Last Saturday, March 5, my wife Heidi and I attended the annual Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club Trophy and Awards Dinner at the Merritt Seniors Centre.

This event is something I look forward to every year. I am truly impressed with how the event is organized and how the merchant and business community of our valley support the club with many donations that are given away as door prizes to the attendants.

Without this support and the many club volunteers, the Trophy and Awards night would not have become the staple of annual events in Merritt it is today.

Although attendance was a bit lower compared to last year, there was still a good turnout.

The evening began with cocktails and potluck dinner of deliciously prepared wild game dishes that members cook for the occasion and commenced with the awards presentations for the winners in the various categories of hunting and fishing as well as picture “trophies” submitted by members.

The award categories consisted of: best big game trophy, best fish trophy, ladies and junior game and fish trophy, best archery game trophy and best photography awards split into local landscape, wildlife and open category.

A special attraction for this year was the display of Steven Beckley’s collection of amazing African and North American wild game taxidermy work.

It was a joy to see how many young people — the youngest about ten years old — were called to the podium to receive awards. About half of the contestants who won awards consisted of youth. To me this is a good indicator that the future of hunting, fishing and nature stewardship is slowly changing over to a new generation that will carry on this important part of Canadian heritage.

The Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club itself received an honour: The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC gave the club an award of appreciation for their continued efforts in promoting sustainable fishing practices and fish conservation.

A special attraction for this year was the display of Steven Beckley’s collection of amazing African and North American wild game taxidermy work.

Seeing this amazing collection alone was worth attending the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club Trophy and Award Dinner.

I introduced Steven Beckley in my Herald column from February 11, 2016 “Preserving the memory of a hunt.”

The Trophy and Award Dinner is one of the many entertaining and fun social fundraising events the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club organizes each year in order to continue the many fish and wildlife conservation programs and nature stewardship promotions.

While on this topic let me take this opportunity to dispel any rumours that the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club spends all their financial resources on pending legal actions about Crown land and water access.

This is not truthful. Any fundraising events to finance legal actions are done by an independent entity, the “access committee,” within the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club.

In closing, as a director of the board, I would like to thank on behalf of the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club all the volunteers, supporters, merchants and businesses in the Nicola Valley and beyond for their generous contributions and donations, the many club volunteers that every year donate their time and effort in organizing and setting up this event.

Without that level of support from the community and the volunteer work of dedicated members such an event would simply not be possible.

I also would like to give a special thank you to Steven Beckley for bringing his taxidermy display to the event. I happen to know that he worked hard all night long to put the finishing touches to it.

Thank you all, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s awards.