Sullivan County Democrat
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Chapter Celebrates
The Wild Turkey

By Susan Monteleone
CALLICOON — April 2, 2004 – On Saturday, March 20, dozens of people filled the Club at Villa Roma in Callicoon for the second annual fundraising banquet and auction to benefit the Sullivan County Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.
All of the proceeds from the dinner went to support the restoration of wild turkeys in New York State and nationally. The evening’s event featured a silent auction, live auction, general raffles and side raffles.
“I have been a part of the turkey hunting aspect for many years and I love introducing the sport to younger kids and young adults,” said Hank D’Auria, one of the event’s chairpersons. “The sport of hunting is a very satisfying sport and in today’s world we need to get our kids out from the video games and into the outdoors.”
D’Auria explained that the Sullivan County Longbeards Chapter, which is now in its second year, helps with stocking and habitats for turkeys as well as educational programs.
D’Auria added that the chapter is now 48 members strong. Anyone can join the chapter; the fee is $25.
Also at the dinner was New York State 98th District Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.
“I love the sport of hunting and my family is very involved in the sport,” Gunther said. “I even have a pistol permit myself and I do support the second amendment. Hunters are not the ones committing the crimes, it is the community that commits the crimes. I believe in education of people in regards to hunting and I support the Federation 100 percent.”
Bill Tatro, the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Regional Director for Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island was also at the banquet.
“Tonight’s event is a very important event,” he said. “It helps raise funds for programs to help the turkey population grow, we build habitats for the turkeys and provide turkey relocation programs as well. There are currently 54 chapters in New York State alone. And of tonight’s funds raised, 56 percent of it stays right here.
“The federation is dedicated to the turkey and the education of the public,” he continued. “We encourage all of the chapters to host banquets like this to help their local chapters as well as the national chapters.”
Tatro also noted that the Federation also has two new programs now in effect. One is Women in Sports, which teaches women all aspects of hunting, fishing, archery, kayacking and other outdoor sports.
The other program is the Wheelin’ Sportsman. According to Tatro, the program is designed for handicapped individuals and caters to all their needs and proves everyday that even though someone may have a disability, they can still hunt.
The most popular event of the night was the raffle for the National Wild Turkey Federation Gun of the Year – a Remington 1100 .28 gauge shotgun. All eyes were on the ticket as it was drawn from the bucket. The lucky winner was Jerry Sheppard of Lake Huntington.
Plans are already in the works for the next year’s Sullivan County Longbeards dinner.

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