Gene Chague: Pittsfield's Mark Jester honored by state sportsmen's group



The Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council (MSC) is a statewide umbrella organization serving as a strong, unified voice to preserve the rights of Massachusetts' sportsmen and women and other conservationists with a shared interest in protecting and enhancing our natural resources.

The MSC is currently comprised of 14 member organizations (The Berkshire County League of Sportsmen is one), representing approximately 300 sportsmen clubs and thousands of sportsmen and women concerned with man's fragile relationship with the out-of-doors.

It was formed in 1929 by a handful of foresighted sportsmen who recognized the need to organize under one statewide body. It laid a strong foundation by working for the creation of the independent state Fisheries and Wildlife Board, securing dedicated funding for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and guaranteeing access to the great ponds of the Commonwealth.

Today, it continues to build on that strong foundation to ensure that the future of hunting, fishing, trapping, and other forms of outdoor recreation is preserved for our children and future generations.

Last Saturday evening, at its annual Banquet and Awards Night, the MSC awarded the Raymond L. Gribbons Award to Mark Jester of Pittsfield.

This award recognizes a sportsman who exemplifies the values and respect for our natural resources that Gribbons held and demonstrated for nearly a century. Jester has been a delegate to the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) for 32 years and served as its president for 16 years.

He was an officer of the Lakewood Sportsmen's Club and is currently the Vice President of the Lenox Sportsmen's Club. He sits on the board of directors of the Gun Owners Action League, is a member of the State Zebra Mussel Committee, is a delegate to the MSC, and much more. He is the driving force in getting the Archery in the Schools Program established in our local schools. He was named the BCLS' 2000 Sportsman of the Year.

Karen Kruszyna, of Cheshire, received the Lillian Gribbons Award, which is given in recognition of the tireless efforts of a sportswoman who has dedicated her time quietly and unnoticed for the benefit of all sportsmen of the Commonwealth.

She is a member of many organizations including the Adams Outdoor for Youth (AOFY), Adams Agricultural Fair Committee and is a board member of the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club. She does much to get kids of this county outdoors. She is always there to help out at the annual Youth Outreach Fishing Derbies at Reynolds Pond in Cheshire, the BCLS functions such as the Conte Banquet, the AOFY fundraisers and more. She received the BCLS year 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Congratulations to both for the well-deserved recognition.


Recently, my wife Jan and I were away on a cruise to the eastern Caribbean area with friends Michael and Claire Shepard of Dalton. No chance for fishing off the ship, as we were on Decks 10 and 11 and traveling at a speed of 20 knots.

The only successful fishing we saw was on St. John Island near St. Thomas Island. As we walked along its shore, something whizzed over our heads and exploded not more than a dozen feet in front of us. No, it wasn't incoming mortar, but rather a pelican that slammed into the water and nailed a nice fish. It and several other pelicans had good fishing that day.

I asked a local guide if the fishing was any good in that bay, and he said yes, but one couldn't eat the fish. The cove was too shallow and contained too much salinity, so much so that the fish there were actually toxic. Fishermen had to fish outside the cove in deeper water in order to catch edible fish.

He said the only way the natives knew if a fish was edible was to cut a piece off and toss it to their dogs. If the dogs ate it, the fish was edible; if they didn't, it was toxic. Somehow the dogs knew by the smell.


While I was away, the DFW had stocked the following waters with trout through April 11: Hoosic River (South Branch) in Cheshire and Adams; Green River in Alford, Egremont and Great Barrington; Westfield River in Becket, Chester, Chesterfield, Cummington, Huntington, Middlefield, Savoy, Windsor and Worthington; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Housatonic River (Southwest Branch) in Pittsfield; Williams River in West Stockbridge; Konkapot River in Monterey and New Marlborough; Farmington River in Otis and Sandisfield; Lake Mansfield in Great Barrington; Plunkett Reservoir in Hinsdale; Windsor Lake in North Adams; and Goose Pond, Laurel Lake, Pontoosuc Lake, Onota Lake, and Stockbridge Bowl.

Subject to alterations or cancellations, the following additional waters were scheduled to be stocked last week: Ashfield Pond in Ashfield; Greenwater Pond and Yokum Brook in Becket; Walker Brook in Becket and Chester; Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton; Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton; Pelham Brook in Charlemont and Rowe; North Pond in Florida; Upper Highland Lake in Goshen; Littleville Lake in Huntington; Town Brook in Lanesborough; Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee and Stockbridge; Factory Brook in Middlefield; Dunbar Brook in Monroe; Lake Buel and Lake Garfield in Monterey; Pelham Lake in Rowe; Depot Brook in Washington; Green River and Hemlock Brook in Williamstown; and Windsor Brook and Windsor Pond in Windsor.


The Stockbridge Sportsmen's Club is offering the Ultimate Firearm License Course April 27 to benefit youth activities at the club. This one course qualifies participants to apply for licenses in Mass., Connecticut, Utah, Florida, Maine and New Hampshire, which makes them legal in 39 states. For information, visit


The Wild Acres Free Fishing Derby for children and seniors will be held Saturday at Wild Acres from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will be hosted by the Onota Fishing Club. Members will be on hand to help out participants with baiting, catching and cleaning all fish. Poles and bait will be available for all children who need them.

Trophies will be given to all participants who catch a tagged fish. Beverages, breakfast sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers will be free to all children (14 and younger) and seniors (65 and older). All participants must park in upper level at Wild Acres Pavillion. Handicap parking will be available.

Please call Robert Van Der Kar at (413) 499-9359 with any questions.


Lastly, to the mentors and youths who will be participating in the Youth Turkey Hunt next Saturday: Have a safe and enjoyable hunt.

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


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