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Country Goes Hunting may visit Illinois

November 17, 2008 at 11:09 PM

CHANDLERVILLE—Some of the top names in country music and the hunting industry could be coming to central Illinois next year for the state’s first-ever “Country Goes Huntin’ ” deer hunt and benefit concert.

“It’s very exciting. It’s something I’ve wanted to do, to shine a positive light on central Illinois and the hunting industry and what it’s all about,” said Ben Plattner of rural Petersburg, owner of Timberland Outfitters Inc.

Timberland is expected to host the charity event, part of a series founded by professional hunter Sam Klement and country music star Rhett Akins, whose hits include “That Ain’t My Truck,” “Don’t Get Me Started,” “She Said Yes” and “Friends With Tractors.”

The tentative date for the archery deer hunt is the first week of November 2009. Talks about the concert are taking place with representatives of the Prairie Capital Convention Center, Plattner said.

Akins, Klement and others have been staying this week at Plattner’s hunting lodge near Chandlerville, working out event details and doing some bow hunting.

“I just write what I know. I write about where I came from—rural settings and farm settings,” Akins said. “The majority of people who listen to country music grew up on farms. They drive tractors. They hunt. I guess that’s why my songs probably don’t appeal that much to people who grew up in the city.”

A lifelong outdoorsman, Klement has hunted everything from boar and elk to bear and moose. He’s been featured in major outdoor publications, gives seminars at hunting shows and holds five U.S. patents for popular hunting products. Klement also is on the national pro staffs for Hunter Specialties, Muzzy, Realtree and ThermaCell.

Childhood friends from Valdosta, Ga., Klement and Akins created “Country Goes Huntin’” seven years ago, with the idea of combining their passions to help others.

Since 2001, “Country Goes Huntin’” has raised more than $500,000 from ticket sales, online and silent auctions, and other sources, Klement said.

Proceeds are divided among the artists’ and hunters’ favorite causes, such as Wheelin’ Sportsmen, a National Wild Turkey Federation program that provides people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities; the Georgia Outdoor Network Seeds Program; the Enterprise (Ala.) High School band; and Wiregrass Children’s Home in Dothan, Ala., among others.

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