HILTON, Ga. – You don’t expect to see a massage parlor in an old grain silo.
But there it is at one end of the camp for Country Goes Huntin’, complete with dirt floor (although some carpet has been put down), a hole in the peak with a fan attached to keep the interior cool, a dusty massage table in the center of the round room, and a small lamp with a low-wattage bulb for ambience.
Elsewhere around the camp, there’s an oyster hut, a few buildings and a stage for impromptu performances that might come up in the evenings.
“We got a little saying – leave your ego at the gate,” said Tim Knight, a taxidermist and hunting pro who’s been coming to Country Goes Huntin’ for years. “You might be a celebrity singer outside of that gate or a professional hunter, but once you come inside this gate, you’re just Joe Turkey. And we’re all here to do one thing and that’s to raise money for people who are less fortunate than us.”
For years, Country Goes Huntin’ has combined the talents of hunting experts and country musicians to raise money for local and national charities. During the day, hunters and musicians hunt for turkey and at night there’s usually acoustic music. At the end of the three-day invite-only hunt, they throw a concert for the public. Proceeds from ticket sales go to charities.
For the past four years, the charity concert has been held at the campsite in Georgia. Teaming up with the Toadlick Music Festival, the concert is returning to Dothan this year. It will be held Sunday at the National Peanut Festival Fairgrounds. Gates open at 1 p.m.
“We have actually never sent out a formal invite, it’s just strictly a word of mouth,” said Sam Klement, owner of Spectrum Outdoors and one of co-founders of the event.
Klement and country musician Rhett Akins, childhood friends from Valdosta, Ga., started the event 11 years ago. They had no expectations. They just thought it would fun to hunt and raise money for charity.
“The main thing is people have a lot of fun and there are no egos,” Akins said.
Akins said fans will get a chance to hear some of their favorite country songs from the people who wrote them. Among just three of the songwriters at this year’s Country Goes Huntin,’ including Akins, are at least 30 No. 1 hits.
Hal Shaffer of Drop Zone TV has been participating in Country Goes Huntin’ as one of its hunting pros for four years.
“It’s the roots,” Shaffer said of the event. “It is the roots of what country music is. It is the roots of what hunting is. And it all comes here together.”