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Quail Albany Foundation takes over celebrity hunt

New conservation organization keeps Albany heritage alive

Country star Mark wills will headline Saturday’s country concert at the Albany Civic Center, which will wrap up the first Quail Albany Celebrity Conservation Hunt event. Tickets for the show are available to the general public at the Civic Center box office. (Special photo)

Country star Mark wills will headline Saturday’s country concert at the Albany Civic Center, which will wrap up the first Quail Albany Celebrity Conservation Hunt event. Tickets for the show are available to the general public at the Civic Center box office. (Special photo)

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Quail Albany President Bill Bowles said the organization will utilize 100 percent of funds raised at the first Quail Albany Celebrity Conservation Hunt event locally. (Albany Herald file photo)

ALBANY — To make it perfectly clear, the Jan. 22-25 Quail Albany Foundation Celebrity Conservation Hunt has nothing — repeat, nothing — to do with Quail Unlimited.

The latter organization no longer exists.

But the celebrity hunt and fundraiser has everything to do with the newly organized Quail Albany Foundation. And the well-known president of that organization is excited about the change.

“We’ve been doing a celebrity event in Albany for the last 27 years,” Quail Albany President Bill Bowles said days after the group became the latest local chapter of the national Quail Forever conservation group. “But as far as we are concerned, this is year one.”

Bowles, who previously served as national president of QU, said there was never a question in his mind that the Quail Albany chapter would host a celebrity hunt in the unchallenged quail-hunting capital of America.

“We knew we would be starting at zero, but (a celebrity event) was too much a part of our heritage not to do one,” Bowles said. “This was important to our organization and an important way of showcasing the beautiful properties that are in our area. So we made the decision to get to work, to start making phone calls.

“And because of a lot of people’s tireless efforts, Quail Albany is making this happen.”

The QA Celebrity Conservation Hunt event, which kicks off with the second annual Quail Classic golf tournament at Stonebridge Golf and Country Club on Jan. 22, includes two days of hunting at local plantations (Jan. 24 and 25) and wraps up Jan. 25 with a concert headlined by country star Mark Wills, will be familiar to past participants because the weekend’s format is similar to the 27 other celebrity events.

But there is one major difference in Year One of the QA Conservation Hunt that marks it as a unique opportunity for the local chapter.

“This event is going to benefit Quail Albany, not a national organization,” Bowles said. “Every dollar will stay in our community. One of the beautiful things about belonging to the Quail Forever organization is that 100 percent of money raised at every event sponsored by a local chapter stays with that chapter. The only money submitted to the national organization is $35 (annual) membership fees, and for that you get a nice magazine four times a year.”

Since Quail Albany will utilize all funds raised at the Celebrity Conservation Hunt, Bowles said the local chapter has come up with a unique plan through which proceeds will be utilized. Fifty percent of all money raised will be used to sustain the Quail Albany Foundation, 20 percent will be donated to the Future Farmers of America organization, 20 percent will be presented to the Southwest Georgia Tall Timbers Research Station located between Thomasville and Tallahassee, Fla., and the final 10 percent will be divided equally by the American Cancer Society and the local Quail Forever chapter.

“We believe we can sustain the Quail Albany Foundation with 50 percent of the funds raised, so the question became what do we do with the other 50 percent?” Bowles said. “FFA is a deserving organization, and Georgia has the country’s third-largest enrollment behind Texas and California. Tall Timbers is widely responsible for quail research in our region, and every person has been touched by cancer so there is no more deserving organization than the American Cancer Society.

“The 5 percent earmarked for the Albany Quail Forever chapter will be used for habitat work at Silver Lake, Elmodel and Chickasawhatchee wildlife management areas.”

Bowles assures supporters QA will be transparent in its fund distribution.

“The proceeds will come from every component of the fundraiser, from raffles to auctions to hunt sponsorships to patrons’ donations,” he said. “Our books will be audited and open for anyone to see where every penny went.”

The Budweiser-sponsored golf tournament at Stonebridge kicks off the QA event on Jan. 22, and Bowles said persons or businesses interested in giving back to the community can sponsor a veteran in the tournament or in the QA Celebrity Sporting Clays Tournament Jan. 23 at Albany’s Flint River Skeet and Trap Club. The Bruners Landowners’ Appreciation Evening will be conducted at Stonebridgeon Jan. 23.

Celebrity hunts at local plantations start at 7:30 a.m. Jan. 23 and 24 with a conservation dinner, prestigious live auction and entertainment planned for Jan. 24 and a night of country music scheduled June 25. Georgia native Mark Wills, whose eight Top 10 country hits include “Jacob’s Ladder,” “Back at One,” “19 Something,” “Almost Doesn’t Count” and “Places I’ve Never Been,” will headline Saturday’s concert. Wills will be joined by special guests Gannon Adams and Leah Seawright.

“For this to work, the community has to make it work,” Bowles said. “Those who can’t pay $300 to be a benefactor can still come to the Civic Center Saturday for Mark Wills’ first show here. For only $20 a ticket, or $25 on the day of the show, you’ll have a night of great music and you’ll still be a part of this event. If we want to have a prestigious quail hunting event in Albany, our time is now.

“I firmly believe the only way our event will be able to sustain itself is for the public to support it. Our community cannot sit on the sidelines; this is an opportunity to help keep something very important to us. We need for this to go well so that we can make it bigger the next year and the next. It’s not just that this is a huge boost for Albany and Southwest Georgia’s economy — although it is — it’s that we can all help shine a positive light on our community. This is our opportunity to look back and say we helped start something big.”

Tickets for the Jan. 25 concert are available at the Civic Center box office, while information about the sporting clays and golf tournaments, as well as benefactor package information, is available by calling (229) 431-2934 or emailing tbowles@quailalbany.org. General information is available at the Quail Albany website: quailalbany.org.