It sounds like a sportsmen's paradise out of Field and Stream: 55,000 wooded acres teeming with deer and turkey, and streams stocked with brown and rainbow trout.
But this hunting preserve, a favorite of congressmen, generals and foreign dignitaries, is never advertised in any magazine.
It is Quantico Marine Base, home to 7,000 marines assigned to the major infantry and artillery training facility. Located in the path of the ever-advancing spread of metropolitan Washington, 30 miles away, the base has become a last retreat for 4,000 deer and a host of wild turkeys, beaver, bobcats and bald eagles.
Despite occasional artillery barrages, and periodic war games, man and animal coexist in relative harmony, according to the base's wildlife manager, Bill Windsor, a retired Marine major who saw action in Korea.
In fact, the Virginia Game Commission considers Quantico and the work done by Windsor and his five full-time staff members to be crucial to the preservation of Virginia's wildlife.
With Fort Pickett in Blackstone and Fort A.P. Hill in Bolling Green, it has become one of Virginia's major game preserves, according to a spokesman for the Virginia Game Commission.
The base is also, according to the commission, the prime hunting area in the region. Among those who have hunted in Quantico's pine forest and scrub brush are Attorney General Griffin Bell, the ambassadors of Malta, Yugoslavia, and West Germany, a former assistant director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and several congressmen.
"Congressman Sikes (Robert Sikes of Florida) is one of our biggest hunters. He comes down during the spring gobbler season. He's gotten some turkey here. He's a very good hunter," said game warden Ralph Holloway.
According to Holloway, Sikes has his staff call the base's chief of staff to tell him the congressman is coming and to request a special "caller" - someone to imitate the sound of a gobbler.
Rep. William Nichols, "an old turkey hunter from Alabama," also hunts on the base "but he hasn't had any luck," said Holloway.
West German military and civilian personnel attached to the embassy in Washington are among the most frequent hunters on the base. "They're fine, fine hunters," said Windsor.
Windsor keeps a "VIP File" of the more notable hunters, but Quantico is open to anyone with a state hunting license who pays the $2 fee to hunt on the base. Last year about 6,000 hunters came to the base and some 1,000 deer were killed. The base's hunting seasons coincide with those of Virginia.
Windsor, a career Marine with a flat-top haircut turned silver, acknowledges that the primary purpose of the base is military training, but insists that Marine maneuvers seldom conflict with wildlife work.
Periodic war games are conducted on the base during which more than 40,000 rounds of blank ammunition are fired, tear gas grenades exploded, and hundreds of pounds of high explosives detonated. Elsewhere, howitzers rain shells down upon a pockmarked field designated an "impact area."
"When the first round drops, the deer move out over the ridge. When it's over they move back in," said Windsor. You're going to lose some of them, and this is part of the loss."
Windsor claims to have seen no more than two deer casualties caused by military maneuvers in the 16 years he has been managing wildlife on the base.
The deer have become shell-wise, he said, shying away from the scent of explosives that lingers from years of pummeling. Unexploded shells and duds also pose a hazard to wildlife and hunters throughout the base.
Windsor recently plowed up a 100 pound fragment bomb that had been dropped in 1943.
Windor said hunters sometime position themselves at the edge of an artillary range hoping to catch the deer as they flee the shelling. Sometimes the hunters are themselves within the shelling range. Last year about 50 hunters were prosecuted for wandering into hazardous or "restricted areas," Windsor said.
Though his office is opposite an ammunition dump, Windsor appears to worry more about his animals than about live projectiles.
Besides, he frankly acknowledges that the marines would not redirect artillrey shells on account of a turkey nest or grazing deer.
Windsor, dressed in dark green and wearing a knife on his belt, looks like a Marine guide and talks with a slight Texas drawl. While all about him others are engaged in the rigors of combat preparation, he contents himself with more bucolic endeavors.On Wednesday he planted clover and a cover of winter wheat to feed the deer.
He also counts the acorns on the tips of white and red oaks to ascertain how much food is available for the wildlife that feeds on them.
"These little pockets of military reservations and parks will really be about all that's left for wild animals," said Windsor.