Gene Chague: Many honored at annual BCLS Conte Banquet

Sunday April 28, 2013


Approximately 150 people attended the 29th annual Berkshire County League of Sportsmen Silvio O. Conte Memorial Sportsmen's Banquet which was held last Saturday evening at the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club.

Award winners included: Michael Buffoni of Stockbridge, 2012 Sportsman of the Year; Karen Kruszyna of Cheshire, Lifetime Achievement Award; The Berkshire Natural Resources Council, the Sportsmen's Appreciation Award; and Mike Moss, President of the Mass. Sportsmen's Council, the new John Zuber Award.

They were nominated by the various sportsmen's clubs which make up the BCLS. All of the recipients were selected because of their longtime dedication and commitment to preserving our open spaces, or fighting for sportsmen's rights or their willingness to teach future generations about the outdoors and outdoor sports. Their individual feats were highlighted in my March 24 column.

In his acceptance speech, Moss spoke about how he was truly humbled and honored to receive the Zuber Award. He spoke of how John fought his whole life to uphold the sportsmen's way of life while protecting our wildlife and rich resources. He noted that John took the lead in getting people out of doors, and left footprints for us all to follow. He spoke of the great friendship that the two of them had developed over the years while serving on the Mass Sportsmen's Council.

BCLS President Mark Jester stated that, although she is not that old, Kruszyna has accomplished so much in such a short time that it would be considered a lifetime achievement for others. In accepting her award, Kruszyna stated that she was grateful that her parents got here interested in the outdoors and grateful for the opportunity to help the local sportsmen and BCLS in getting kids out of doors fishing.

Referring to the BCLS Youth Outreach Fishing Day, she said, "These are kids who would never have such an opportunity. That makes them better kids at the end of the day."

She loves taking kids, any kids, outdoors.

Tad Ames, Executive Director of the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, accepted the award on its behalf. He praised Narain Schroeder for his work in putting the land deals together; former Executive Director George Wislocki, for starting the whole conservation movement in the Berkshires; and others. Most of all, he thanked the landowners for their "ethic and compassion" to preserve the open spaces, for without them, the protection of more than 8,000 acres in Berkshire County would not have happened.

He cautioned us that as time goes by, more and more pressure will be brought to bear to take land away and use it for other purposes. "Make sure," he said, "that these endowments stay intact and remain available for conservation and enjoyment."

In introducing Michael Buffoni, Jester commented that when his name was received as a possible recipient for Sportsman of the Year, no one else was even considered. That's an indication as to how much respect his fellow sportsmen have for him and his many accomplishments in getting kids involved with outdoor sports.

After a standing ovation, receiving the award and citations from the State Senate and House of Representatives, Mike said that he was overwhelmed and honored to follow in the footsteps of those who got him involved in outdoor sports. He specifically named Sean Smith, Tim Minkler, Gary Johnston, Martin Salvadore, John Mange, Skip Whalen, Chuck Jones, George Darey and the late Ernie Beckwith, all well known and highly respected local outdoor sportsmen. He also thanked his parents, wife and family for their support.

He commented that he was only 5 years old when he attended his first Skip Whalen Ice Fishing Derby. He is now its co-chair, helping other kids get to enjoy the derby and other outdoor sports.


The Pittsfield Sportsmen's Club will hold a venison steak dinner this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Luau Hale Restaurant on the Pittsfield-Lenox Road. Tickets are $25. Contact Ed at (413) 443-9371, Fran at 443-5133, or Mike at 822-1959.


Weather and equipment permitting, the following local waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week: Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida, Westfield River in Chester, Huntington, Middlefield, Russell and Worthington; Housatonic River in Dalton, Hinsdale, Lee and Stockbridge; Swift River in Ashfield and Goshen; Pelham Brook and Pelham Lake in Rowe and Charlemont, Konkapot River in Monterey and New Marlborough; South River in Ashfield; Sackett Brook in Dalton; Stones Brook in Goshen; West Brook in Great Barrington; Beartown Brook and Greenwater Brook in Lee; Yokun Brook in Lenox; Dunbar Brook in Monroe; Sackett Brook in Pittsfield; Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge; Goose Pond Brook in Tyringham and Lee; Ashfield Pond, Greenwater Pond, North Pond, Upper Highland Lake, Littleville and Norwich Lakes in Huntington; Lake Garfield, York Pond and Otis Reservoir.

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


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