No Grinch’s here this holiday season when in comes to reflecting on outdoors happenings in 2018. Which is not to say there is not plenty to do for those of us who want to preserve our lifestyle and present the positives those activities and pursuits represent.
As Top 10s are always in vogue when compiling year-end lists, that’s what we’ll go with, but in no way will we attempt to rank them. Suffice to say it was a year of accomplishment statewide and locally, so let’s look back at our final list presented in alphabetical order with some remembered in detail.
Retired Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission executive director John Arway left his mark on the agency after nearly 38 of service; Big Buck Contest sponsored by the Schuylkill County Sportsmen’s Association and Schuylkill County Sportsmen’s Advisory Board proves to be a major attraction in its first year at the Schuylkill County Fair; Family Fun Fishing Event held at Sweet Arrow Lake near Pine Grove attracts vacationers with its year-long format; Hunters Sharing the Harvest sets an all-time record in venison donations to feed the needy; Hunters United for Sunday Hunting continues to gain support from legislators, sportsmen, conservationists and various state agencies; Pennsylvania Game Commission is named Quality Deer Management Agency of the Year; Pine Grove Youth Hunter Education Challenge teams, based at Roedersville Fish and Game Club, enjoyed success at the regional, state and national levels; retired Blue Mountain High teacher Dennis Scharadin was recognized for his 47 years of promoting outdoors education, including 25 years of coordinating programs for the Schuylkill County Sportsmen’s Association; Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area was honored for its preservation projects by the Schuylkill Conservation District; youth shotgun teams and events grow at the high school and gun club levels.
Arway served the PFBC in various capacities, being named executive director in 2010, and he never missed the opportunity to promote fishing in Pennsylvania. He did this from his office, by making public appearances and by being on the water — often with legislators — promoting the resource, launching an aggressive restoration project for the Susquehanna and was the driving force behind the “S.O.S.” — Save Our Susquehanna — fundraising campaign.
Obtaining sponsorships for the youth division from Cabela’s Hamburg and the adult division for D.G. Yuengling & Sons, the big buck contest attracted 22 entries from central Pennsylvania. Chuck Fayosh won the adult division with a 23¼-inch rack, but the overall winner was youth division champion Jerome Balliet with a 26¾-inch rack.
Hunters Sharing the Harvest in the 2017-18 deer seasons set a record for donations with 3,337 deer yielding 130,930 pounds of venison that provided 667,400 meals for people in need. Since its formation in 1991 HSH has donated more than 1.3 million pounds of venison to the state’s hungry.
At its national convention at New Orleans in July, QDMA announced the PGC was its national agency of the year. QDMA director of conservation Kip Adams said his agency’s 2018 Whitetail Report revealed Pennsylvania is one of just five states in the nation where hunters take more than 300,000 whitetails annually.
Competing in the YHEC Eastern Regional held at the Wilkes-Barre Pistol and Rifle Club, Hunlock Creek, in May, the Pine Grove senior Wombats placed first in their division with the best overall team score, and the junior Wombats placed first in their division.
At the Pennsylvania State Shoot held at Scotia Range, State College, in June the senior and junior Wombats placed third in their divisions, placing first in Wildlife Identification and Hunter Exam, second in 3-D Archery and third in .22 Rifle; the junior Coyotes placed fifth with a third place in Wildlife Identification; the senior Crosshairs placed eighth and the senior Wombats placed first in Wildlife Identification and second in Sporting Clays.
Senior Brandon Wasser was fifth overall, placing first in Sporting Clays and third in Wildlife Identification, and Shane Martin was fifth overall, placing third in Muzzleloader, and they qualified to represent the Pennsylvania State Blue Team at the YHEC Nationals held at Mansfield in July. Logan Butler was sixth overall and Brian Callaghan sixth overall and earned places on the Pennsylvania State Blue Team at Nationals.
At Nationals, Butler and Callaghan helped their team finish fifth in a field of 17. Pine Grove coach Lou Dallatore was ranked third overall.
In honoring the Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area with its 2018 Conservation Organization of the Year Award it was cited in particular by the Schuylkill Conservation District for its restoration of the Schuylkill River Trail that runs through Schuylkill and Berks Counties. Called the John Bartram Trail, it is built on a former railroad right of way, and the mostly flat trail is wide enough for both walkers and cyclists to use comfortably.
Slow, but steady, best describes the growth of youth trap shooting and shotgun teams in Schuylkill County. Following the lead and example set by pioneer North Schuylkill, Williams Valley formed a team and the Orwigsburg Gun Club formed a team for Blue Mountain students.
(Dietz is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association)