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Quail Unlimited Going Out of Business

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February 04, 2013

Quail Unlimited Going Out of Business

By Chad Love

Big news for bird hunters: The conservation group Quail Unlimited, which has struggled mightily in recent years with financial issues, management scandals, and declining chapters, announced last week that it is closing its doors permanently. In doing so, QU officials urged its former members and anyone else concerned with upland conservation to join Quail Forever, which has acquired Quail Unlimited's mailing list.

From this story in the Albany (Georgia) Herald: 
Quail Unlimited has folded, according to an e-mail sent out late Friday afternoon from Executive Director Bill Bowles, abruptly ending the national organization's existence. Our great staff and our great Board of Directors have stood the test and they have given their very best effort. However, the entire Board of Directors and I have made the difficult decision to cease Quail Unlimited operations and go out of business effective immediately," Bowles said in an email sent out Friday afternoon...."There are a few large challenges that we are about to be faced with," Bowles said in his first email. "Could we possibly overcome them? We might be able to, but it would require money that we do not have and it would be a huge distraction from our basic purpose—- Quail & Youth. I'm left to reflect on how best to accomplish those goals in light of QU's end, which leads me to recommend Quail Forever as the future of quail conservation in America."

In response, Quail Forever sent out this press release Friday afternoon:
In an effort to keep a group of passionate quail hunters and conservationists engaged in the cause, Quail Forever has purchased the Quail Unlimited mailing list. In addition, the Quail Unlimited name, logo, and website are being permanently retired. Today, quail and quail hunters now boast the largest group and loudest voice ever assembled with Quail Forever, Quail Unlimited and Pheasants Forever’s collective membership. We intend to take the full power of this voice to Washington, D.C. as we fight for strong conservation policy in the new Farm Bill, as well as at the state & local level as our chapters work with local farmers and governments to improve America’s landscape for quail, pheasants and other upland wildlife.

It's always said to see a conservation group founded on the best of intentions fold. Quail Unlimited was the first conservation group I ever joined. Hell, the first bird dog I ever owned I got at a Quail Unlimited banquet. I thoroughly enjoyed being a member. But QU was, quite frankly, a deeply flawed organization that ultimately couldn't recover from a whole host of problems, ranging from its chapter funding model to financial scandals to the way in which the national organization was run. In recent years QU had effectively disappeared from places like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, and had pretty much been on life support everywhere else, so Friday's news came as no surprise. It wasn't a question of it, but of when. Back in 2009 the group basically fell apart amid a financial scandal and never could rise above the smoking ashes.

Quail Forever  the group that now owns QU's mailing list, is an entirely different animal altogether. As part of Pheasants Forever, QF is by far the largest hunter-based upland conservation group in the nation. It just received the highest rating possible from the nation's largest charity rating agency, its chapter funding model keeps all local money raised with local chapters (chapter funding was a huge bone of contention with local QU chapters) and on the national level I think it does more with less than just about any group out there. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a proud Quail Forever member.

I don't know how many members and chapters QU managed to hang on to in recent years, but if they stuck with the organization through all that it went through up to the very end, they must be hard-core. They care deeply about quail, but their faith in any conservation group might understandably be shaken. If my name were on that QU mailing list, however, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to join Quail Forever. The bobwhite quail needs all the help it can get right now, and if Quail Forever can quickly and effectively fill the void left by Quail Unlimited's demise, that would give the world's greatest gamebird and the bird dog's best friend a big shot in the arm.

Any former Quail Unlimited members out there? Thoughts? Reaction? Plan on joining Quail Forever?

Comments (7)

Top Rated
All Comments
from bull65JG wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I am actually a member of both. As a resident of NW Oklahoma. I am here to tell you the time to embrace Quail Forever is NOW! I live in the middle of some of the best Quail Country in America, and let me tell you we are in trouble. Join together now to help protect this Native to America bird. I know the drought has had a lot to do with the recent decline. But we need to make our voice heard and Quail Forever is the right choice to carry our voice to DC.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Wow, talk about a disgusting soap opera! I do hope you members of the other bird hunting advocacy groups take it to heart and more closely scrutinize your agency's leadership. I cannot believe this outfit actually fell under a charitable organization and was still able to pull off all that crap without anybody knowing about it. Don't they have to do some annual reporting? Shooting the messenger like that was real smart too! About the stupidest thing they could have done. Clearly demonstrated they did not want to clean things up but rather delay the inevitable long enough so the board could gobble up whatever they could. Sounds to me like they're closing the doors before legal action can be taken against them. The bright side is because it's shutting down that scoundrel CEO won't get any more of the lucrative retirement the board gave him. A couple of those guys running the outfit better give up bird hunting altogether or their health insurance (which the board also gave them as a parting gift) will drop them like a hot potato. I imagine they're gonna be at high risk for an unfortunate hunting accident if they are seen in the field.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I've only seen one wild quail in my life (I was 9 years old in Brewster NY Putnam county), I don't remember their call, though I wish I did. I haven't seen one since as they never really thrived in upstate NY. I look at this incredibly beautiful bird as a national treasure.If a trigger can never pulled on these birds again,I believe they still should be fought for.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Quail Unlimited has done a huge disservice to all the other organizations that depend on private donations. A good percentage of the interested public views all of these organizatons as becoming self serving as they grow. Their bureaucracy grows just like our self serving Fed Govt grows. Initially it is a bunch of guys deeply interested in benefiting the resource. But as the organization grows so grows the cushy jobs, and employees with very generous, and growing budgets.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from QUWF wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

QUWF was born of QU members who wanted a better plan and with rules to ensure the old problems would not occer. I disagree with your statement QF is the largest, I think the spin may be but the "turnin-the-dirt" work is just not there nor is the truth about where the money really goes. 100% of 10% is still 10%, more "real dollars" are kept by QUWF chapters than any other organization and do not have to be sent back to a central "cash management system" to be applied for by the chapter.

Our public financials show our percentage is yet better than any other organization and we do not have millions in overhead with huge salaries and benefits that takes tens of thousands of memberships just to cover. It takes 29,000 members (at $35.00) to cover each $ million in overhead and with membership shrinking, cash burn becomes an issue. Is that really what people donate dollars for? When the "business" becomes more important than the mission, all begin to have problems.

The point here, there are options and we do not think your column revealed that, with the current managment of QU now working for QF, what were they thinking? There is no regional director experience there, and much less in general business which has shown itself over the last 2 years.

One begins to wonder if there is a first warning sign in PF/QF?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spentcartridge wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Maybe I'm reading QUWF's form 990 incorrectly but the most recent filing with the IRS (2011) shows revenues for the year of $186k and salaries, other compensation & employee benefits of $81k. That's almost 50% of revenues going to overhead.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clark Groseth wrote 48 weeks 6 days ago

There I was, getting some chairs out for Saturday's bridge game when I came across the "Top Gun" award our Kansas City chapter won in 1989. (and actually some years on both sides of that as well) So I said to myself, "I wonder what's happening with QU and to good ol' Rocky Evans. Damn! I'm sorry I did. Back in those ancient days, we worked hard, had a lot of fun and hopefully did good things for habitat in both Missouri and Kansas. We didn't raise the kind of money DU did, but our numbers were significant. And we produced a video with Kansas, bought a bunch of root plows, somehow got trailer loads of out-of-date seed for food plots and probably drank a beer or two. So now the dream is over. How sad!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Wow, talk about a disgusting soap opera! I do hope you members of the other bird hunting advocacy groups take it to heart and more closely scrutinize your agency's leadership. I cannot believe this outfit actually fell under a charitable organization and was still able to pull off all that crap without anybody knowing about it. Don't they have to do some annual reporting? Shooting the messenger like that was real smart too! About the stupidest thing they could have done. Clearly demonstrated they did not want to clean things up but rather delay the inevitable long enough so the board could gobble up whatever they could. Sounds to me like they're closing the doors before legal action can be taken against them. The bright side is because it's shutting down that scoundrel CEO won't get any more of the lucrative retirement the board gave him. A couple of those guys running the outfit better give up bird hunting altogether or their health insurance (which the board also gave them as a parting gift) will drop them like a hot potato. I imagine they're gonna be at high risk for an unfortunate hunting accident if they are seen in the field.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from clinchknot wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

Quail Unlimited has done a huge disservice to all the other organizations that depend on private donations. A good percentage of the interested public views all of these organizatons as becoming self serving as they grow. Their bureaucracy grows just like our self serving Fed Govt grows. Initially it is a bunch of guys deeply interested in benefiting the resource. But as the organization grows so grows the cushy jobs, and employees with very generous, and growing budgets.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bull65JG wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

I am actually a member of both. As a resident of NW Oklahoma. I am here to tell you the time to embrace Quail Forever is NOW! I live in the middle of some of the best Quail Country in America, and let me tell you we are in trouble. Join together now to help protect this Native to America bird. I know the drought has had a lot to do with the recent decline. But we need to make our voice heard and Quail Forever is the right choice to carry our voice to DC.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

I've only seen one wild quail in my life (I was 9 years old in Brewster NY Putnam county), I don't remember their call, though I wish I did. I haven't seen one since as they never really thrived in upstate NY. I look at this incredibly beautiful bird as a national treasure.If a trigger can never pulled on these birds again,I believe they still should be fought for.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from QUWF wrote 1 year 9 weeks ago

QUWF was born of QU members who wanted a better plan and with rules to ensure the old problems would not occer. I disagree with your statement QF is the largest, I think the spin may be but the "turnin-the-dirt" work is just not there nor is the truth about where the money really goes. 100% of 10% is still 10%, more "real dollars" are kept by QUWF chapters than any other organization and do not have to be sent back to a central "cash management system" to be applied for by the chapter.

Our public financials show our percentage is yet better than any other organization and we do not have millions in overhead with huge salaries and benefits that takes tens of thousands of memberships just to cover. It takes 29,000 members (at $35.00) to cover each $ million in overhead and with membership shrinking, cash burn becomes an issue. Is that really what people donate dollars for? When the "business" becomes more important than the mission, all begin to have problems.

The point here, there are options and we do not think your column revealed that, with the current managment of QU now working for QF, what were they thinking? There is no regional director experience there, and much less in general business which has shown itself over the last 2 years.

One begins to wonder if there is a first warning sign in PF/QF?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from spentcartridge wrote 1 year 7 weeks ago

Maybe I'm reading QUWF's form 990 incorrectly but the most recent filing with the IRS (2011) shows revenues for the year of $186k and salaries, other compensation & employee benefits of $81k. That's almost 50% of revenues going to overhead.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clark Groseth wrote 48 weeks 6 days ago

There I was, getting some chairs out for Saturday's bridge game when I came across the "Top Gun" award our Kansas City chapter won in 1989. (and actually some years on both sides of that as well) So I said to myself, "I wonder what's happening with QU and to good ol' Rocky Evans. Damn! I'm sorry I did. Back in those ancient days, we worked hard, had a lot of fun and hopefully did good things for habitat in both Missouri and Kansas. We didn't raise the kind of money DU did, but our numbers were significant. And we produced a video with Kansas, bought a bunch of root plows, somehow got trailer loads of out-of-date seed for food plots and probably drank a beer or two. So now the dream is over. How sad!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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