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Bowles: Quail Unlimited facing financial woes

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- Bill Bowles, president of Quail Unlimited, seemed upbeat Monday, considering what he'd come to say. At a meeting of the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club, he delivered the good news: That QU, under its new management is more responsible, and mindful of its chapter members across the nation. The bad news: The mountain of debt that must be addressed by the national leadership.

Bowles said that mismanagement at its former location in Edgefield, S.C., and its "passive board" had ultimately placed the finanical burden on the organization.

The extent of the problem was discovered to be "right about $226,000," Bowles said. In addition, $880,000 in "vendor debt" was said to exist.

According to Bowles, each chapter of QU raises money on various local events throughout the year. Forty percent of the money raised at those events is to be returned to the local chapters. This was not being done, Bowles said, and caused "a lot of upset people."

Overspending was a big problem as well, according to Bowles. The office building was 12,000 square feet -- three times the size of the Albany building, which is ready for occupation at the Potter Community Center complex.

"There were way too many employees and assistants, too, and all that was a big waste of money," he said.

Earlier this year, Bowles had hoped that Quail Unlimited would be purchased by Safari Club International Fund, a much larger outdoor-oriented organization, thus solving the debt problem. SCIF will co-sponsor the first annual EPIC Outdoor Game Fair near Atlanta in September and had initiated an interest in purchasing QU.

"They (SCIF) told us they wanted to help, and suggested we partner an event," Bowles said. "What kind of event was up to me and it took me 48 hours to figure it out."

Bowles had always been impressed by the British concept of a "game fair," he said, and thought that might be a partial answer to the debt issues. Ultimately, Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club near Atlanta was selected.

But though the two organizations were sharing an event, SCIF declined the acquisition of QU because of the untested game fair concept.

"This is an awesome thing," Bowles said. "The idea of springboarding from a national event like the game fair in September to The Fall Feather Hunt in October. So I was shocked and disappointed when they (the SCIF board) said no."

Bowles still believes in the new event and thinks it can do a lot to build Quail Unlimited and the Albany area. He said he believes that quail can do for Albany what the Masters Tournament has done for Augusta.