By Rob Potter
ROSCOE The Sullivan County Long Beards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held its annual banquet on Sunday, April 19 at the Rockland House in Roscoe to a soldout crowd of more than 180 supporters, followers and members.
“Welcome everyone to our seventh annual banquet,” Sullivan County Long Beards Event Chairman Hank D’Auria said. “This banquet was sold out a month ago. We really appreciate you being here and showing your support for us.”
D’Auria noted that the Long Beards had a very good year and listed some of the organization’s accomplishments and accolades.
For the second straight year, the Sullivan County Long Beards were named the No. 1 NWTF chapter in New York State. The Long Beards also had 283 kids sign up to become Jakes (youth members) of the club, which was the most of any NWTF chapter in the state.
In addition, 560 boys and girls attended the Sullivan County Long Beards’ Youth Day last September at the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville.
Furthermore, the Long Beards were the only NWTF chapter in New York State to earn five-star status. The club did so by holding the five required events in 2008: Women in the Outdoors, Wheelin’ Sportsmen, Habitat Program, Scholarship Program and Jakes Program.
Two members of the Long Beards, D’Auria and Earl “Butch” Kortright, earned individual honors during the past year. At the New York State Chapter of NWTF Annual Awards Banquet, D’Auria was named the 2008 Outstanding Member of the Year. He was given a plaque which stated that he received the award in “Appreciation of his years of dedication and unselfish service to benefit the Wild Turkey, his fellow sportsmen, the NY State Chapter and the National Wild Turkey Federation.”
Kortright, who is the President of the Sullivan County Long Beards, was given a seat on the NWTF New York State board. This appointment will allow the Long Beards to have some input at the state level.
In addition to a delicious prime rib dinner, the event featured door prizes, raffles, a silent auction and a live auction. The live auction, which featured nearly 30 items, including the 2009 NWTF Gun of the Year, a Winchester Super X3 12-gauge, was conducted by Jerry LeClar of LeClar Bros. Auction Service, LLC, of Oxford.
After dinner, the Long Beards made honorary mention of several individuals who support the group throughout the year. Those individuals were: Curtis Hodney of LandscapeTrailers.com in Ferndale; Greschler’s Hardware in Brooklyn; Rich and Sue Post of Fur, Fin & Feather Sport Shop in Livingston Manor; Wayne and Jan Meyer of Wayne Meyer Sport Shop in Livingston Manor; Dick Lambert of Dick Lambert’s Gunsmithing in Livingston Manor; Jeremy Gulley of Catskill Pheasantry in Long Eddy; Ducks Unlimited Chapter of Orange County; Dave Davis, President of the Shawangunk Long Beards NWTF Chapter of Ulster County, the Sullivan County Friends of the NRA Chapter; Ed Bacon and Dianne Sheton from Shewolf Taxidermy in Roscoe; Kevin and Grace Boyd; and Dan Millis and Bob Millis of Millis Lumber and Logging in Youngsville and “Bandsaw Bob.”
Dan Millis, Bob Millis and “Bandsaw Bob” donated the wood used to make birdhouses at last September’s Long Beards Youth Day.
Kortright awarded plaques to several people and groups who go above and beyond to help the organization throughout the year. They were: Ben Snyder and the entire staff at Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, Howard Braunstein and everyone at M&M Auto Group of Liberty, Mark Puerschner and his fellow members of Sullivan Corrections Officers Local at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Woodbourne and Karl Greer of Greer Infrastructure. He also awarded the Sullivan County Long Beards’ Secretary and Scholarship Chair Fran D’Auria with a plaque praising her for dedication to the group and “having all her turkeys in a row.”
D’Auria, on behalf of the Long Beards, awarded scholarships to two very deserving recipients. Due to the generosity and cooperation of Dave Davis, who allotted his organization’s funds from the NYS Chapter, Richard “Ricky” Franke of Livingston Manor was the second place winner of $250.
Franke, a senior at Liberty High School, will continue his education this fall at Paul Smith’s College, The College of the Adirondacks. Franke said he wants to major in Fish and Wildlife Management and his career goal is to become a Conservation Officer.
In his essay, Franke noted he and his family celebrate hunting season “as if it were a holiday.”
Brian Corcoran of Glen Spey, an Eagle Scout, declared that his grandfather Jess Haley is his “idol.” Corcoran noted that his first present from Haley was a lifetime hunting license.
Corcoran, an Eldred Central School senior who is an “A” student, received a $1,000 first place scholarship. His first place status got him entered into a contest among the top three scholarship winners throughout the state. He came away with third place in that contest, which increased the amount of his scholarship to $1,500.
This autumn, Corcoran will attend Wells College in Aurora, which is near Cayuga Lake.
Kortright also recognized several Long Beards members for their dedication to all of the chapter’s events during the past year. He did so by calling them up to the podium to receive a round of applause from the crowd. Those Long Beards members included Pete Donath, Matt Fortino, Barbara Gordon, Pat Gordon, Milo Moore and Mark Puerschner.
The Long Beards stress family togetherness and the hunting tradition. Both Corcoran and Franke are perfect examples of how a good family influence can help shape the child.
Along those lines, the Sullivan County Long Beards are holding a Youth Turkey Hunting Contest this weekend, April 25 and 26, for the Special Spring Early Youth Opening Turkey Season. The weigh-in is at Fur, Fin & Feather in Livingston Manor, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. This is open to all Sullivan County Long Beard Extreme JAKES members (membership can be purchased on site for $10).
The young hunter who takes the heaviest bird for each day will be awarded an H&R 20-gauge shotgun. The hunter who has the heaviest bird of both days will receive a free strutting mount compliments of Shewolf Taxidermy in Roscoe. The second place young hunter for both days will receive a turkey feather blanket from Shewolf Taxidermy.