Reaping Rewards in Georgia

Phil Delestrez and his sons, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Panola Mountain State Park, GA

In 2015, Phil guided me through remotes corners of Hard Labor Creek State Park in Georgia. This is a very skilled, experienced wildlife expert, Phil. He pointed out Gemmed satyr butterflies, and they posed, I thought then that they were doing that with his wink and nod, so to speak.

This year, ’16, I contacted Phil and asked again, would he meet and guide me somewhere in Georgia. I was based in Eatonton, Putnam County, near Lake Oconee. His reply was well, OK, but it’d have to be on a Sunday, and he’d come with his family. Dada!

We met at Panola Mountain State Park, east of Atlanta. I held my breath when I saw where he was taking us. A Restricted Area!! I could not and would not have known it existed, or have entered there. What total Fun we had, hiking to the top of this rocky hilltop. This extensive microhabitat has not changed for 10,000’s of years, and with Phil’s keen eagle eyes, we found Juniper Hairstreak butterflies, a very rare grasshopper that eats lichens only, and a spider so rare, that it remains, unnamed.

His children, two shown here with Phil, were a delight, and adept at trail work.

Phil is with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He is a fine testament to the excellent job they are doing, at each and every one of the state parks I’ve visited.


2 thoughts on “Reaping Rewards in Georgia

  1. exploring on our own is always an adventure, sharing the time with experienced guides a treat most of us never enjoy. so glad that you had this chance to see a piece of Georgia that is protected by such an expert as Phil ….and that he is teaching his children by his dedication for the future. your delight in the day will reinforce his lessons for them

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    • You are correct on every count, judgeva. That you directed us to a bonanza that I did not note, our future stewards of our finite habitat, is to your considerable credit. All of us had a Super day, and all were superb in the field. So much goes forgotten, but that day, for me, remains poignant, fresh.


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