Outdoors folk said goodbye to many close friends, celebrated area and national anniversaries, and enjoyed a regional resource that is the envy of many anglers and hunters elsewhere.
Illnesses rather than accidents ended the lives of well-known and beloved members of our outdoors ranks in 2011. Here are nine who will be remembered for their goodness, exemplary character and contributions to the resource.
Mike Levy died March 2 after lengthy coronary complications. He left legions of committed readers and a novel "Hunting with Teddy" worthy of close reading.
The spring and early summer seasons went without noted passings, but two major Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs contributors died in August. Norbert "Norbie" Antoink, a devoted club and federation volunteer, passed away Aug. 18. Mark Wezka, avid hunter, Iron Man competitor, and rep with Hawkeye Bowmen died during a competition on Aug. 28.
Bob McNitt, outdoor writer from Norwich and best known as New York Sportsman Magazine editor, lost his battle with cancer on Oct. 20.
Vince Piasecki, expert Oneida Lake and Lake Erie walleye angler and Southtowns Walleye Association volunteer, died Oct. 5.
November saw the most memorials with the passing of Scott Schultz, 49, son of Herb and Myra Schultz, on Nov. 7; Keith "Bedbug" Dickerson, Lake Erie perch and walleye guru; Don Larkman of the Valley Ten Hunt Club on Nov. 11; and Steve Mooradian, retired DEC Fisheries Supervisor, on Nov. 16.
All nine of these men leave legions of close friends and fond memories of their accomplishments, shared wisdom and love for the outdoors.
The 2011 calendar marked a milestone year for firearms, sporting groups and outdoors legislation.
John Moses Browning's development of the famed Colt 1911 was actually a semiautomatic pistol design Browning had been working on for more than a decade before the government bought the model for use in upcoming World War I.
Two organizations celebrated 50 years of serving the outdoors community.
National Shooting Sports Foundation has been a vanguard source for information and gun-ownership rights assistance from the day it was founded in 1961. From organizing the SHOT (Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade) Show to production of news and views on its website (nssf.org), this organization has been a boon to hunters and shooters across the country and around the world.
The Ruffed Grouse Society marked its 50th anniversary as an advocate for conservation efforts in support of upland bird species -- game and nongame birds such as woodcock, songbirds and all birds in need of forested habitat. Chapter volunteers work with state agencies to upgrade habitation that will provide food and cover for bird life. Check out their efforts at ruffedgrousesociety.org.
Anglers may or may not recall a monumental fisheries bill that was passed 25 years ago. Then Assemblyman Fran Pordum, currently outgoing Town of Evans supervisor, sponsored the "Gill Net Bill" that banned the use of gill nets for commercial fish harvesting in Lake Erie waters of New York State.
Other states followed with bills similar to Pordum's legislation. A more detailed summation of this bill will be included in a column on the Southtowns Walleye Association's new headquarters later this month.
New York Bowhunters logged 20 years as a statewide archery advocate. Along with annual Rendezvous outings at sites around the state, NYB volunteers have set up a popular Spikes program for young archers, developed a handicapped shooters program, assisted in establishing archery in schools programs statewide and contributed to many sportsmen-related efforts.
Anglers and hunters enjoy a bountiful resource in the waters, fields and woods that exist within an hour's drive of downtown Buffalo.
In 2011, anglers often came off Lake Erie waters with limit catches of perch (50 per angler) and walleye (5 each) in impressive numbers.
Lake Ontario saw increased numbers and sizes of king (Chinook) salmon, but it has been a steady run of brown and steelhead trout -- with a few more coho and Atlantic salmon thrown into the catch -- that made every fishable day on Ontario waters bountiful. Yellow perch kept anglers busy when afloat or casting from shore.
For inland lakes, Chautauqua Lake perch prevail as the most improved (increased in size) panfish pickings. Honeoye Lake is a close second for panfish and a bass fishery that can be enjoyed all spring, summer, and fall.
As we remember those dear friends who departed in 2011, strive to emulate their contributions to outdoors pursuits by sharing effective ways to harvest and sustain those resources in 2012 and for years to come.