Over 100 people attended the 28th annual Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) Silvio O. Conte Memorial Sportsmen’s Banquet which was held the evening of April 21 at the Cheshire Rod & Gun Club. Dr. Mark Tisa, MassWildlife Assistant Director from Princeton, MA, received the 2011 Sportsman of the Year Award, Bernie (Bunky) Bassi of Adams received the Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award and Michael Cutler of Adams received the Lifetime Achievement Award. They were nominated by the various sportsmen’s clubs which make up the BCLS. All of the recipients were selected because of their long time dedication and commitment to their fellow sportsmen and their willingness to teach future generations about the outdoors and outdoor sports. Their individual feats were highlighted in my March 11 column.
All of the recipients gave inspiring talks. Mike Cutler mentioned how our traditions will disappear if we don’t get kids off of the computer and into the outdoors. He made reference to the book “Last child in the woods” and how we have to save our children from “nature deficit disorder”. Bassi was embarrassed to receive his award and in fact declined it. The League would not hear of it and awarded it to him anyway, knowing full well that most sportsmen prefer to remain anonymous for what they do, and Bassi has certainly done his share.
Tisa said, “My passion is motivated by hunting and fishing. Everything I do in my job, I think about you as sportsmen and the thing that motivates me today is the protection of our fishing, our right to fish and hunt, make sure we have places to fish and hunt, and to provide opportunities for kids and women. We have this group out there of 20 – 30 year old men who never had an opportunity to hunt and fish”.
“The key to our future is to provide opportunity for them and you folks to spend as much time outdoors as possible,” he said. We are going to have some difficult challenges facing us in the future and we need you to be politically involved. We can’t do it alone.” *****