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November 14, 2013

Sport clay shooting: Quail hunt brings notables to Enid

ENID, Okla. — Grand National Quail Club north of Enid was a busy place Thursday morning, as the annual Grand National Quail Hunt sport clay shooting contest took place.

Hunters gathered in teams and took turns shooting clay pigeons with varying success. It’s all part of the annual quail hunt, which for the past 47 years has brought sports personalities, celebrities and business leaders to Enid.

One of the new shooters at the quail hunt this year is Dave Owen, a partner in LodgeWell, which is building a new hotel in downtown Enid.

LodgeWell has several projects ongoing, including ones in Russellville, Ark., and downtown Muskogee, in addition to the Enid hotel project.

“LodgeWell is a new company, and we’re fortunate to have this many projects already,” Owen said.

Owen, an experienced hunter, said he started hunting with his father at age 6. He grew up quail hunting and said the Grand National is a great event.

“I think its a tremendous thing for the city of Enid to host people from all over the country and introduce them to Enid. As a future business owner here, it makes me excited about Enid,” Owen said.

Owen hunted Wednesday and had a good day, he said. There were lots of birds, terrific dog work and a great group to hunt in, he said.

Owen’s business career spans a number of areas, including banking, investment banking and real estate. He is owner, chairman and CEO of two banks in Johnson County, Kan., one of which he personally chartered. He also was co-chairman of a real estate brokerage firm in the area. He is a former state senator and lieutenant governor of Kansas and chairman of the Kansas Republican Party. He served as campaign chairman for U.S. Sen. Bob Dole in his races for the U.S. Senate and in his 1976 bid for the presidency.

A special guest shooter this year is Republican Gov. Matt Mead, of Wyoming. Mead is a guest of Grand National President Brad Blankenship.

He is serving his first term as governor and is a farmer and rancher, and former special prosecutor. He said there are many similarities between Wyoming and Oklahoma. Both states are rich in minerals and have large agricultural bases.

“We are a huge energy state, minerals are our biggest import,” he said.

Both states are conservative, with heavy Republican representation in political offices. Wyoming unemployment now is about 4.6 percent. The state has a population of about 507,000 with between $16 billion and $17 billion in various savings accounts.

“We are financially secure,” he said.

Mead said he enjoys being in Enid because of the commonalties between the two states.

“I could be in any town in Wyoming, and it would be about like this,” Gov. Mead said.

People in Wyoming have many of the same issues people in Oklahoma have, and Mead has the sense people in Oklahoma are not shy about sharing their views, just like people in Wyoming.

“And, they both share a great deal of pride in their state,” he said.

An avid hunter, Mead said his hunting has been curtailed since he became governor. He enjoys big-game hunting like elk, deer and antelope. Although hunting birds is new for him, he finds he enjoys it and especially likes to watch the dogs work.

“I’m fascinated by the way they work,” he said.

Mead has confidence in the future of the oil business. Whether during the oil boom of the 1970s or 10 years ago, people could not imagine the technological advances that have made the business so much better, he said.

“There are more opportunities. Fracking has been around for a long time and horizontal drilling is a great example of technology,” Mead said.

The University of Wyoming is studying core samples and now using CAT scans to study the effects of fracking.

The Grand National Quail Hunt began in Enid in 1967. Past shooters have included prominent names in American sports, entertainers, artists and private and corporate business people.

A hunters’ breakfast is scheduled this morning at Best Western Inn, and the final day of hunting is today. An awards reception will be 6 tonight at Enid Symphony Center.

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