Jester steps down as BCLS President


At the February meeting of the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, Mark Jester, its long time president, announced that he had stepped down effective January 29.  The reason given was that he had been promoted within the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and his title will be District Manager for the Mountain District, which will encompass Greylock, Savoy, Clarksburg and Mohawk State Forests.  He will be the outreach person for DCR for the Northern Berkshires.  Part of the condition of his employment required him to step down from a number of boards, including the BCLS.  He thanked the dedicated delegates for helping him over the past 20 years saying that it had been a great pleasure to work with and for them. He received a standing, hearty round of applause from the delegates.  League VP Mike Kruszyna, of Cheshire, will be handling the day-to-day happenings and requirements of the League until a new president is elected.  Jester offered to help Kruszyna in any way as well as future presidents and board members. So is Jester’s departure a big deal?  You bet it is.  The BCLS is the umbrella organization for a dozen or so local sportsmen’s clubs which are made up by nearly 4,000 members.  Jester, of Pittsfield, had been League president for the last 20 years, which could arguably be called its “golden era”.  Although the smallest county sportsmen’s league in the Commonwealth, it is common knowledge that under Jester’s leadership, it became the most powerful one.  That is the feeling shared by the Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council, MassWildlife officials, Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), sister organizations and politicians.  He was the League’s outspoken champion of environmental, conservation and sportsmen’s related issues.  He has received numerous local and statewide awards for his dedicated work on behalf of the sportsmen. So is Jester’s departure a loss for the League and a gain for DCR?  Yes!  But there is a silver lining.  We have a most knowledgeable and qualified District Manager in charge of those state forests, something in which sportsmen, hikers, and other State forest users can take comfort.  We wish him all the best in his new venture. ***** The Lee Sportsmen’s Association will be conducting a basic pistol course at the LSA clubhouse on Monday, February 29 and Monday, March 7.  The cost is $100.00.  Contact Larry Karlquist at 442-7807 to sign up. *****


The Lenox Sportsmen’s Club President’s Day rabbit hunt was cancelled due to the weather.  It was too rough on the dogs, hunters and the bunnies.*****


First-time hunters who wish to purchase a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license must complete a Basic Hunter Education Course.   Such a course is scheduled at the Lee Sportsmen’s Association on March 15 and April 2.    Classes on March 15 run from 6 to 9:30PM and on April 2 from 8AM to 3PM.  Both class sessions plus Independent Study is required to successfully complete the course.  To enroll, call (508) 389-7830. *****


In October, 2014 Joseph Toole, owner of the Hampton Inn in Lenox, placed a conservation restriction (C/R) on 111 acres of land behind the Hampton Inn, 445 Pittsfield Lenox Road in Lenox.  It was named the LFX Brian Toole Wildlife Preserve in memorial to his brother Brian who devoted his entire career to wildlife conservation.  The Lenox Land Trust (LLT) was designated the holder of the C/R which borders other protected land.  Have you ever wondered what that conserved land looks like?  Well, on February 24 and February 27 from 10 AM to noon, the LLT is sponsoring free snowshoe hikes weather and ice thickness permitting.  LLT Board members Ken Kelly and Kate McNaulty-Vaughan will lead those hikes.    If you wish to attend, you are urged to call (413)329-9678 the evening before or morning of the event if conditions are questionable.  Park and meet behind the Hampton Inn. *****

Are you an aspiring taxidermist hungry for expert guidance and training?  Well, award winning taxidermist Wayne Rodd from Southampton, MA  passed on some information about a taxidermy seminar coming up on Saturday, March 19 at the Double Tree Bradley International Airport Hotel at 16 Ella Grasso Turnpike in Windsor Locks, CT.  Conducted by the New England Association of Taxidermists (NEAT) it is open to anyone interested in taxidermy who wants to improve on their knowledge and skill level from novice, to the true craftsman and woman of the industry.  New members are always welcome.  The NEAT can be found on its website or facebook page.


Matt Marulli, receiver of many awards will conduct the hands on seminar.  Whether you are beginner or a seasoned taxidermist looking to take it to the next level this workshop could be for you. Bring any mammal you want to work on (coyote or smaller, no squirrels) and they will work on it together.  From eye sets, installing noses to form alterations they can cover whatever you want.


The cost is $150 per person, limited to 15 people and lunch will be provided.    The class will run from 8AM to 5PM.    Anyone wishing to attend can contact Matt at 203-734-3263. Cutoff date is March 5.  A 50% deposit will be required to hold your spot.  As the event gets closer they can discuss your piece and what to bring. Some materials may be provided.  Incidentally, the NEAT show will be held at the same hotel in June.  Arrangements to attend or compete in June can also be made through Marulli.


There is something special about mounted trophies.  Not just for bragging rights but they serve as reminders of special moments in one’s life. We have some excellent taxidermists in our area, but they aren’t getting any younger.  This may be a great opportunity for new folks to take up this much needed trade.

Westfield River’s Keystone Arches – Gems in our back yard


Say, did you happen to read DFW Western District Manager Andrew Madden’s fine article in the most recent issue of the Massachusetts Wildlife magazine dealing with the Westfield River Keystone Arches?   The pictures were magnificent and so was the article.  Those granite arches truly are gems in Western Mass. They were built in the 1840’s when the Western Railroad was extended out through the Berkshires.

Due to the serpentine course, the arches cross the river 10 times and are wholly dry laid, not a drop of mortar was used in them.  Some of them are no longer used because new bridges were built when they relocated part of the line.

For the longest time, they could only be reached by trespassing and walking along the railroad tracks which follow the West Branch of the Westfield River between Bancroft (part of Middlefield) and Chester, MA.   But recently a 2.5 mile hiking trail was constructed to two bridges abandoned in 1912 which are wholly on the property of the MA DFW (Walnut Hill Wildlife Management Area).

There is much more information on the arches in Madden’s article and also on a web site

Coincidentally, a close friend (Fred Rugo, from Rhode Island) and I were there the same week that the article came out.  He had heard about the arches and asked me to take him there to view them and perhaps fish while we were there.   Because we were in a hot weather spell (80 degrees by 11:00 AM), I couldn’t assure him that the fishing would be all that great.  Instead, we fished the Housatonic River in Lee that morning and later on went to visit the arches.

At the time I was unaware of the above referenced hiking trail and we entered off of Middlefield Road in Chester near the twin arches area.  While there we saw two teen aged boys fishing the holes near the trestles.    It was good to see that kids enjoying the outdoors during their summer school vacations and were not stuck in front of a computer screens.  We asked one kid if he caught any trout and he did.  He went upstream to retrieve the fish that he had stashed in a cold water hole to preserve them.   We couldn’t believe the size of one of those rainbow trout, it had to be 17 inches long and the second one was well over a foot long, also.  He was so proud of those fish, and rightly so.

Guess I had better start fishing that stretch again next year, although it is not the easiest place to get at, especially as you go upstream a ways from Chester toward Middlefield.  As I recall, in some places you have to be part mountain goat in order to get to the river some 65 or 70 feet below the arches.  *****

We all have been seeing what is happening in California what with the drought they are currently experiencing.  Things are getting so bad that the rivers and reservoirs there are being de-watered.   In the eastern part of Massachusetts they are also having some problems with water shortages.  This issue was addressed in the latest newsletter from MassWildlife in an article entitled:  Sustainable stream flow, balancing the needs of fish and people.

The article states that because both fish and people need water, the DFW is playing an important role to ensure that stream flow needs of fish are considered in the water withdrawal permitting process.  DFW has been participating in Sustainable Water Management Initiative (SWMI) stakeholder meetings providing input on revisions to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Water Management Act.  Working with DEP, state agencies, water suppliers, environmental advocates, industry representatives, and concerned citizens have crafted a framework designed to ensure a balance between both human and environmental needs for stream flow. The framework describes the methodology for defining Safe Yield in each of the state’s 27 watersheds and how stream flow criteria will be applied by DEP when issuing Water Management Act permits.

From the largest bass to the smallest minnow, fish and fish habitats benefit from protected stream flow. This in turn benefits anglers who pay for fish and wildlife conservation through fishing license and equipment purchases. SWMI’s proposed Water Management Act revisions are designed to prevent past extreme conditions such as occurred in the Ipswich River: dry river beds and dead fish. The current Water Management Act revisions recognize how critical stream flow alterations can negatively affect fish communities.  At the same time, the proposed revisions continue to ensure water availability for the needs of people.*****


The American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, VT (next to the Orvis store) has announced a program entitled, Angling & Art: The Confluence of Passions. Art and the sport of fly fishing have been intimately connected throughout history and remain so today; from angler Winslow Homer to naturalist James Prosek, artists have captured the magic and chronicled the heritage of fly fishing for centuries.

This year, Angling & Art takesplace through the month of July and will be held in its nationally recognized Gardner L. Grant library located at 4070 Main Street in Manchester.  We are also invited to an informal artist workshop with artists George Van Hook and Dave Morse on Saturday, July 26 from 1-3 p.m.  For more information, click onto its web page *****

Concerned about ticks and the possibility of getting infected by them?  I received a couple of e-mails from readers giving information on an informational website (  It lists 7 types of ticks here in the US along with pictures, geographic locations, diseases transmitted by them and the symptoms, how to avoid them, how to remove them and more.  Check it out.