By Nancy Mueller ? FOR WILLIAMSON A.M. ? October 1, 2010

 

COLUMBIA, Tenn. ? A lifelong love for Halloween has led real estate agent David Miller into a scary sideline.

 

When he isn't selling houses in the Spring Hill area, he runs a growing enterprise called Miller's Thrillers that produces a Halloween experience venue, The Haunted Woods, at a farm in Maury County.

 

Starting tonight, The Haunted Woods will be open to fright-seekers for "showings" 7-11 p.m. on all Friday and Saturday nights in October. The attraction also will be open on two Sundays, Oct. 24 and 31.

 

Although The Haunted Woods is only in its third year, it has established a following.

Miller says last year's Haunted Woods drew 2,900 customers and he expects to top that number in 2010.

 

To prepare for this year's Halloween season, he and his team earlier this year attended the International Haunt Convention in St. Louis, where they picked up the latest ideas for scaring the wits out of their customers.

 

"We'll be showcasing several of those new ideas in this year's haunt," Miller said.

For a $10 ticket, The Haunted Woods offers an unguided outdoor trail that features two mazes through woods and a simulated swamp, leading up to a "barn of terror." The whole thing takes up more than five acres of a farm owned by Mark and Mary Voll on Greens Mill Road, just south of Spring Hill.

 

Going through the feature, which includes some interactive experiences with actors, takes about 45 minutes.

 

Miller, an accredited buyers' representative who is based with Crye-Leike Realtors in Spring Hill, said his enjoyment of Halloween merged with his business instincts a long time ago.

 

"When I was a little kid, I used to grow pumpkins on my grandfather's farm and sell them," he said.

"I sold them on a street corner (in Spring Hill) for $3 apiece. I remember one day, I made $80 in only about an hour."

 

As a realty agent, he's working with somewhat bigger numbers.

Miller's Thrillers is spending between $15,000 and $20,000 to create The Haunted Woods and Miller is hoping to gross $40,000 from ticket sales by the close of business Halloween night.

 

As much as he enjoys creating a haunted experience for other people, Miller doesn't do haunted houses himself.

 

"I was always too scared to go to a haunted house," he said.

He says that he has never sold one to anybody, either.