Remembering Margaret Beckwith

Local outdoor sportsmen and women were saddened to learn of the loss of Margaret Beckwith of Great Barrington recently at the age of 81. Although Margaret was well known in politics (formerly a Great Barrington selectwoman for 12 years and heavily involved in state political issues), I wish to focus on her outdoor sports achievements. Along with her husband, the late Ernest Beckwith, Margaret ran the Beckwith’s Sport Shop in Gt. Barrington.


For 42 years, she served the sportsmen of Berkshire County by voluntarily running a deer and turkey checking station for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW).   One can only imagine how many thousands of deer she checked in over those years.  She even checked in a deer that Governor William Weld shot while hunting with MA Fish & Wildlife Board Chairman George “Gige” Darey.


She was the recipient of the 1994 Berkshire County League of Sportsmen Silvio O. Conte Sportsmen’s Appreciation Award.


She served many years as the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen (BCLS) Secretary and helped various organizations raise thousands of dollars through her outstanding sales of raffle tickets.  She was an honorary member of the Stockbridge Sportsmen’s Club, a member of the Great Barrington Fish & Game Club and the Izaak Walton League of America.  She was again selected to receive another Conte award, this time the 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award.   In presenting the award, then BCLS President Mark Jester stated: “She has been a valuable advocate of hunting and fishing and someone who sportsmen and women can be proud of to represent their causes”.


She stepped down as League Secretary on October 6, 2005.  (It was my great honor to replace her).

Ellie Horwitz, retired Massachusetts DFW Chief of Information and Education, and Executive Editor of, Massachusetts Wildlife quarterly magazine knew Margaret through her dealings with the deer and turkey check stations. “She was one of a kind… a unique and dynamic woman!  We are fortunate to have gotten to know and work with her. She was an amazing character!”

BCLS President Mike Kruszyna had this to say about her:  “Margaret was a force of her own and when she believed in something she would put her entire being into that cause.  She forever supported the outdoor/hunting sports.  She will be sorely missed by so many”.

On a personal note, I really liked Margaret.  In her later years, when she became a resident of Fairview Nursing Home in Great Barrington, I always made it a point to stop and see her when I was in South County.  She kept up with the activities of the BCLS, local sportsmen, latest deer harvest statistics, etc.  We had great chats.  I can tell you that her support of the outdoor sports and sportsmen never faltered.

Basic hunter education courses


First-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education course.  This course is designed for first-time hunters and is standardized across North America.


The following local Basic Hunter Education courses are scheduled as follows:  East Mountain Sportsman Club, 312 Henderson Road, Williamstown, MA.  The dates are April 10, 14, 17, 21, 24 & 28.  They run from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.   You must attend all class dates and times to successfully complete the course.

If you are interested in this course and wish to enroll, call 508-389-7830.  Students are enrolled first-come, first-served, and enrollment cannot be processed via email.


Trapper Education Course

Lets face it, there are times when we need an animal trapperWell, Trapper Education is mandatory in Massachusetts for Problem Animal Control (PAC) agents and first-time trappers in order to apply for a Massachusetts trap registration number.

The MassWildlife Hunter Education Program offers three to five trapper education courses each year in different locations across the state, usually in the spring, summer and fall.  Participants may need to travel a longer distance in order to attend this course. Upon successful completion, graduates will be mailed a Certificate of Completion recognized in all U.S. states.

For those who need to complete the mandatory homework assignment for a class or wish to simply review course content, there is a free online option. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) offers a free tutorial known as the North American Trapper Education Program which covers all the information in a typical Trapper Education course. Additional trapping information is available on AFWA’s Furbearer management page  including documents on Best Management Practices for trapping in the U.S.

These are the 2017 Trapper Education Courses being offered this spring:

The Auburn Sportsmen’s Club, 50 Elm Street, Auburn, MA, will be having classes on March 23 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm and April 8 from 8:00am to 5:00pm. (two class sessions).  The Spencer Fish & Game Club, 155 Mechanic Street, Spencer, MA, will have classes on April 26 from 6:30pm to 9:30pm and on May 6 from 8:00am to 5:00pm. To enroll in either class, call

(508) 389-7830.


Fly Fishing Film Fare


On March 2, the Taconic Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be hosting the Fly Fishing Film Fare at the Barrington Brewery & Restaurant in Great Barrington, MA.  Doors open at 6:00pm and the films start at 7:00pm. There will be an intermission and refreshments and food are available. There will be a raffle for a handmade fly rod and other door prizes.  Tickets can be obtained from any Taconic TU Board Member for $13 or on-line at:  Tickets will cost $15 at the door.  For more information contact: Bill Travis at or John Burns at


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