EDISON -- When 9 a.m. rolls around today, you'll likely find Quail Country Plantation General Manager Bill Bowles with a huge smile across his face.
That's because this morning at Bowles' renowned hunting fields in Edison, the 4th annual Quail Unlimited Youth Hunt will take place, bringing young hunters ages 12-18, along with an adult companion, from five different states to take part in a rapidly growing event.
"During the year, the different chapters of Quail Unlimited that are within driving distance of Georgia hold auctions for this great package that not only teaches kids the correct and safe way to hunt for quail, but helps raise money to keep these local chapters thriving throughout the country," said Bowles, who has seen the event more than double in participation since 2006. "We had about eight hunters the first year and there will be around 18 here this year. Every (kind of tandem) from father and son, to father and daughters to grandparents and grandkids, have taken part. They make friends with the other hunters and members and it creates relationships that likely will last a lifetime."
This year, hunters from Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and even a father-daughter duo from Virginia are taking part in the two-day event, which Bowles hopes will give the young, aspiring hunters a newfound respect for nature, the work done by the bird dogs and the birds themselves.
"We start off with a safety course, they learn the correct, safe way to be in the woods and handle a shotgun, and then they're off to hunt," said Bowles, whose plantation also hosts one of the biggest hunts of the quail season, the Quail Unlimited Celebrity Quail Hunt, that takes place in Southwest Georgia in January each year. "The conditions are great this year, and we look forward to another great event that's sure to create many lasting memories."
While the hunting field was set in advance, Bowles said anyone interested in joining the hunt either today or Sunday can call Quail Country at (229) 725-4645 and he'll do "everything in our power to get you out here and participating."