Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt has big economic impact - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt has big economic impact

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January 25, 2008

Albany -- One of the biggest and most important events of the year for the South Georgia tourism industry hit the fields Friday.

 The 22nd Annual Quail Unlimited Celebrity Quail Hunt isn't just about fun. It has a huge economic impact on the region.

Hundreds of visitors are quail hunting on more than 40 plantations across South Georgia and pumping an estimated half million dollars into hotels and restaurants.

The hunt also brings plenty of publicity. Dozens of outdoor shows will film the hunt, and writers will publish articles about Albany and South Georgia being the Quail Hunting Capital of the World.

The overall economic impact is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, one of the biggest eco-tourism success stories in the state.

Also some top industry executives are here for the hunt, and local officials are pitching the benefits of doing business in South Georgia to them this weekend.

The Celebrity Quail Hunt also impacts the environment and wildlife in South Georgia. The hunt is the biggest fund raiser for Quail Unlimited, a non profit conservation group dedicated to improving the habitat and population of wild game birds.

More than 50 stars of Hollywood, sports, and music took to the fields Friday. Quail Country Plantation in Early County hosted several celebrities and hunters who pay for the thrill of quail hunting on some of the best hunting preserves in the world.

Outdoor Hunting Television Show host Bob Redfern says the hunting is great, but the Quail Unlimited Celebrity Hunt is the special because of the people.   "It's about wildlife, and it's about sportsmanship, but it's also about fellowship."

Action movie star Patrick Kilpatrick is best known as the villain in dozens of films and TV shows, and finished his latest film just before the hunt.  Kilpatrick said "I just killed Sean Young Sunday, for the final scene."

Kilpatrick lives in Hollywood, and said he could not wait to get back to South Georgia to support Quail Unlimited.  Kilpatrick said "A lot of people in Hollywood don't understand the relationship between groups like this and conservation. So anything I can do to foster that, it's really great. Because I consider myself an environmentalist."

 Quail Unlimited raises and invests millions of dollars into preserving the habitat that Quail need to survive, and research to make sure wildlife in America has a future.  Redfern said "not only for what we live in now, but for our kids. And for them to grow up with what we have today, that is what Quail Unlimited is all about."

The Celebrity Hunters help raise money to keep South Georgia wildlife habitat thriving, and the future of hunting, fishing, and outdoor sports growing. The Celebrity Hunters will return to the hunting plantations Saturday, and the hunt concludes Sunday.

In the last five years Quail Unlimited has planted nearly 550 miles of wildlife food plots, and nearly 260,000 trees and shrubs for game birds and animals to call home.

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