodging is the best that I have been to. The food is tremendous at every meal and am sure that I gained 3-5 lbs. while we were there.

Will send you some footage of the TV show that will run through out the SE in early fall 2005.

Again, I wish to thank you for your help and kindness towards our whole crew while we were there and will look forward to seeing you in March for Turkeys.
Bob Pingleton, Pres/CEO
The Dodge Everyday Sportsman TV Show
Newberry, SC crack

Lee Wilson - Foley, AL
I hunted at Water Valley in Jan 2003. Guides were knowledgeable and friendly. Saw a lot of game-hunted in trophy area-but chose to pass on several deer. Accomodations were first class and food excellent-served with a smile. Very friendly, hardworking folks that go out of their way to make sure you have a good time. Rules of the hunt spelled out in advance-no surprises and no hidden cost. I will be back and will recommend it to my friends.
Lee Wilson crack

Jeff Herrington - Laurel, MS
I visited the lodge 2 times last season once with my seven year old son who took 2 deer. We saw over 10 racked bucks in 3 days,  6 of them over 15" and we saw these 6 at the same time in the same food plot. My son still talks about that almost daily. The people are very friendly and family orientated. I had had second thoughts about carrying my young son , thought he might not fit in or be in a rough suitition, however this was not the case. They treated my son with the same respect as myself. He is already packed ready for this years hunt. Thank you very much. crack

Chip Ledbetter - Quitman, Mississippi
I had a great time hunting at Water Valley! I got the biggest deer of my 20+ years of hunting and my dad killed his second biggest deer in his life! Both deer scored in the 130's. I will go back and hunt with Jake & Pia again!!! Great turkey hunting also! crack

D'Anne Rothbardt ~ Foley, AL
I've hunted with the Utsey's at Water Valley for the past three years. I've always seen lots (scores)of deer and hogs as well. I've taken 3 beautiful whitetail at Water Valley and two boar hogs as well. What I like most about Water Valley is the overall atmosphere there. With the exception of one other guest who was too uptight about hunting to hunt, the guests at Water Valley always seem to have a good time. I've met some really nice people there and look forward to my trip this upcoming season. The guides have always taken good care of me and I consider them to be well prepared for their job each day. They have always been right on with the information they have given me about the places I've hunted. The food is excellent and in fact I always gain at least 5 pounds over a three day period. As for accommodations, I have yet to have to share a room or bunk with anyone other than my friends, who also hunt Water Valley each year. Their policy provides private accommodations for each party that comes there.

I would reccomend Water Valley to anyone who has an appreciation for well managed property (land) and facilities. They don't like for you to shoot young bucks, get into their vehicles with a loaded gun or muddy up their rooms with nasty boots. Personally those are rules I can live with. crack

Kris Stewart - Chatom, AL
I was looking for a place not too far from my home where I could take my 10 year old daughter on a deer hunt. I was concerned about a "hunting camp" atmosphere and told the Utsey's as much when I first called them. They assured me that I need not be concerned about people misbehaving at Water Valley . They also said they would take good care of my daughter. WOW! Did they ever! Everyone there was so welcoming and friendly. She saw lots of deer each time she went out, many of them bucks. She was nervous about killing one that was too small and wouldn't pull the trigger on several bucks that she saw. Finally they took her to the six point area where she killed a nice 10 point! And she shot a doe as well.
I really can't say enough good things about our trip to Water Valley Lodge. Our room was extremely clean and we had a bath all to ourselves. We thought they were giving us special treatment because of us being female and all but it turns out that every group has private accommodations there. My daughter is a real pickey eater but it never mattered there. She ate everything that came out of the kitchen. Needless to say, the food was excellent!

Can't wait to go back! crack

Ian Palmer - Dothan - AL
I have hunted with Jake for many years. Water Valley has always been a good place to hunt. We dont always have a successful hunt but the chance is always there. The fields are large and numerous. It would take may hunts to see all of them. I like having private bathrooms and I also like having the bunkhouses separate from the dining hall and the lounge. crack

Jay Baker - Jackson, MS
I have hunted at Water Valley for years. It is a great facility that is always improving. I have always had good hunts and enjoy hog hunting during deer season. Turkey hunting is great as well. Jake and Pia are good kind people and have always treated me like a friend. crack

Steve Abston - Alabama
The company I worked for scheduled several hunts with Water Valley Lodge for our clients. We enjoyed each hunt and left with some really nice trophies. The guides were professional and friendly, always giving a 110% effort to make our hunt enjoyable and successful. The atmosphere at the lodge was warm, comfortable, and had the feel of a true sense of southern hospitality. The food and service were exceptional. We never failed to see a large quantity of top quality deer on each hunt. crack

Paul Burnthall - Atlanta, GA
I have been to several outfitters within the south for whitetail hunts and Water Valley Lodge is the best. Both Mr. and Mrs Utsey could not be any better. They welcome you as if you were an old friend. The accomodations were great. The private bedroom and bathroom was a nice touch if you are hunting alone. The food was great. The lounge area was a great place to get away and just relax. One of the biggest things that impressed me was the quality of the game. In my mind Water Valley Lodge is the best Whitetail hunting within the state. I would recommend anyone who is looking for a great experience to seriously consider Water Valley Lodge for their next hunting trip. crack

Chris Davis - Smyrna, SC
From arrival to departure...the Utseys' make you feel right at home & welcome at their establishment. Jake & Steve are very knowledgeable and always have time to answer any questions you may have. They're very receptive to suggestions about the area & stands you'd enjoy hunting. Food plots are well planted & all stands are well positioned for optimal viewing. From my experience, having visited twice, I've seen an abundance & variety of opportunities at choice game. The dining is top knotch with excellent meals. Individual cabins are very comfortable...recreational area with widescreen TV and pool table for your enjoyment! Personnel prepares your game in well equipped & extremely clean shed. I would redcommend this lodge to anyone looking for an exciting, yet afforadable hunt! Already booked my 3rd trip for next year and taking my wife along. crack

Kelli McCleer - Pelzer, SC
Water Valley Lodge is a very nice place for any hunter, group of hunters or a couple hunting together. The facility accomodations are very clean and nice. The owners, guides and staff exhibited their wonderful southern hospitality and were very nice to my husband and I. We went during turkey season and plan to go back next year. Our guide was great and helpful. This was my first turkey hunt and I couldn't have had a better time anywhere else. The food was very good also. Everyone there makes you feel so comfortable, It was great!! crack

Ron Grenadier - Portage, MI
Jake runs a 1st class operation in all aspects of the hunt. I would recommend him highly.

My situation was difficult as I decided to bow hunt for deer and hogs in last November, 2005. As with many hunts, weather plays a very important role in hunter success. The first 5 days saw temperatures in the mid to high 80's, which was 20 to 30 degrees hotter than normal. Nothing was moving because of the heat. Only the last two days, animal activity picked up as the weather turned cooler. crack

Al Ban - Foley, AL
I would highly recommend this outfitter for a first class hunt! crack

Michael York ~ Gulf Breeze, FL
The atmosphere was very professional and comfortable. The accomodations were clean and nicer that I had hoped for. Safe, legal, and ethical hunting was practiced. The plots, shooting houses, and ladder stands were all in great condition. The amount of game was more than I anticipated to see. I was pleased to use the gun range which is the quality of a shooting club. Jake provided extra attention to my fathers needs and limitations, witch unfortunately come with age. This was a pleasant experience witch I look forward to again in the near future.
Thank You Jake and Pia Utsey. crack

Jude Becnel - Thibodaux, LA
Excellent accomodations and hunting. This is our 3rd trip to entertain some of our customers. I have to say it gets better each trip! We saw deer on each hunt even in bad weather conditions. We took our share of deer incuding my best 10 point ever. Jake, Pia, Steve and Eddie sure know how to take care of you in the kitchen and in the field hunting. The lodge just keeps getting better and I wished I could go more often! crack

Gene Billeaud - Tuscaloosa, AL
This is a first class operation. From the time you drive up to the time you depart, this lodge is run safe, clean and very organized. The food was great, even if I did gain 5 lbs. while there. Great place for entertaining guests or just want to go out and get a trophy. crack

Dear Jake and Pia,
I want to thank you for the great hunt, the excellent food, nice accommodations and the good conversation. This was by far the best hunt I've ever had. Well done! 
Best Regards,
Mike Rhoads

Water Valley Lodge
2742 Melvin Road - Gilbertown, AL 36908
T: 251-843-3168 - F: 251-843-2106
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