Gene Chague: Jester steps down as BCLS President

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At the February meeting of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Mark Jester, its longtime president, announced that he had stepped down effective Jan. 29.

The reason given was that he had been promoted within the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and his title will be District Manager for the Mountain District, which will encompass Greylock, Savoy, Clarksburg and Mohawk State Forests.

He will be the outreach person for DCR for the Northern Berkshires. Part of the condition of his employment required him to step down from a number of boards, including the BCLS.

He thanked the dedicated delegates for helping him over the past 20 years, saying that it had been a great pleasure to work with and for them. He received a standing, hearty round of applause from the delegates.

League VP Mike Kruszyna, of Cheshire, will be handling the day-to-day happenings and requirements of the League until a new president is elected. Jester offered to help Kruszyna in any way as well as future presidents and board members.

So is Jester's departure a big deal? You bet it is. The BCLS is the umbrella organization for a dozen or so local sportsmen's clubs which are made up by nearly 4,000 members.

Jester, of Pittsfield, had been League president for the last 20 years, which could arguably be called its "golden era." Although the smallest county sportsmen's league in the Commonwealth, it is common knowledge that under Jester's leadership, it became the most powerful one.

That is the feeling shared by the Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council, MassWildlife officials, Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), sister organizations and politicians. He was the League's outspoken champion of environmental, conservation and sportsmen's related issues. He has received numerous local and statewide awards for his dedicated work on behalf of the sportsmen.

So is Jester's departure a loss for the League and a gain for DCR? Yes! But there is a silver lining. We have a most knowledgeable and qualified District Manager in charge of those state forests, something in which sportsmen, hikers, and other State forest users can take comfort. We wish him all the best in his new venture.

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The Lee Sportsmen's Association will be conducting a basic pistol course at the LSA clubhouse on Monday, Feb. 29 and Monday, March 7. The cost is $100. Contact Larry Karlquist at 442-7807 to sign up.

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The Lenox Sportsmen's Club President's Day rabbit hunt was cancelled due to the weather. It was too rough on the dogs, hunters and the bunnies.

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First-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education Course. Such a course is scheduled at the Lee Sportsmen's Association on March 15 and April 2. Classes on March 15 run from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and on April 2 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Both class sessions plus Independent Study is required to successfully complete the course. To enroll, call (508) 389-7830.

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In October, 2014 Joseph Toole, owner of the Hampton Inn in Lenox, placed a conservation restriction (C/R) on 111 acres of land behind the Hampton Inn, 445 Pittsfield Lenox Road in Lenox.

It was named the LFX Brian Toole Wildlife Preserve in memorial to his brother Brian who devoted his entire career to wildlife conservation. The Lenox Land Trust (LLT) was designated the holder of the C/R which borders other protected land.

Have you ever wondered what that conserved land looks like? Well, on Feb. 24 and Feb. 27 from 10 a.m. to noon, the LLT is sponsoring free snowshoe hikes weather and ice thickness permitting. LLT Board members Ken Kelly and Kate McNaulty-Vaughan will lead those hikes.

If you wish to attend, you are urged to call (413) 329-9678 the evening before or morning of the event if conditions are questionable. Park and meet behind the Hampton Inn.

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Are you an aspiring taxidermist hungry for expert guidance and training? Well, award-winning taxidermist Wayne Rodd from Southampton passed on some information about a taxidermy seminar coming up on Saturday, March 19 at the Double Tree Bradley International Airport Hotel at 16 Ella Grasso Turnpike in Windsor Locks, Conn.

Conducted by the New England Association of Taxidermists (NEAT), it is open to anyone interested in taxidermy who wants to improve on their knowledge and skill level from novice, to the true craftsman and woman of the industry. New members are always welcome. The NEAT can be found on its website or Facebook page.

Matt Marulli, receiver of many awards, will conduct the hands on seminar. Whether you are beginner or a seasoned taxidermist looking to take it to the next level, this workshop could be for you. Bring any mammal you want to work on (coyote or smaller, no squirrels) and they will work on it together. From eye sets, installing noses to form alterations, they can cover whatever you want.

The cost is $150 per person, limited to 15 people and lunch will be provided. The class will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Anyone wishing to attend can contact Matt at 203-734-3263. Cutoff date is March 5. A 50 percent deposit will be required to hold your spot. As the event gets closer, they can discuss your piece and what to bring.

Some materials may be provided. Incidentally, the NEAT show will be held at the same hotel in June. Arrangements to attend or compete in June can also be made through Marulli.

There is something special about mounted trophies. Not just for bragging rights, but they serve as reminders of special moments in one's life. We have some excellent taxidermists in our area, but they aren't getting any younger. This may be a great opportunity for new folks to take up this much needed trade.

Questions/comments: Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com. Phone/fax: (413) 637-1818


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