Gene Chague: George Hamilton Jr. remembered fondly; John Burns honored



Local sportsmen and environmentalists were saddened to learn that George Hamilton, Jr., of Lenox, passed away last Sunday. His obituary in The Eagle's Dec. 30, 2013, edition lists many of his accomplishments. Here are a few more:

He was a well known sportsman who had a passion for rabbit hunting with beagles, and was a long time member of the Berkshire Beagle Club. He frequently took top prize in the rabbit hunts put on by that club and the Lenox Sportsmen's Club. I heard that he and his wife Cecilia had a rabbit and wild mushroom recipe that one would die for.

He was also an expert turkey hunter and was one of the best turkey callers around. He and his son, George "Gige" Hamilton III, gave area seminars on the art of calling in wild turkeys. The first time I met him was at one of these seminars. He was also a long-time member of the Alford Brook Club; he helped to get the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited established in its early days; he was a key member of the local Ducks Unlimited Chapter; and was a teacher and served on the Advisory Board of Pleasant Valley Sanctuary. He was recognized by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, which named him the 1999 Sportsman of the Year. He was nominated to receive that award by just about every outdoor sportsmen's club in Berkshire County.

In the 1970s, I was one of many who benefited from the new Environmental Science program that he helped set up at Berkshire Community College. It definitely changed our ways of thinking about how we should treat our natural resources. When he retired from his teaching position there in 1995, BCC officially named his room after him in his honor. I could go on and on listing his many accomplishments.

He was a close personal friend and an esteemed member of the ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out), a group of older sportsmen who get together weekly for lunch. Our condolences go to Cecelia and family. He will be missed.


In its Dec. 19 meeting, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited presented John Burns of Framingham with its most prestigious award, the Crook Staff. This award is presented to the person who best exemplifies the ideals of TU, those being the conserving, protecting and restoring of North America's coldwater fisheries and their watersheds.

In his own words, he was born "a naturalist like a fish out of water, in the suburbs of Boston." He quickly learned his place through camping and fishing trips with his family, and committed to escaping to the wilds of Vermont and Western Mass. when he had the chance. This came to fruition during his undergraduate studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, and later in graduate school at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, N.H.

Having been at the YMCA Camp Becket for more than 30 years, Burns became familiar with all that the Berkshires had to offer, and considered everything from Stratton Mountain to the Connecticut border his backyard. While trying to settle in the area, he taught science, math and computers at The Academy at Charlemont. He has worked devoutly with Trout Unlimited in the four chapters which cover this region, as well as the Deerfield River Watershed Association and many river studies with both the states of Massachusetts and Vermont.

He is currently on the Board of Taconic TU, and serves as the vice chair of environmental affairs for the Mass./Rhode Island TU Council. He built a great web site for the Council, and the resources are available to all of the chapters in both states. A botanist with New England Wild Flower Society, Burns' conservation work in rare plants covers all over New England.

The similarities between Burns and Hamilton are interesting. Both were born near Boston; both were educators; both loved and could live off of the land; both commanded the respect of local sportsmen; both loved the flora and fauna that inhabited our earth. Let's hope there will always be people like them.


Incidentally, the Berkshire Beagle Club on Sleepy Hollow Road in Richmond will hold its annual bunny hunt next Saturday. The entrance fee is $10, and includes a game dinner which follows the 4 p.m. check-in deadline. No hunting is allowed on the club's grounds. Prizes will be awarded for the largest hare and largest cottontail. To register, contact John Demary at (413) 441-2253 or (413) 684-2228.


This year's Cheshire Rod and Gun Club Truckload of Goodies Raffle winners were:

First Prize: Truckload Winner - Marty Becker of Hinsdale, Second Prize: 10 pounds of roast beef and 1-liter Captain Morgan - Phil Hiser of Lee; Third Prize: 10 pounds of fresh ham and 1-liter Jack Daniels - Jim Loughman of Adams; Fourth Prize: 20 pounds oft urkey and 1 liter of Wild Turkey - Carol Fortier of Lanesborough; Fifth Prize: 1/2-liter of Kahlua - Carl Deluce of Pittsfield. Good time to pay them a visit.

To reach Gene Chague:,
or (413) 637-1818.


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