Trip registration is available to guests upon completion of payment for their general registration. General Registration opens November 1, 2018. You will receive a confirmation email instantly and follow-up communication from our team. Sponsors will continue to handle their trip selection process through our Sponsor Chair, Melissa Cummings, at 706-557-3326. Trips are no additional charge unless a surcharge is listed.
Time: 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Animals abound at Altamaha Wildlife Management Area, and the WMA’s Butler Island is a focal point for wildlife viewing. Once an antebellum tidewater rice plantation and now a nationally recognized Important Bird Area, Butler features a Ducks Unlimited MARSH impoundment, observation towers and acres of flooded fields that draw ducks, white ibis, wood storks, bald eagles and scores of songbird and shorebird species. Experts from DNR and The Nature Conservancy will lead a walk through this wildlife wonderland. Keep your eyes open and cameras ready for birds, rabbits, deer, turtles and – if the day is warm – gators!
Walks at Butler Refuge can be muddy. Boots or other appropriate footwear is advised.
Time: 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
The Marine Corps’ Townsend Bombing Range is the East Coast’s premier air-to-ground training site. But the range also is a significant part of a conservation effort that is preserving and restoring key ecosystems and wildlife populations, from longleaf pine forests to gopher tortoises, along the Altamaha River. Learn how protecting our nation and our wildlife work together as you tour Townsend and nearby conservation projects. And while not guaranteed, guests may even get to see a training exercise at the range.
Clearance will be required in advance for guests on this excursion.
Time: 12:30-3 p.m.
The bald eagle is our national symbol, our most iconic bird and one of our best-known conservation success stories. Since the late 1970s, the number of bald eagle nests in Georgia has soared from none to more than 200, with the coastal region becoming a nesting stronghold. In this first installment of Weekend for Wildlife’s Birding U, DNR eagle survey leader Bob Sargent will explain the bald eagle’s remarkable comeback and take you on a search for eagles in the wild, even visiting an active nest!
Time: 12:30-3:30 p.m.
There’s a wild side to St. Simons Island … and it’s growing. Glimpse this island’s past and learn how the St. Simons Land Trust and DNR are conserving it for the future as you tour Cannon’s Point Preserve and part of Musgrove Plantation by land and water. These sites include high-priority habitats such as coastal hammocks and St. Simons’ last intact maritime forest, plus captivating history and crucial ecological connections within the Altamaha River corridor and with other protected properties.
Time: 1-3 p.m.
Poet Sidney Lanier called them a league of grass “broad in the blade” and laced at high tide with a million veins. Yet salt marshes are also a complex ecosystem brimming with wildlife and almost unbelievably rich in plant production – nearly 20 tons per acre! Board boats with DNR biologists and naturalist Georgia Graves for a glimpse of the creatures and ecological importance of one of the coast’s most critical natural resources.
Please ask staff about appropriate dress. This excursion is weather-dependent.
The coffee we drink is connected to the neotropical migrants we watch. From Baltimore orioles to Blackburnian warblers, many birds found in Georgia over-winter in or migrate through coffee plantations in Latin America. To highlight those ties, we’re brewing up a coffee tasting with Americus-based Café Campesino, importer and roaster of Fair Trade specialty-grade coffees. Sip and learn as DNR scientists explain the amazing travels of neotropicals, and you sample a savory lineup of organic, shade-grown coffees produced in agroforestry systems that provide critical wildlife habitat.
The Sea Island Shooting School is considered one of the best in the nation, and with good reason. Two skeet fields, a trap field and Five Stand offer a competitive range of shooting options and fun. The Shooting School’s staff features three NSCA-certified instructors and one NSSA-certified instructor. Expert or novice, this always-popular session is sure to sharpen your shooting.
Time: 7:15 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
OK, so we have time for only a quarter-Big Day: But this is your shot at Weekend for Wildlife’s first! Set the bar high as you scramble to spot or hear the most species possible in six hours. With DNR experts, you’ll hit local birding hotspots from Gould’s Inlet to Andrew’s causeway, racking up birds, hopefully padding your life list and without a doubt having fun. Grizzled birder or fresh-faced newbie, all will enjoy this mini-birdathon. We’ll even provide a break for lunch and – of course! – a Big ¼-Day hat.
Binoculars are a must. Need a pair? Let us know when you register and we’ll provide one.
Time: 7:15 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Satilla is one of the state’s most scenic rivers, a free-flowing stream that changes from cypress-lined blackwater to brackish-water expanse framed by marsh. Explore this beautiful river in a 10-mile kayak tour led by Georgia Conservancy President Robert Ramsay, DNR staff and SouthEast Adventures. You’ll enjoy wildlife and wild sites, and lunch at the rustic, relaxing Satilla Lodge on the banks of the river.
This excursion requires strenuous activity and is weather-dependent. Kayaks, paddles, PFDs and instruction are included.
Time: 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Experience an ancient sport on coastal lands carved from one of the South’s oldest hunting clubs. Father and son master falconers Steve and Adam Hein will be your hosts for a memorable morning at 5,800-acre Broadfield, a Sea Island sporting club and lodge. Witness amazing aerial agility and hunting styles as the Heins use a Harris hawk, goshawk and a peregrine falcon – the world’s fastest animal – to find squirrels, quail and other game. Cap the adventure with an exquisite, home-grown lunch and a side of history on the sport and the setting at Broadfield.
This excursion is weather-dependent.
7:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
From estuary to ocean and uplands to beaches, Sapelo Island offers a magical mix of habitats rich in wildlife and habitats. Begin with a ferry ride through the estuary and across Doboy Sound. Then join DNR and UGA staff as you pick from options including kayaking, cycling and hiking to further explore these natural communities and the dynamic connectivity that sustains them. You can even choose to help combat Chinese tallow (aka popcorn tree), scouring a large dune ridge formed by the 1898 hurricane to find and destroy this invasive species.
Some options on this excursion require strenuous activity and are weather-dependent.
Time: 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Frederica community on St. Simons Island sports a 400-acre lake managed for trophy bass, a world-class Golf Learning Center and stunning grounds that are home to scores of birds and other animals. Participants on this excursion will choose between two tracks: fishing (try to beat Frederica Lake’s best 12-pound, 8-ounce largemouth) or wildlife viewing and golf instruction (improve your swing with the expert help of Brian Bateman, Frederica’s golf ambassador). Then enjoy lunch in Frederica’s picturesque, Adirondack-style boathouse. There’s something for all in this unique excursion.
Fishing is catch and release; no license required. Fishing gear and golf clubs provided or bring your own.
Time: 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m.
From swamps to sand ridges, the Altamaha River watershed is crawling with reptiles and amphibians. While winter is a slow season for these creatures, sunny days can be a prime time to find rare eastern indigos – our longest snake – as well as big diamondback rattlers. DNR herpetologist John Jensen will be your guide as you search for snakes, “scope” gopher tortoise burrows and dip-net for amphibians. Gain a greater appreciation for these creatures and efforts to conserve them.
This excursion requires extensive walking in woods. Appropriate for guests 12 and older.
Time: 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
DNR’s Coastal Resources Division is helping Georgians understand the connectivity of the coast’s natural environment. Explore the ecological ties between black water and sea water as you travel aboard the R/V Marguerite from St. Simons estuary headwaters to the Atlantic Ocean. Biologists will explain the connections and provide a birds-eye view of natural features using an Unmanned Aerial System. Learn how the Brunswick Port works to sync operations with these sensitive ecosystems. And dig in as CRD lays out its trademark low country boil and roasted local oysters and clams!
Appropriate for guests as young as 10.
Time: 8:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Saving species on the brink of extinction takes hard work and commitment. But for conservationists at White Oak, this work is their passion. Witness the results of White Oak’s efforts involving more than 30 rare species – including cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes and more – as you explore this world-renown, 16,000-acre conservation center led by an experienced educator. Learn the intriguing history of White Oak and enjoy a buffet lunch in one of the center’s beautiful dining areas.
Appropriate for children.
Time: 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Ever wondered what you would or should do if your home is invaded? Telluric Group will answer that question and more in a unique course that delves into the knowledge, mindset and tactics to handle a home invasion. After lunch, team with DNR rangers and Telluric instructors for time on the range, firing weapons and learning the pros and cons of each firearm regarding home protection.
If they’d like, participants can bring a handgun. Ammo can be bought at the range. Eye/ear protection provided.
Time: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Span the Plantation Era and America’s Gilded Age on the Georgia coast in this new excursion led by DNR Historic Preservation Division guides. Dig into the past of Cannon’s Point Plantation. Visit the St. Simons Lighthouse, shedding light on long-ago maritime trade. Probe the islands’ Gullah Geechee culture born of African traditions. Learn about the Wanderer, the last ship to smuggle enslaved people to Georgia. Tour historic cottages and relive the Gilded Age demise of the Jekyll Island Club, former playground to the wealthiest Americans. It’s a whirlwind tour that will open your eyes to the region’s history.
Time: 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Whatever your skill level, a day at Sea Island Shooting School will improve your mechanics and boost your confidence. Try your hand at skeet, trap and Five Stand in a beautiful marsh-side setting. Benefit from Sea Island’s veteran teaching staff. Let Instinct Shooting expert James Rutland transform your ability to point into snap-shooting skills that will have you plugging nickels in mid-air with a BB gun! Relax at the clubhouse and dine at the Cloister on us.
Guests provide their transportation to and from the Shooting School and lunch at the Cloister.
Time: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Be one of the few who experience this private, 10,000-acre barrier island. Reached only by boat, Little St. Simons is an Audubon Important Bird Area and a member of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. More than 280 species of birds, from bald eagles to roseate spoonbills, make their home here. Follow staff on an interpretive walk through ancient maritime forest and along wind-swept marshes. Feast on a Lowcountry lunch in a hunting lodge built a century ago. Then revel in the solitude of seven miles of pristine beach.
Time: 10:45 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Fantastic scenery, fascinating boat, great food: Our cruise on the Capt. Gabby has them all. This restored shrimp trawler based in Darien is named for the late Herbert Walker, who was born on Sapelo Island and worked on many shrimp boats. After a sumptuous lunch complete with unique wines and beers, guests can soak in the peace and beauty of Georgia’s Darien River, part of the Altamaha River basin. DNR staff will explain not only the wildlife and habitats, but the importance of conserving this amazing watershed.
Time: 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
Join DNR Coastal Resources Division staff to glimpse what lives in the waters of coastal Georgia! Board the R/V Anna–a shrimp trawler converted to a research vessel–and see how biologists inventory marine life using a traditional shrimp trawl. Get up close with everything from white shrimp to whiting! Dine on roasted local oysters and clams and low country boil. Watch as staff demonstrates how resource managers are using Unmanned Aerial Systems to help in conservation.
Appropriate for guests as young as 10.
Established in 2010, the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the preservation of Georgia’s natural and cultural resources through projects, activities and programs of the Georgia DNR. We rely on donations and partnerships with individuals, corporations and other similarly aligned foundations to support our initiatives.
Event Coordinator - Amber Carter