Bobwhite quail and Oklahoma’s early history go almost hand in hand. The little brown
and gray speedster is mentioned frequently in chronicles of the pre-statehood era and
of the historic Cherokee Strip, Chisholm Trail, and Indian Territory. In spite of heavy
market hunting during the early 1900s, the bobwhite prevailed, and the rolling wheatlands and cattle country of Northwest Oklahoma continued to offer some of the
finest quail hunting available anywhere in the United States.
What had been the place of unique opportunity and the favorite sport of Oklahomans
soon became a mecca for “hunters in the know” throughout the country. An
ever-increasing number of avid quail hunters traveled long distances to be on hand
opening day. Enid, located in the heart of this vast area, became a favorite destination and was referred to by many as the “Bobwhite Capital of America.” Field trial competition flourished, and the seeds of a national championship quail hunt had been sown long before the Grand National was conceived.
The idea itself emerged from a most unlikely setting in the fall of 1966. Around a
campfire on a cold fall night high in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, more than 1,000 miles from Enid, United States Senator (then Governor) Henry Bellmon sat chatting with Dr. E.E. Chambers of Enid and Wendell Bever, Director of the Oklahoma Wildlife Commission, about the famed One Shot Antelope Hunt in which they had just
participated. Dr. Chambers 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?”
Those few words, spoken half in thought, gave birth to an idea that soon would be
established as an annual event and tradition in its own right. Back in Enid, Dr.
Chambers and Chuck Palmer picked up the idea and worked through the winter
developing ideas, objectives, and a basic framework. In April 1967, Dr. Chambers called a meeting of a dozen prominent Northwest Oklahoma ranchers and sportsmen where they laid out their ambitious plan to hold a national championship quail hunt beginning in November of that year. The idea received quick endorsement, and the Grand National Quail Club was formed, initially with less than 20 members. Dr. Chambers was named the first President, and Chuck Palmer was elected Hunt Director. The Grand National Quail Club continues this tradition by bringing hunters from across the United States to participate in this unique event.