Berkshire Woods and Waters: Locals honored at Silvio O. Conte Awards Banquet

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There was a nice crowd at the Silvio O. Conte Awards Banquet at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club last Saturday night to honor the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen 2018 award winners. Past President, Mark Jester, did his usual yeoman's job as emcee. Virginia Dubois, Jason Sniezek, Jane Winn and Lou Robesch received awards and for more information about person's achievements, look to my Berkshire Woods and Waters column from March 31.

The banquet was also dedicated in honor of George "Gige" Darey. who passed away in December. There was a moment of silence for Gige before the festivities began.

Massachusetts Fish & Game Commissioner, Ron Amidon, gave a short talk about the statewide trout stocking program and the great shape the fish are in this year. He mentioned proposed legislation of interest to the outdoor sportsmen, particularly the "archery setback" change. This change would allow the state's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife to manage wildlife in places where it hasn't been able to do so up to now. Excessive deer density is not a problem here in the Berkshires, but from Route 495 east there is a lot of wildlife, and DFW is having a difficult time managing the population because of the existing setbacks. If they are able to change the setbacks in many of the eastern communities, it will help control the deer herd, as well as open up huntable land.

Virginia Dubois, of Lee, received the Sportsmen's Appreciation Award for support, dedication and preservation of the outdoor shooting sports, hunting and fishing. She thanked the BCLS, the Lee Sportsmen's Association officers, the Board of Directors, all of the coaches and the Gala Fundraising committee.

"I couldn't do what I enjoy doing so much without all of your help and support," Dubois said. "I truly get back much more than I give when I see the friendships that I have made and see the smiles on the children's faces at the wonderful programs that we are so grateful to be able to offer at the LSA."

Jason Sniezek, of Adams, received the Outstanding Achievement Award for his efforts to introduce the youth of Berkshire County to the vast wonders of the outdoors. He thanked the BCLS, CR&G and particularly Mark Jester and Karen Kruszyna, who were instrumental in introducing the National Archery in the School program to Hoosac Valley. He said that this program is a very rewarding class to teach, and that students embraced it and enjoyed getting out into the woods. Discussing some of the highlights, the class was a very rewarding for him and he hopes he can continue that in the future and make it better.

Jane Winn, of Pittsfield, received the Lifetime Achievement Award (the award was not just for Jane, but also for her husband, Bruce, for BEAT and its team of volunteers). It was awarded for the years of work preserving open space, majestic ridge lines and vulnerable wetlands and streams within Berkshire County. Jane, in her acceptance speech, said that "this award means so much to me. BEAT's mission is protecting the environment for wildlife and I think a lot of the times environmental groups don't really understand your (outdoor sportsmen's) depth of support of wildlife and the part that you all do."

Incidentally, much of Jane's staff that evening was at the other end of the state accepting an environmental action award. If I may interject, this shows the importance of BEAT and the wonderful work it does to be receiving awards from environmentalists in the eastern, and from sportsmen in the western part of the state, on the same evening.

Louis Robesch, of Pittsfield, received the Sportsman of the Year Award for his lifelong dedication and leadership to the sportsmen and the youth of Massachusetts. In introducing Robesch, Mark Jester commented that Lou's been a hunter education instructor for 45 years and has taught in Pittsfield and beyond. In accepting the award, Lou thanked "all of the Berkshire County sportsmen for presenting me this award. I really appreciate it very much and accept it with the most gratitude."

Trout stocking

The following local waters were scheduled to be stocked with trout last week. Rivers and Brooks: Clesson Brook in Ashfield and Buckland; South River and Swift River in Ashfield; Potash Brook in Russell and Blandford; Westfield River (East Branch) in Savoy, Windsor, Cummington and Chesterfield; Westfield River (Middle Branch) in Cummington, Worthington, Middlefield and Huntington; Westfield River (Mainstem) in Huntington, Montgomery and Russel; Swift River in Cummington and Goshen; Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton; Wahconah Falls Brook in Dalton; Stones Brook in Goshen; Windsor Brook in Hinsdale; Hop Brook in Lee and Tyringham; Goose Pond Brook in Lee; Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee and Stockbridge; Trout Brook in Peru; Buck and Clam Rivers in Sandisfield; Larrywaug Brook in Stockbridge; Windsor Brook in Windsor; and Trout Brook in Worthington. Lakes: Pontoosuc Lake, Greenwater Pond, Laurel Lake, York Lake and Norwich Pond in Huntington.

Fishing Derby

The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation in Hartsville-New Marlborough is having a free children's fishing derby on May 11, from 9-10:30 a.m. at its lower pond. Children aged 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Wild Acres Fishing Derby

The free Wild Acres Fishing Derby for children ages 14 and under will take also take place on May 11, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Bait will be provided, and a limited amount of fishing poles will be available for use on a first come, first serve basis to those who do not own one.

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Trophies will be awarded at 12 p.m. to those who catch the largest fish (length & weight).

The event is hosted by the City of Pittsfield Parks and Recreation Commission with volunteer support provided by the Onota Fishing Club, which will assist with dressing fish, providing fishing tips and techniques, baiting, and more. Anyone from the community who needs accommodations for handicapped vehicle access is asked to contact 413-822-2193.

Art of Concealed Carry

On Thursday from 5-9:30 p.m., the Lenox Sportsmen's Club is hosting a Gun Owner's Action League training entitled the "Art of Conceal Carry." Conducted in the main clubhouse upstairs, it costs $90, and you must be a GOAL member to attend. To become a GOAL member or renew your membership, head to https://goal.org.

The program is a four-hour concealed handgun seminar designed for individuals who are currently carrying a concealed firearm or those who are considering firearms for self-defense. Please contact Shawn Sullivan at ssullee@icloud.com with any questions or for more information.

Coyote Listening Session

In response to concerns about coyote hunting contests, MassWildlife is holding a listening session on Thursday at the Mohawk Regional High School, located 26 Ashfield Road in Shelburne Falls, from 6-8 p.m. The session is designed to share information about coyote management and coyote hunting regulations, and to hear input and concerns from the public.

The session is an important part of the process that MassWildlife employs when reviewing policy and regulations. As a first step in this review, the MassWildlife professional staff will examine the best available science, consult with other outside professionals, solicit input from stakeholders, and if warranted, prepare recommendations for the Fisheries & Wildlife Board to consider.

This is the second in a series of listening sessions held in the state. The first session was held in early April in Barnstable. These sessions provide more opportunities for the public to share input with MassWildlife staff and the Fisheries and Wildlife Board.

Anyone unable to attend a session can provide feedback and comments by emailing mass.wildlife@mass.gov or sending written correspondence to: MassWildlife, Attn: Coyote Feedback, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

Life Jackets

Just a reminder: In Massachusetts, life jackets must be worn by canoeists and kayakers from Sept. 15 through May 15. Youths under 12 years old, personal watercraft users, waterskiers and stand-up paddleboard users must wear them all the time.

Accidental Shooting Death

As you may be aware, there was an accidental shooting death during the Youth Turkey Hunting Day. I hope to have more information and comments on this unfortunate accident in next week's column.

Gene Chague can be reached at berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com or 413-637-1818.


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