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Stories - Oct 30, 2020

Chris and Christine Payton

Arrowhead Lodge
Poplarville, MS
Chris, Christine, Jacob and Charlie Payton

Arrowhead Lodge consists of 343 acres of high-fence property as well as a 6,000-square-foot lodge and bunkhouse in rural Mississippi. Chris and Christine Payton bought the property in September 2018 because they wanted to have a place where their family could enjoy wide-open spaces and be fully immersed in the outdoors. The Paytons also wanted their kids to experience a way of life where things are not as fast-paced as they are in their hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana.

Chris, an entrepreneur at heart, is the founding partner of Assurance Financial, a successful mortgage company headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with over200 employees. Originally from Jacksonville, Alabama, Chris grew up on a 120-acre family farm where his grandparents raised beef cattle, pigs, chickens, goats and horses.

“I grew up working alongside my family taking care of the farm’s daily needs,” said Chris. “My parents were hard workers and instilled that in me. I learned the value of hard work early, and that’s stuck with me.”
Chris’s mother was the more business-oriented of his two parents and was the executive director of the Girl Scouts in northern Alabama. Chris’s wife, Christine, is a nonpracticing CPA and stays home with the couple’s two boys, Charlie, 15, and Jacob, 12. Christine grew up in the New Iberia, Louisiana, area.

The land surrounding the lodge has all sorts of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bass, wood ducks and a family of fox squirrels that the Paytons have grown to love.

“While I wasn’t in the market to buy a high-fence property, I appreciate the additional control that you have,” said Chris. “It keeps the wild pigs and coyotes out as well as provides an added layer of security.”

Chris, an avid outdoorsman, commented that “this property checked all the boxes for us. It’s not too faraway, a little less than a three-hour drive from our home, and gives our family the opportunity to hunt and fish in a beautiful rural setting. This is the place that we’ve dreamed of owning.”

In an effort to improve the buck-to-doe ratio, the Paytons work with a wildlife biologist to manage the deer herd on their property.

“Currently, we have about two does to one buck, and we would like to get a one-doe-to-one-buck ratio. The plan is to have balance along with trophy bucks,” said Chris.

He is most excited about bow hunting, although he has not had much time to do it, and said that rifle hunting has been fun for his boys and their cousins and friends. They are also working with a lake biologist to manage the fish to maximize their health to attain more trophy bass.

Christine says her favorite aspect of the property is the time they get to spend together as a family.

We’re able to bring the entire family here without the distractions of the busy life that we have in Lafayette,” Christine said. “Life just moves a little slower at the lodge.”

The Payton family would be remiss if they did not mention their gratitude for the caretaker of the property, Keith Ladner, a local man who lives just a few miles from the lodge and allows them to enjoy the property to its fullest potential. They all agree that without Keith, Arrowhead Lodge could not operate.

Technology also plays a factor at Arrowhead Lodge. Their oldest son, Charlie, received a drone for his birthday. One of his favorite activities is flying the drone around the land to survey the property and check on the animals, lake and fencing. They also have game cameras set up to survey their deer population, which they’re able to do remotely from their iPhones.

As a young boy, Chris would search the family farm for Indian arrowheads. Then, as fate would have it, the Payton’s property in Poplarville turned out to be full of them — hence the name of the place — and the young Payton boys love searching for them just like Chris did in his youth.

My grandfather always told me, ‘Son, if you ever find land with arrowheads on it, buy it,’” said Chris. And that’s exactly what the Payton family did.

The Paytons have lots of contacts in the financial world because of Chris’s mortgage business. However, since Arrowhead Lodge included a lot of acreage, it didn’t fit the traditional mortgage guidelines his company operates under. They narrowed their search down to three lenders, and weighed the pros and cons.

“We wanted to find a lender that was motivated to do the best for us,” said Chris. “Not only did we find that in Alex Riser (Southern AgCredit’s Gulfport branch manager), but we also found that he was an avid outdoorsman and knew exactly what we were talking about in terms of recreational property.”

The Paytons also liked the fact Alex was able to provide them with the best interest rate and terms for their deal.

“We’ve always felt that Southern AgCredit was looking out for our best interest, and we are glad we chose them as our lender and partner,” said Chris.

The Paytons have been Southern AgCredit stockholders since September 2018.