March/April 2013

TSJ Series: Castaway Lodge

Story by Steve Lightfoot

Like a lot of sportsmen, Kris Kelley started coming to Seadrift to hunt ducks; the allure of the coastal marsh and all its bounty. Ducks got him here, but it was the fishing that kept him here for good and led to the creation of a sportsman’s oasis called Castaway Lodge.

Two decades after leaving Waxahachie for the Texas coast, Kelley has no regrets. His passion for hunting and fishing initially sparked a seasonal guiding operation out of Seadrift that justified spending more time doing what he loved – chasing ducks and redfish. The biggest downside was logistics. With minimal lodging, food and cell phone services in Seadrift, Kelley was spending a lot of time and effort on things outside his control. Too many moving parts.

His business acumen led to the creation in 2007 of Castaway Lodge, a full service base of operations in Seadrift; a logistics hub for anglers and hunters who drive and fly in from all over the country, and Kelley is the air traffic controller.

Relaxing on the back porch of the 5,000-square-foot lodge, which sleeps 16 in bunkhouse style rooms and features all the amenities, you don’t see the moving parts. Kelley has surrounded himself with talent, both local and national, and they do their homework to maximize the opportunity for success.

“Breakfast is at 5:15, wheels up at 5:45,” Kelley informs us as he prepares to call it a night. “I’m not going to come banging on doors and turning on lights. Set your cell phone alarms for whatever time you need to be up and ready to go.”

It’s the last weekend of duck season and even though Kelley and his crew have tracked movements of birds daily since late October, they were out scouting the afternoon of our arrival and had formulated a game plan. Kelley tells Roy Biles and me to temper expectations.

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