Wyoming Governor Matt Mead attended the Grand National Quail Hunt for the first time earlier today in Enid, Oklahoma. According to the Casper Star-Tribune, it is not considered an official trip and Mead paid for his own expenses.

The Grand National Quail Hunt, now in its 47th year, is not an easy hunt to get into. In addition to being invite-only, the hunt includes only a handful of new shooters every year. According to tulsaworld.com’s Kelly Bostian, who is attending as a special guest, there will be only 53 hunters this year. Of that number, 31 will be past shooters, 16 new hunters, and six special guests, including three Wounded Warrior participants.

The idea for the Grand National Quail Hunt was conceived during another famous event: Wyoming’s One-Shot Antelope Hunt. In 1966, three Oklahoma hunters—including former Oklahoma Governor Henry Bellmon—decided to form a national quail hunting tournament after Bellmon remarked that the abundance of antelope in Wyoming reminded him of his native state’s quail.

The hunt traditionally draws celebrities and notable hunters, counting names such as Craig Boddington among its past shooters. Historically, Oklahoma’s current governor is also invited.

“There is nothing else like it – no other place where a participant can join with a select fraternity of sportsmen and celebrities dedicated to the enhancement of the long-standing game bird hunting traditions of America,” the Grand National Quail Hunt’s website states.

According to the Enid News and Eagle, the hunt is believed to be the third-oldest hunting competition in the United States, after the One Shot Antelope Hunt and Nebraska’s One Box Pheasant Hunt.

“This hunt was organized as an economic development tool to showcase northwest Oklahoma for business,’’ said Brad Blankenship, President-elect of the Grand National Quail Club. “We have some Oklahoma Department of Commerce people coming in. We’re very encouraged about potential prospects for business.’’

Image from Torrey Wiley on the flickr Creative Commons

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