Celebrity quail hunt continues - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Celebrity quail hunt continues

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  South Georgia's annual celebrity quail hunt will go on, despite serious trouble for the organization that runs it. Quail Unlimited is essentially broke.

 Co-founder and longtime president Rocky Evans resigned. It looked as if the quail habitat preservation organization would fold, but South Georgians won't let it die.

Quail Unlimited has a huge impact building and promoting South Georgia's billion dollar quail hunting industry. That's why South Georgians are determined to save it, and the Celebrity Hunt, the organization's biggest fund raiser.

Hollywood, music, and sports celebrities have been coming to Albany for 22 years to enjoy quail hunting, and raise money for Quail Unlimited. That group helps preserve and build habitat for the nation's top game bird. But this fall the organization's board found out the national office was broke.

 "The organization was in trouble and we still have a lot of work to do," said Bill Bowles Quail Unlimited President.

Bowles, the managing partner of Quail Country Plantation, was named National President three weeks ago, and his first job to save their top fund raiser, the Celebrity Hunt. Local volunteers are making sure the 23rd annual event will fly.

"They are working so hard to insure this event comes across with such quality as never before in our community," Bowles said.

The Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt has helped market South Georgia's quail hunting industry across the world.

 "It brings in people from all over the United States," said Lisa Riddle, President of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau. "And also gets us coverage so that people further out are seeing what's going on in Albany, and how great the hunting is."

The celebrity hunt only has a $400,000 economic impact on the community, but business owners say events like that are vital to growth.

"Anytime you can get folks from out of town coming in spending money, and they are decide not to, you are going to worry about it," said Moe's Southwest Grill owner Mac Hare. 

Bowles says don't worry, the Celebrity Hunt will go off as planned, even expanding to five days.

"We want to make sure that the future of Quail Unlimited is handed to the next generation behind us," Bowles said.

Longtime celebrity regulars at the hunt are paying their own way to come in January, and South Georgia volunteers are working daily to make sure the hunt continues. 

Bowles is not receiving any salary as the Quail Unlimited President, trying to get the conservation organization back on wing.

The Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt will be held January 28th through the 30th at more than 30 plantations across South Georgia.

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