Santa arrived early for eight fortunate youths whose names were drawn for a free lifetime license during the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs December meeting.

On the evening of Dec. 19, ECFSC President Chuck Godfrey held the hat (a bin of youth’s entry applications) and Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard drew eight names from the 1,127 entrants for licenses in three categories: hunting and fishing, hunting, and fishing.

All eight winning entrants reside in Erie County and have had considerable involvement in outdoors pursuits, especially fishing. Most have fished close to home and also have gone with parents and friends to fishing sites in New York and nearby destinations in Pennsylvania and Ontario.

New York State law bars youths from discharging firearms until age 12, so hunting involvements for the younger recipients have been confined to vicarious viewing and encouragement from elders.

Each of the winners, four boys and four girls, was contacted to confirm their residence, age and a general summation of their outdoors interests and activities at their young ages.

A combination hunting and fishing license went to Amanda Plumley, 10, of Cheektowaga. Amanda has been an avid angler since age 4 or 5, said her dad, Stacy Plumley. “We go shore fishing along the Erie Canal and the Niagara River,” dad said.

Dylan Steinwandel, 8, of Amherst, one of the two youngest winners, will also receive a combination hunting and fishing lifetime license. Norbert Steinwandel, Dylan’s dad, said Dylan has fished locally and gone on family outings to Canada. Though one of the youngest, he has shown much interest in someday heading out with dad on hunt trips.

Gabriel Lucas, 12, of Cheektowaga was the sole winner of a lifetime fishing license. Gabriel goes out with his dad, Paul Lucas, and granddad, Mike Hooley, to fish along Cayuga Creek near home and on jaunts to Lime Lake.

Five youths will accept hunting (small- and big-game) lifetime licenses during the federation’s awards banquet.

Joey Fatta, 8, of Cheektowaga has been fishing with dad since age 3 or 4. Becky Fatta, Joey’s mom, said Joey’s sister Melanie, now 4, is starting in with dad, Mark Fatta, on fishing trips just as Joey had done earlier.

Nicholas Poleto, 14, of Buffalo has reached legal hunting age established in the previous regulations system and will be able to hunt big or small game this coming year.

Don Poleto, his dad, said, “Nick was so excited with his win and wants to upgrade to include a fishing license; he absolutely loves fishing near home at Cazenovia Creek.”

Alexander Jones, 13, of West Seneca, like Nicholas will be old enough to take a certification course and use his lifetime hunter license in 2014 and add a fishing license if he chooses. For now, Alexander will be able to receive a free small-game and big-game license each coming year.

The Reid family of Orchard Park showed the greatest good fortune in the drawing. Twin girls Callie and Macy Reid, 13, each entered the drawing, had their names placed in separate drawing bins and both of their names were drawn from the more than 1,000 youths entered for the draw.

“I saw to it that each bin had an equal distribution and the two separate Reid entries went into different bins,” said Godfrey, marveling at the twins’ successful drawing wins.

Bruce Reid, the twins’ dad, said, “Both girls were into fishing as soon as they could walk and regularly fished at a Randolph campground and area lakes and ponds.”

Dad added that they also have shown some interest in trying out hunting.

The eight recipients will be presented their licenses during the EFCSC Annual Banquet and Awards Dinner at Father Justin Knights of Columbus Hall on March 1.

Joe Jemiolo, ECFSC Youth Lifetime License coordinator, noted that support for this year’s drawing increased the license count by one. “We were able to sponsor seven last year and this year’s drawings went to eight,” Jemiolo said.

To view the sponsors and download an application for next year’s license drawings, go to

Howard, a vocal opponent of New York’s SAFE Act firearms law, spoke to the federation affiliates, commenting that what he likes about the act is that its restrictions and stipulations have brought him closer to gun owners, shooters and collectors in Erie County and across the state.

“I believe passage of the SAFE Act will be a strong element in coming elections,” Howard said, without reference to specific candidates or individual issues. He sees opposition to the act expanding since the last elections, saying, “New York and Colorado are similar in their opposition” to restrictive gun laws.

Howard noted that in New York State, 52 of the 62 counties either reject items in the act or have called for its repeal. He compared that opposition with the 52 of 62 counties in Colorado that called for withdrawing gun-control legislation in that state.

Kevin Ploetz, an affiliate with the Springville Field and Stream Club, announced that club’s participation in a “Shot Heard Throughout New York State” program set for noon on Jan. 11 on the club’s grounds on Chaise Road in protest of the first anniversary of the SAFE Act passage.

“We thinks it’s fitting; the club is close to Concord, New York,” Ploetz said.

He added that SCOPE and other state gun and shooting organizations caution that this statewide protest should be held at sites where participants can fire a shot in a legal and safe manner.

For details on this January “symbolic shot” event and other SCOPE efforts, go to

(Next week: The outdoors year in review.).