Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Mass. Sportsmen's Council honors Robert McCarthy

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When Bob McCarthy, of Williamstown, walked into the American Legion Post in Sutton last Saturday evening, he was looking forward to a tasty meal, winning a few raffle items and honoring a deserving recipient or two at the Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council's annual awards banquet.

The Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, which is a member of the MSC, purchased a table at the event and four of us were to be seated at it (Bob, Dan Lawson, of Williamstown, Steve Grimaldi, of Adams, and I). Bob was pleasantly surprised when his daughter and son-in-law Talitha McCarthy-Johnson and Kyle Johnson, of Hancock, showed up and joined us at the table.

The MSC is celebrating its 90th anniversary of serving sportsmen by preserving wildlife habitat and our outdoor sporting heritage, and we were there to help them celebrate it.

Never heard of the MSC? Well, it is the umbrella organization for outdoor sportsmen and women across the state. Many individual sportsmen join local sportsmen's clubs; many of those clubs belong to a county league of sportsmen; many of the county leagues belong to the MSC. So, if you are a Lenox Sportsmen's Club member, for example, your interests are being lobbied for on Beacon Hill by the MSC.

Getting back to the banquet, it wasn't until everyone was seated at their tables that the announcement was made that McCarthy was named the Sportsman of the Year.

He was nominated by the East Mountain Sportsmen's Club, as well as the BCLS.

Here are some of the words that EMSC/BCLS President Wayne McLain wrote about Bob when he nominated him: "(Bob) is the BCLS's delegate to the MSC. He exemplifies what a person of true character is. A caring family man, sportsman, conservationist, and environmentalist, Bob was a founding member of the East Mountain Sportsmen's Club (in Williamstown).

"One of his most impressive accomplishments was when, as a young man in his twenties, along with his friend Bob Kaufman, he became a founding member of the Hoosic River Basin Citizen's Protective Association. We can all thank the efforts of this association for stopping and then beginning the clean-up of the pollution in the Hoosic River.

"Through this association, Bob worked to help push through legislation to establish the Fish Kill Response Team. This team investigates the causes of fish kills that occur in our waterways to then help prevent them. All of you fisherman out there owe your ability to enjoy your sport to this team's hard work.

"Bob has been a member of the BCLS for many years. He was selected for the League's Sportsman of the Year Award in 1987. If a team leader or mentor for any issue is needed, Bob McCarthy is the man to count on. Even now, in his seventies, he is still a leader among us (Currently serving as the BCLS Vice President). (He continues to) push hard to get State Government to approve the Crossbow Bill to allow everyone to have the right to use a crossbow for hunting."

A plaque was presented by Mike Moss, MSC President Emeritus and John Kellstrand, MSC President, to Bob which read: "Given with recognition of his many years of service to the sportsmen of Berkshire County and his leadership on issues affecting sportsmen throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

A State Senate Resolution was also presented to Bob by State Sen. Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). Congratulations to Bob McCarthy, a most deserving recipient.

Other award recipients that evening: The R.L. Gribbons Award went to Peter Bernard, of Swansea, who is the MSC Secretary and Bristol County League of Sportsmen President; the Hall of Fame Award went to Kenneth Brown and Frank Leonardo, both of the Massachusetts Bowhunters Association; and the Special Recognition Award went to John "Jack" Sheppard , who is retiring as Director of Fishing & Boating Access after 46 years.

The Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs Matt Beaton gave a few words for the gathering. Also, Ross Kessler, Public Access Coordinator, spoke at length about access to salt water fishing and how the money that is raised through the salt water fishing permit system is used.

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Bowhunter Education Courses

On Sunday, May 5, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., a bowhunting education course will be conducted at the Becket Town Hall, located at 557 Main St.. This course was developed by the International Hunter Education Association and National Bowhunter Education Foundation. It is designed for novice and experienced hunters, and topics include the selection of equipment, bowhunting safety, and bowhunting laws. To enroll in this course, call 508-389-7830, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Students under the age of 18 must have written consent from a parent or guardian to attend this type of course. A parent or guardian should be present at the start of the student's class to complete the student's registration form, or the student can bring a signed permission form with them to the start of their course.

Bowhunter education is not required in Massachusetts and a Bowhunter Education Certificate does not qualify you to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license. The certificate is accepted in other jurisdictions (i.e. other states such as Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Rhode Island, etc.) that do require archery hunters to show proof of having completed bowhunter education. All courses are free of charge and open to the public.

Trout stocking

The following local water bodies were scheduled to be stocked last week: Chickley River in Charlemont and Hawley; Cold River in Charlemont and Florida; Deerfield River in Buckland, Charlemont and Florida; Green River (North) in New Ashford and Williamstown; Hemlock Brook in Williamstown; Hoosic River (North) in Clarksburg and North Adams; Hoosic River (South) in Cheshire and Adams; Housatonic River (C&R) in Lee and Stockbridge; Housatonic River (Southwest) in Pittsfield; Hudson Brook in Clarksburg and North Adams; Littleville Reservoir in Huntington; Town Brook in Lanesborough; Westfield River (East) in Cummington, Chesterfield and Huntington; Onota Lake; and Stockbridge Bowl.

Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp

The Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp teaches campers a variety of outdoor skills, including fishing, hunting, shooting sports, boating and camping. Campers even become certified in Hunter Education and Small Boat Safety.

The camp also aims to educate campers about conservation of natural resources and responsible use of the environment. Natural resource professionals from state agencies provide hands-on experiences and demonstrations and lead discussions on wildlife, fisheries, and forest management. In the evening, campers participate in demonstrations of outdoor recreation topics.

Boys and girls aged 13 to 17 years old who enjoy outdoor activities and want to learn more about the environment are eligible to attend. Enthusiastic outdoorsmen and women today will become tomorrow's leaders in safeguarding our outdoor heritage.

The Lee, Lenox, Pittsfield and Stockbridge Sportsmen's Clubs, as well as the BCLS, reserve slots for campers and sponsor interested teens by paying their full camp tuition. MJCC also offers scholarships. All that is needed are kids to fill those slots. I believe the clubs still have some openings. If one club has already filled its slots, it checks with the others to see if they have any openings. Often prospective campers only need write a letter that explains why they want to attend camp and what they want to learn.

The camp is located at the Horace Moses Scout Reservation, 310 Birch Hill Ave. in Russell. The dates are August 4-16. The tuition, which is $950 for the full two weeks, covers lodging expenses, food, and activities.

Learn more about the program on the MJCC website https://www.mass.gov/service-details/junior-conservation-camp, or call 508-450-5120. The website should answer just about all of the questions that parents may have. If interested, contact one of the above sportsmen's organizations for more information.

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


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