Berkshire sportsmen/environmentalists lose a champion

Local sportsmen and environmentalists were saddened to learn that George Hamilton, Jr. of Lenox passed away last Sunday. His obituary in the December 30, 2013 Berkshire Eagle lists many of his accomplishments. Here are a few more. He was a well known sportsman who had a passion for rabbit hunting with beagles and was a long time member of the Berkshire Beagle Club. He frequently took top prize in the rabbit hunts put on by that club and the Lenox Sportsmen’s Club. I heard that he and his wife Cecilia had a rabbit and wild mushroom recipe that one would die for.
He was also an expert turkey hunter and was one of the best turkey callers around. He and his son George “Gige” Hamilton III, gave area seminars on the art of calling in wild turkeys. The first time I met him was at one of these seminars. He was also a long time member of the Alford Brook Club; he helped to get the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited established in its early days, he was a key member of the local Ducks Unlimited Chapter and was a teacher and served on the Advisory Board of Pleasant Valley Sanctuary. He was recognized by the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen which named him the 1999 Sportsman of the Year. He was nominated to receive that award by just about every outdoor sportsmen’s club in Berkshire County.
In the 1970’s, I was one of many who benefitted from the new Environmental Science program that he helped set up at Berkshire Community College. It definitely changed our ways of thinking about how we should treat our natural resources. When he retired from his teaching position there in 1995, BCC officially named his room after him in his honor. I could go on and on listing his many accomplishments.

He was a close personal friend and an esteemed member of the ROMEO’s (Retired Old Men Eating Out), a group of older sportsmen who get together weekly for lunch. Our condolences go to Cecelia and family. He will be missed. *****

In its December 19 meeting, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited presented John Burns of Framingham with its most prestigious award, the Crook Staff. This award is presented to the person who best exemplifies the ideals of TU, those being the conserving, protecting and restoring of North America’s coldwater fisheries and their watersheds In his own words, he was born “a naturalist like a fish out of water; in the suburbs of Boston.” He quickly learned his place through camping and fishing trips with his family and committed to escaping to the wilds of Vermont and western Mass when he had the chance. This came to fruition during his undergraduate studies at Middlebury College in Vermont, and later in graduate school at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, NH.

Having been at the YMCA Camp Becket in Becket, MA for over 30 years, Burns became familiar with all that the Berkshires had to offer and considered everything from Stratton Mountain to the CT border his backyard. While trying to settle in the area, he taught science, math and computers at The Academy at Charlemont. He has worked devoutly with Trout Unlimited in the four chapters which cover this region as well as the Deerfield River Watershed Association and many river studies with both the States of MA and VT. He is currently on the Board of Taconic TU and serves as the Vice Chair of Environmental Affairs for the MA/RI TU Council. He built a great web site for the Council and the resources are available to all of the chapters in both states. A botanist with New England Wild Flower Society, Burns’ conservation work in rare plants covers all over New England.

The similarities of Burns and Hamilton are interesting. Both were born near Boston, both were educators, both loved and could live off of the land, both commanding the respect of local sportsmen, both loved the flora and fauna that inhabited our earth. Let’s hope there will always be people like them. *****

Incidentally, the Berkshire Beagle Club on Sleepy Hollow Road, Richmond will be having its annual bunny hunt next Saturday. The entrance fee is $10 and includes a game dinner which follows the 4:00 PM check-in deadline. No Hunting is allowed on the club’s grounds. Prizes will be awarded for the largest hare and largest cottontail. To register contact: John Demary 413-441-2253 or 413-684-2228. *****
This year’s Cheshire Rod & Gun Club Truckload of Goodies Raffle winners were: First Prize – Truckload Winner – Marty Becker of Hinsdale, 2nd Prize – 10 lbs Roast Beef & 1 Liter Captn Morgan – Phil Hiser of Lee, 3rd Prize – 10 lbs Fresh Ham and 1 ltr Jack Daniels – Jim Loughman of Adams, 4th Prize – 20 lbs Turkey and 1 Ltr of Wild Turkey – Carol Fortier of Lanesboro, 5th Prize – 1/2 ltr of Kahula.- Carl Deluce of Pittsfield. Good time to pay them a visit

Questions/comments: Phone/fax: (13-637-1818).

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