The Grand National Quail Hunt was born by an idea from Gov. Henry Bellmon.
Gov. Henry Bellmon and others attending a 1966 antelope hunt in Wyoming talked about holding a celebrity quail hunt in Oklahoma to expose industrial leaders to the state.
The story goes that Gov. Bellmon was chatting by a campfire on a cold, fall night in Wind River Range, Wyo., with Dr. E.E. Chambers of Enid and Chuck Palmer of Oklahoma City about the famed One Shot Antelope Hunt in which they had just participated.
Gov. Bellmon observed that Wyoming’s antelope were almost as plentiful as Oklahoma’s quail, and he wondered, “Why couldn’t Oklahoma have a celebrity-type quail hunt?”
That initial 1967 Grand National Quail Hunt included about 20 members of the Grand National Club.
Today, the club is limited to 150 dues paying members, all business and community leaders in Oklahoma.
This year will mark the 44th anniversary of the Grand National Quail Hunt. Celebrities and dignitaries register on Tuesday and get to hunt several ranches around Enid for three days.
On Friday night there will be an awards reception at the Cherokee Strip Conference Center.
In its 44-year history, the Grand National Quail Hunt has brought some famous celebrities to northwest Oklahoma: Lee Majors, Hank Thompson, Roy Clark, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Roy Rogers, Dub Taylor, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Dale Robertson, Johnny Bench, Slim Pickens, Robert Stack, Robert Fuller, Ray Price.
The hunt doesn’t attract a big-name group of entertainers like it once did.
J.Brandon Harvey, an attorney in Enid and one of the organizers of the Grand National Quail Hunt, thinks it’s partly because of today’s political climate in Hollywood.
“It’s not as cool to be a hunter as it once was,” he said.
But the hunt still attracts an impressive group of guests.
This year’s guest list includes former NBA player Jon Koncak, retired NFL player Nick Bebout; entertainers Jim Garling, Edgar Cruz and Byron Berline; President/CEO of AgriConnect Bill Boone; Director of Partnerships and Programs for Remington Outdoor Foundation Carl J. Brown, Sr.;
CEO of Triad Biometrics Scott Coby; President of Hunters Mexico, David Collis; novelist Stephen Coonts and retired NFL player Dave Butz, just to name a few.
Also, former Army Ranger and host of ESPN’s Grateful Nation, Tim Abel, is returning this year and bringing along two decorated veterans to participate in the hunt.
It’s amazing this celebrity hunt has lasted for 44 years. The primary purpose of the Grand National Quail Hunt is to showcase northwest Oklahoma’s wildlife and hunting, Harvey said.
“It began as a celebration of quail,” Harvey said. “We have a good line of guys making sure it keeps going.”