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Hunters Corner: Honoring outdoor excellence

A few months ago I mentioned that Lieutenant Wayne Saunders, a sergeant at the time, was awarded a prestigious Shikar-Safari Club International 2012 award based on his achievements as a conservation officer. Saunders is an 18-year veteran richly deserving of this award. And now others have been singled out for their contributions.

Conservation Officer Alexander Lopashanski of Albany was honored as New Hampshire’s 2012 Northeast Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association Officer of the Year. Officer Lopashanski patrols the towns of Albany, Madison, Tamworth, Freedom and Eaton. He has been with N.H. Fish and Game for five years. He is a defensive tactics instructor, defensive driving instructor, a field training officer, a member of a specialized search and rescue team, recently certified member of the dive team and honor guard member.

“Officer Lopashanski has an outstanding work ethic and an enthusiastic attitude. His likeable, easy-going approach naturally lends itself to positive public relations,” Col. Martin Garabedian said. “He has developed into a quality fiend investigator with the determination to follow through with leads, conduct thorough interviews and pay attention to details necessary to solve complex investigation.”

Garabedian referenced Lopashanski’s successful investigation of bob house break-ins during the 2012 ice fishing season. His perseverance paid off when confessions were obtained, stolen equipment was returned to the fishermen and all of the suspects were charged and convicted in Ossipee District Court.

Pittsburg Police Chief Richard Lapoint was honored as the 2012 OHRV Safety Education Instructor of the Year. This award was created in 2003 in memory of Bud Wool and Jack Willey, who were pioneers in setting the standards of safety education for snowmobiles and OHRVs.

“This year’s recipient has been a continuous supporter to the N.H. Fish and Game Department and safety education,” said Capt. John Wimsatt, who oversees Fish and Game OHRV enforcement and education. “Chief Lapoint and the local club have sponsored dozens of safety education classes. He helps organize and teach the classes and has been a tireless supporter of our department’s safety and awareness initiatives.”

The late Nancy Lyon of New London was honored by the New Hampshire Outdoor Council with a New Hampshire Search and Rescue Extraordinary Service Award, honoring individuals who have given extraordinary service to back-country search and rescue in New Hampshire. Her name will appear on a permanent plaque that will be displayed at Fish and Game headquarters. Lyon was a long-time volunteer for New England K9 Search and Rescue and a prominent figure in background search and rescue in New Hampshire.

“Nancy was the NEK9 Team Leader for 18 years. She has been an integral part of 400-500 searches over the time span, serving in both New Hampshire and Vermont and beyond as needed,” wrote Lt. Todd Bogardus (Ret), former Fish and Game search and rescue team leader, in a letter supporting her nomination. “Nancy’s dedication and commitment to the K9 and general search and rescue community in immeasurable. As an example of a true ‘Unpaid SAR Professional’ she exemplified the words dedication, commitment, teamwork and leadership.”

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The free workshop season at the Owl Brook Hunter Education Center in Holderness begins in August. The first session on crow hunting will be held Aug. 10 from 9 a.m.-noon.

The crow hunting workshop covers the basic pursuit of these challenging birds, from the use of a mouth call to high-tech electronic calling and decoying. Participants also will learn about crow behavior, crow hunting safety issues, gaining permission to hunt/landowner relations, clothing choices, set-up locations, shotgun and ammunition options, creature comforts for an enjoyable hunt and recipes for – you guessed it – eating crow.

Crow hunting has a split season in New Hampshire. It opens Aug. 15 and runs through Nov. 30, then there is a short spring season from March 16-31.

The second workshop session is Aug. 17 from 9 a.m.-noon and is on woodcock and ruffed grouse hunting. The workshop covers the basic skills needed for the pursuit of these birds. Participants also will learn about grouse behavior, hunting safety issues, hunting with or without dogs, gaining permission to hunt/landowner relations, clothing choices, shotgun and ammunition options, creature comforts for an enjoyable hunt and recipes for grouse.

The session will be led by grouse hunting enthusiasts and hunter education instructors Sean Williamson and Dan Keleher. Andrew Weik, the Northeast biologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society, will give a presentation on ruffed grouse and woodcock and their habitat needs.

Grouse hunting season in New Hampshire runs Oct. 1-Dec. 31, with woodcock season Oct. 1-Nov. 14.

Pre-registration is required for both of these workshops; call Tom Flynn at 536-3954.

(Bob Washburn can be reached at

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