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by Dave ‘Coonbottom” O’Kane

Iron Horse Mud Ranch ‘doing it right’ in Perry

Having the alarm clock go off at 6 a.m. is not how most people want to start off their weekend, but for mud boggers like me, exceptions can be made.

On Saturday, Sept. 17 my morning started early as I headed out to the grand opening of Iron Horse Mud Ranch in Perry, Florida. I must admit that at first I was a little skeptical about a new mud bog opening up in Perry. After all, there is already a nationally-known mud bog just a few miles up the road.

Could this new mud ranch actually live up to all the rumors I was hearing?

Two hours later I was pulling up to the entrance. As soon as I pulled off Highway 19 I knew there had been a lot of money invested. One pet peeve of mine (and many folks who regularly attend offroad events) is a bad entrance/exit. However, the road into Iron Horse was impressively high and dry. The line wasn’t too long and moved quickly.

Iron Horse had advertised that the park was 520 acres. The size really didn’t sink in until I was driving around for 10 minutes trying to find a familiar face. Although only a fraction of the land had been cleared and set up, the place seemed much bigger than I was expecting.

While driving around, I could tell there had been some serious thought (and sweat) put into this park.

The road passed by an ATV hole, a small truck play area and ATV hole, a designated camping area, a vendor row and, of course, the main pond. Each area had been designated and set up away from each other.

It was still early, but a few trucks were already out slinging mud and finding bottom. I am no geologist, but if I had to guess I would say that all of this area of Taylor County was once a swamp and has been covered by the ocean at one time in history.

The thousands who have bogged around Perry over the years know that once you get down past the sugar sand there is plenty of thick, black peat to root up. That means this place has some good mud and plenty of it!

After driving around for a while, I found a few familiar faces, parked the truck and got a good spot by the main pond. It wasn’t too long after that the action picked up some more.

If you are a veteran of any local mud bog, you know where the bad spots are and the basic layout of the ponds, but there is something exciting about watching trucks hitting a brand new bog.

Watching a truck’s front bumper nose dive and hearing, “There he goes!” brings the same excitement as a football fan celebrating a wide receiver catching a long pass and running into the endzone.It will get anyone’s blood going.

It was a going to be a good day!

As the morning wore on, I got a chance to speak with Gary Wells, general manager of Iron Horse Mud Ranch. He explained that he and his cousin caught the mud bogging itch like so many others before them and decided to open their own mud ranch and “do it right.”

The property was found for just the right deal, and the cards seemed to just fall in place. It was good to hear that this was just the beginning for the park. Future plans are to create a race track, expand the main pond and pretty much cater to what the crowds and boggers want. Like any good business, they know the key to success is to keep the customers happy.

For lunch, there were ribs on the menu and trucks in the bounty hole. For a first-time event, it went very smoothly, and the staff made sure any delays were short. The winner of the first-ever Iron Horse Mud Ranch Bounty Hole run went to Phillip Cooksey of Crawfordville, Florida.

As the afternoon waned on it was time to head back to the house. But it was hard to leave without first spinning the tires on the daily driver a little. After all, how can you say you’ve been to a mud bog unless you have to spray the mud off when you get home.

It is good to see that all of the hard work, time and money put into Iron Horse Mud Ranch has paid off. I would like to personally thank the staff and management for their time, and I can say I definitely will be back when the gates open again Nov. 18-20.

For more information about Iron Horse, see their ad in this issue and check out their website (www.ironhorsemudranch.com).

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OCT. 7-9 – CREEK BOTTOM ATV PARK OPEN RIDING - DOLES, GEORGIA

Creek Bottom ATV Park in Doles, Georgia will host “Creektoberfest” on Oct. 7-9 with a “Poker Run,” Halloween Costume Contest Ride and the Jackie “Bottleneck” Strickland band and Marshall Brothers Band. For more information, go online (www.creekbottomatvpark.com) or call (352) 528-3252. Creek Bottom ATV Park has 1,800 acres of mud, water and trails with lighted mud pits, bridges, free hot showers and free primitive camping located on Hwy 32, 15 miles west of Ashburn, Ga.

Oct. 8-9 Hog Waller ATV WEEKEND

Hog Waller Mud Bog will host its ATV Weekend on Oct. 8-9 in Palatka. Hog Waller has 700 acres of trails wide open for ATV/UTVs and guided night rides. Go to: www.HogWallerMudBog.com for details.

Oct. 21-23 Mud Muckers 4-Day Holiday Weekend

MudMuckers, the world’s largest off-road family fun park will be open all weekend Oct. 21-23. JR McNeil’s “RAZIN’ CANE” will be on hand for a monster truck show, in addition to ATV and truck races for $1,000 in cash prizes. The weekend will also include a Haunted Hayride, Treasure Hunt, guided night rides, live entertainment and a Halloween Costume Contest. Guests will enjoy free camping and free hot showers, food vendors, a general store and an ice machine. Entry fee is $25 for all three days and $15 after 5 p.m. Saturday. Gates open Friday at 9 a.m. The park features an ATV pit, a Hill & Hole pit, mud drag pit, 5-acre play area, separate truck campground, ATV/UTV round pen, landing strip, obstacle course, balance beam and more trails than any other park in the world. MudMuckers consists of 11,000 acres of family-owned land in Bunnell, Fla. and has developed the best trails, mud pits, vendor area and entertainment. For more info, see ad on page 77 or call “Iron Horse” Billy at 386-566-1456.

Oct. 21-23 – Roots ‘N Boots Country Music Fest at Triple Canopy Ranch

Don’t miss TCR’s inaugural “Roots ‘N Boots Outdoor Music Festival & Mega Mud Bog on Oct. 21-23 in Lake Wales. In addition to an incredible weekend of muddin’ and racing, there will be a “TCR Talent Competition,” a new Jeep Challenge Obstacle Course (in which you can enter to win a 2012 Jeep Wrangler) and four bands performing live on TCR’s new stage. The weekend party begins Friday night with live music. Saturday will feature another $3,000 Racing Challenge in the mud pit for trucks and ATV’s and Jeep Series challenge on the new Jeep obstacle course. The party will continue on Saturday with TCR’s first-ever talent search and into the evening with the Daniel Lee Band, Robert Stowell, Bush Hawg and Randy Houser. Check out the TCR website for more details at www.triplecanopyranch.com.

OCT. 21-23 – PUDDING CREEK TRUCKS GONE WILD (TGW) WEEKEND

Pudding Creek Mud Bog will hold a big three-day “Trucks Gone Wild” event Oct. 21-23 in Perry, Fla. In the past the event has attracted more tractor tire mud trucks than any other event on the planet. All mud holes have been re-groomed and a new DOT mud hole has been constructed. Gates open at noon on Friday. Admission is $30 for the weekend and $20 for Sunday. Pudding Creek is located at 6609 S. Red Padgett Road, Perry, Fla. See ad on page 80 or call 850-371-2525 for details.

(For the rest of this month's scheduled events pick up the current issue of Woods 'n Water Magazine.)

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For more in-depth off-road coverage, pick up this month's issue of Woods 'n Water, click on our forums page http://www.woodsnwater.net/forums for the "Offroad" section and be sure to visit http://www.woodsnwater.net/boggin for awesome video and photos of recent events around the South!