ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Hundreds of people are gathering in South Georgia for the 3rd Annual Quail Invitational.
The hunters, some families and sponsors are spending the weekend in the Good Life City.
Quail Hunting is a South Georgia tradition hunters with the Quail Forever Organization are working to preserve.
"It's what our grandparents grew up on, it's what my grandparents grew up on and now again what I grew up on," said Shawn Walters, a hunter, and owner of Loco's Grill and Pub.
This year, about 60 hunters are spending time on some of the areas finest plantations as part of the annual Georgia Quail Invitational. More than 300 others are expected for the banquets that coincide with the hunt.
"We actually hunted yesterday with some folks from Virginia," explained Walters. "They had never done anything like it before so it's neat to see them and how they react."
Other hunters in the area this weekend come from areas of Nebraska, California and Texas.
The Southwest Georgia Chapter of Quail Forever has been putting together the three-day hunting and banquets that follow for the past few years. Last year's the event was canceled after a tornado ripped through Albany.
The hunt brings in thousands of dollars for Quail Forever and the local economy.
"It's a lot of work, lot of money. And Quail Forever is trying to bring that back. We give all the money that is raised this weekend to folks who need it," explained Walters.
Hunting grounds take endless maintenance, from planting pines to training dogs.
The money the organization raises goes right back into Southwest Georgia. The group gives a large percentage to local Wildlife Management Areas.
Quail Forever also teaches new and inexperienced hunters about how to hold the gun and gun safety. They introduce today's youth and out of towners to the art and fun of hunting quail.
"Quail hunting has a major economic impact on Southwest Georgia," explained Bobby McKinney, the chairman of Albany's Convention and Visitor's Bureau and past president of the Southwest Georgia Quail Forever Chapter. " We are known as the quail capital of the world and for a good reason."
When hunters come for the weekend, they spend time and money in the area.
"They go back home and tell everyone, hey I got to hunt at this piece of property. It gets back to them and they want to come enjoy it the next year," said Walters.
He said everything from stores, hotels and even restaurants like his own feel the benefits of having such a big group in town.
The invitational also gives plantation owners a chance to show off the land they work so hard to preserve.
"Not only is this a quail hunting event, it's a way to market Southwest Georgia and the entire quail hunting industry," said McKinney.
The group will hunt during the day and enjoy a banquet at night, filled with prizes and silent auctions.