Another good one has left the building -- and the field.
Environmental Conservation Officer Doug Case suffered heart complications more than 16 months ago and has been off duty since.
But his professional presence at the Department of Environmental Conservation Region 9 headquarters building on Michigan Avenue and his legendary field coverage did not end officially until an afternoon gathering Nov. 17 at the DEC Maintenance Center Meeting Room in Little Valley.
About two dozen of his fellow officers (active and retired), key fish and wildlife personnel, family and a few good friends got together and formally said farewell to Case. During his 20-year career, he was known to good- and bad-guy hunters, anglers and trappers throughout Region 9's six counties -- and often known to violators he encountered on assignments east of the region.
He developed a reputation as an officer who was both a by-the-book professional when it came to violations and a helpful friend to outdoors enthusiasts when his directions and suggestions could improve a fishing, hunting, or any other outdoors activity.
His neat appearance and work attitude contributed to his professional presence.
While tracking a possible deer violator on the other side of a bog, or pulling planer board lines out of the way to check Lake Erie trollers, he always looked as though he were modeling proper enforcement clothing.
During his retirement gathering he commented, "While at work for the DEC, every day was a pleasure."
He had served as an officer with other agencies before starting as an ECO in 1984.
His youthful goals also contributed to his demeanor. "I wanted to be an ECO since I was a small boy," he told Little Valley luncheon attendees.
He also attributed much of his success to the support of his wife, Val. The couple recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. "Through the years, she endured the many late arrivals for dinners -- and a few family gatherings missed altogether," he said.
Once able to dodge the long arms of fellow retired officer James Rackl on the racquetball court, Case now has to stay heart healthy and confine his energies to perch outings at Sturgeon Point whenever possible.
Most conscious of the brevity of our lives as outdoors enthusiasts, he shared with those gathered this concluding comment: "Life is right now."
Big game getters
Elma hunter Jon J. Nies traveled to Malta, Mont., in early November to hunt for mule deer on Matt McCann's 30,000-acre ranch.
Nies bagged a 7-by-5 mulie (rack points, left side and right side) with a 340-yard shot. His deer dressed out at 268 pounds with an estimated 320 live weight, the largest mule deer -- by both weight and rack configuration -- taken at the McCann ranch.
Young hunters prevailed during a southeast Colorado elk hunt near Weston on the third rifle season in early November.
Erik Skinner, 17, hunting with dad Richard, and with cousin David, both of Boston, downed 5-by-5 bull elk. Dave Pfeffer of East Eden, the only "elder" in the six-hunter group, later connected with a 5-by-5 bull.
Deer hunters have had successes with many types of calls, but Quaker Boy's new The Pipe, Doe and Fawn Bleat is proving to be a major head turner in deer fields this season.
The doe-bleat function attracts bucks still in the late-rut phase. The fawn bleat sound attracts interest from both does and bucks. To check on this and other QB calls and hunting accessories, go to: www.quakerboygamecalls.com.
The correct site for viewing big deer taken this season with Northern Whitetail Scents: www.northernwhitetail.com.