Albany: Quail Capital
This region, from Thomasville to Albany, is home to large plantation properties dedicated to agriculture and the promulgation and survival of the bobwhite quail. Albany is home to the annual Quail Albany Conservation Hunt, which attracts hundreds of celebrities and outdoor enthusiasts each year. It is the fast flying and beautiful bobwhite quail that draws sportsmen and celebrity personalities from the worlds of sports, music and film to gather in Albany (locals pronounce it All-been-ie) for the Quail Albany Celebrity Conservation Hunt each January. The 28th annual hunt will commence on January 23, 2014, for the 27th consecutive year in Albany.
The Celebrity Conservation Hunt was actually founded by Quail Unlimited, a now defunct wildlife conservation organization in the mid-1980s. The first hunt was actually held on a private plantation near Newington, Georgia, in Screven County. It was moved to Albany the following year, primarily because of the large number of available hunting plantations in that area. After all, it takes a great deal of property, volunteer help and organization to move more than 100 quail hunters to and from more than 30 hunt locations used during the event.
This “Quail Capital” region of Georgia is home to scores of magnificent plantation properties, many purchased by wealthy businessmen for winter retreats and hunting. It is common to find employees on these properties who represent the third, fourth and fifth generations of their families to work there.
The bobwhite quail, known as the "Gentleman of Gamebirds," thrives in this part of the state because the habitat is as perfect for the bobwhite quail as can be found anywhere: large agricultural fields of corn and soybeans; wiregrass for cover and brooding; live oaks and expansive stands of longleaf pine and a temperate climate are just what the bobwhite quail needs to survive. And when you consider that these lands are managed for the birds and other wildlife, landowners are doing their part to maximize the potential of their land for agriculture and wildlife.
Over the years, the celebrity-driven event has hosted hundreds of well-known personalities who donate their time to raise much-needed funds for wildlife conservation. Some of the more notable names that have attended the event include actors Ben Johnson, Dub Taylor, Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing) and Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing); sports stars Ryan Klesko, Bobby Richardson, Bo Jackson, Greg Norman, Vince Dooley and Pat Dye; military heroes Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf and Gen. Chuck Yeager; Grande Ole Opry stars Grandpa Jones, Jim Ed Brown and Little Jimmy Dickens. Of course, there are hundreds more unnamed here, but rest assured, the celebrity list is a long one.
Written by Marty Fischer
Photography by Terry Allen