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A Quail Hunter Who WOULDN’T Go Away

In November, I lamented a fundamental bobwhite conservation problem – most quail hunters just go away quietly, rather than stand up and work to restore their resource, their sport and their tradition.  I was not writing about Kim Price.  Kim did not, would not go away.  He tenaciously applied his skills and every means available to him to aid quail conservation until the very end.  He just succumbed to cancer at the age of 57.

Kim was a professional communicator and newspaper man, and a passionate quail hunter.  His current primary day job was as president and publisher of The Wetumpka (AL) Herald newspaper.

When the “Northern Bobwhite Conservation Initiative” (NBCI) was published by the former Southeast Quail Study Group (SEQSG) in March 2002, Kim and his brother, Tim, perceived an opportunity and an urgent need to reach new audiences with information about quail traditions, conservation and the NBCI.  On their own initiative, and at their own risk, the Price brothers promptly created a new monthly magazine devoted to bobwhite hunting and conservation, “Covey Rise,” which is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a circulation of more than 10,000.

Kim wanted to do more than just entertain quail hunters; he wanted to apply his communications skills to help the NBCI cause.  From the start, he took a professional newsman’s approach to the new magazine by seriously engaging and offering his services to the SEQSG (now the National Bobwhite Technical Committee, NBTC).  He actively participated in annual meetings of the NBTC and its Outreach Subcommittee, and solicited and readily published perspectives, management information and research findings from wildlife professionals all across the bobwhite range.  The Prices added real value to the NBCI by connecting more professional quail conservationists with more quail hunters, helping grow the conservation movement.

The NBCI conservatively estimates more than 357,000 people still hunt bobwhites (“State of the Bobwhite” report).  The potential power of so many passionate people with a presumably wide array of skills and assets could change the game for quail conservation.  But that potential power will not become actual power unless many of those people follow Kim Price’s leadership and personal example.  The NBCI provides a vision and a united strategy; but it needs the actual power of quail hunters like Kim and Tim Price to succeed.

Ironically, Kim’s last editorial – published October 2011 – highlighted concerns about quail mortality, while confronting his own.  The bobwhite quail community has lost a leader, an ally and a friend.  The world needs more Kim Prices.  Our condolences to Tim and the rest of Kim’s family.

Don McKenzie

Former NBCI Director, Don McKenzie is a product of the deep South, steeped in its cultures of hunting, fried catfish, barbeque and SEC football. He survived an abrupt transition from hip boots in South Carolina to dark suits in Washington, DC as a professional wildlife advocate specializing in agriculture conservation policy.

During 6 ½ years in DC, he engaged the community of southeastern bobwhite quail biologists, and soon became their most active representative on federal conservation policy issues. McKenzie eventually arose as a national leader for what now is recognized as arguably the largest and most difficult wildlife conservation challenge of this era—restoring huntable and sustainable populations of wild bobwhites across much of their range. He was a facilitator and editor of the original “Northern (now “National”) Bobwhite Conservation Initiative,” published in 2002, and has been the national leader for implementing the initiative since 2004.