As with so many helpful souls that enrich and fulfill our lives, we often lack time to thank them for the talents they have shared and selfless efforts to ensure our safety and enjoyment of the outdoor resources.
The WNY Region 9 Sportsmen's Education Instructors Recognition Banquet, held Sept. 8 at Holland Willows, offered an opportunity to thank many of those volunteer educators who take the time to learn rules, regulations, techniques, ethics and all other aspects of sportsman conduct needed to instruct others in certification programs.
Hunter numbers are increasing and classes fill more quickly than in recent years. Nonetheless, these men, and an increasing number of women, step forth and see that all have the opportunity to qualify for hunter, archery, trapping, waterfowl identification and other certifications.
Two instructors have logged a total of 50 years as certified instructors. Philip Denz of Hamburg and Bernard Fix Sr. each received award standards for their half century of service to area sportsmen.
Three instructors accepted 40-year awards: Gordy Pierce, Rich Gerlock, and Henry M. Pautler.
Jim Orndorff was recognized for 20 years of service: Jim Sirianni Jr. and Tom Fix were presented awards for 10 years of instruction.
During the first recognition banquet, Art Muller, an active instructor at Allied Sportsmen in Marilla, was presented a 40-year achievement award. Muller died shortly after that presentation. At this year's banquet his wife and daughter accepted posthumously the Wayne Jones Excellence Award in recognition of his years of service and devotion to all with whom he worked.
As for years of devoted service, the night of the banquet was the 50th wedding anniversary of Robert and Janine Watroba. Bob, photographer with decades of outdoors photo achievements, served as official photographer for this event as he and his wife had done on so many previous occasions.
The Fix family approaches nearly 100 combined years of sportsman education instruction. Along with Bernard Fix Sr., 85, at 50 years, Bernard Fix Jr. has amassed more than 25 years. His brother Tom was presented a 10-year service award; grandson Nathan Fix of Batavia has more than five years of both instruction and Region 8 class coordinating throughout the year.
The Miskey family follows closely with generational service. Frank Miskey Sr. is the Region 9 coordinator and banquet organizer, Frank Miskey Jr. teaches combined classes as well as individual courses, and a 5-month-old grandson, Frank Miskey III, attended his first banquet that evening at Holland Willows.
Hamburg competition shooter George Bogner has scored high in many contests and has taken to the international circuit as an entrant in European-style sporting clays shoots modeled on French competitions.
He participated in the Fourth Annual U.S. World Sporting Championships held Aug. 13-19 in Hainesville, Ill.
When all scores were tallied, Bogner distinguished himself in two categories.
In a shoot-out match for individual honors, he missed the gold by one point and emerged with a silver medal.
In team competition, he shot with two other entrants to finish with the gold in the Super Veteran Division, for shooters over age 65.
Bogner modestly acknowledged his finishes among the more than 1,100 entrants in that championship, which included top scores in several rounds and a one-point miss at bringing home two gold awards.