Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt underway - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt underway

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –That other big event, the 24th Annual Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt, almost didn't happen after an upheaval in the Quail Unlimited National Office over the winter.

Good news for the multi million dollar quail hunting industry in South Georgia. The conservation group Quail Unlimited survived tough financial times.   Most of the national office resigned after accounting inconsistencies were found. But South Georgia volunteers saved the group's top fund raising event, the Celebrity Hunt.

Dozens of hunters took to the fields today for the 24th annual celebrity hunt, but it only occurred because of the work of South Georgia volunteers saving it.

 Quail Unlimited President Bill Bowles said "This is home, for this event. And to keep this national event here in Albany means a lot to a lot of people."

After most of the Quail Unlimited national officers quit, and several sponsors were lost, South Georgia volunteers had to step up to save the celebrity hunt. Governor Sonny Perdue came because he knows it is vital to the region.

Governor Sonny Perdue said "In economic development you have to use your strengths, and there are very few places in the world you can go to find quail hunting like you do around Albany Georgia."

The celebrity hunt is the top fundraiser for Quail Unlimited, which preserves habitat for game birds.

Former Braves infielder Jeff Treadway said "The events smaller, it's a lot different than it has been in years past. I think it's just a short term situation. Things will be back on track real soon."

Hunters like Steve Smith take part for the fun and thrill of the hunt. But they know the conservation work is vital to preserving the sport, especially in the tough economy.

Magazine editor Steve Smith said "There just isn't the money available to do the type of habitat management on public land that needs to be done. So the real key is private land."

That is why volunteers are proud they kept Quail Unlimited and the celebrity hunt alive....and the organization's conservation work will continue. Bowles said "It's staying in Albany. Staying home."

The Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt is smaller this year,  and the celebrities had to pay their own way to come. Organizers don't know how much money they will make, but they say the main thing is Quail Unlimited and the celebrity hunt survived a tough year, and will return.

In addition to the direct economic impact the hunt has in South Georgia... The convention and visitors bureau says it gives national and international exposure to South Georgia's quail hunting industry.

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