It was another night of quality game food, camaraderie and fun at the Elks Hall on Saturday, Feb. 1 as the Williams Lake Sportsmen’s Association held their annual Wild Game Banquet.
The banquet is held each year as both a fundraiser for the association’s various programs and activities but also as a chance for lakecity residents to socialize and enjoy some truly unique dishes. Then, of course, there is the awards ceremony where outdoorsmen and women compete to see who caught the biggest fish or bagged the biggest animal in over 40 categories.
According to banquet chair and WLSA member Lloyd Como this is an event many of the WLSA members and the wider community look forward to each year, to the point that this year all 250 of their tickets sold out just a few hours before the dinner. Como has been helping organize the banquet for the last four years.
“This year, I think, is the first year we’ve sold out and some of the people here are not members of the WLSA, they’ve just come out to support us, so I think overall the event is pretty well supported by the community,” Como said.
The Wild Game Banquet, Como said, serves as something of a “wrap-up” style event for the WLSA as hunting and fishing season comes to an end and a new year begins. The event is made more special by the fact all the meat used in the excellent dishes prepared each year is donated by WLSA members, which gives everyone in attendance a chance to try something different. The women of Crystal’s Custom Catering, Como said, always get very creative with their dishes no matter what game they get to work with.
This year was no exception as diners got the chance to sample cougar tacos, smoked salmon, salmon and avocado sushi, Mediterranean moose casserole, teriyaki bear, creamy salmon pasta and cuts of deer, moose and beef, to name but a few. Each dish was largely picked clean by the large and enthusiastic crowd in attendance.
Donors of meat included Keith Iverson, Matt Gould, Jeff Eastwood, Russell and Val Ferguson, Lorne Barron, Dave Clem, Val Morrow, Al Campsall, Bob Thurow, Russel Swan, Hana Erickson, Andre Paquin, Al Bush, Lloyd Como and Roxy Bambrick.
While waiting for their food, attendees were invited to browse the wide range of goods up for silent auction, from unique wooden tables to new hunting rifles. Everything on display, Como said, was donated by local partners and community members with this year being a particularly good one for community support.
“I was born and raised in this area so outdoor sports, I’ve been involved in all my life. I’ve shot all my life and I really enjoy being in the outback hunting, so does my lady, so consequently, it’s a big part of our life,” Como said, remarking he loves his “golfing with a shotgun” hobby, referring to clay pigeon shooting.
The next event Como is organizing for the WLSA is the Stinson Memorial Sports Clay Shoot from June 5-7, held in memory of longtime shotgun enthusiast Cliff Stinson who taught Como a lot about bird hunting.
The sold-out audience meant that things did end up running a little behind as everyone served themselves at the buffet table but organizers kept things lively and engaging before kicking off the trophy awards around 9 p.m.
This year 25 of the club’s 39 awards were given out, with organizers encouraging those gathered to always bring in their results for evaluation, as you never know what will end up winning a trophy. The winners are as follows:
Nicholaas Gysel took second place in the Junior Trout category with a four pound, seven ounce trout while Willem Gysel caught himself a first-place fish at five pounds, one ounce. The Rainbow Trout award, meanwhile, went to Vivian Simmons with a four pound, two ounces fish. Not to be outdone, the Trout Fly Fishing only award went to Steve Rupp and his seven pound, one ounce catch.
The Gysel family proved to be as a good at winning awards as they are hunting and fishing, as this time Willem Gysel settled for second place in the Spring Salmon Junior with a 30 pound, eight ounce catch to Nicholaas Gysel’s 31-pound even effort. The Spring Salmon award went to Keith Iverson with a 24 pound, two ounce salmon while veteran WLSA member Al Campsall’s 20 pound, four ounce fish netted him second place.
For Char-Lake Trout Jamie Wiggens 19 pound, 10 ounce catch was unable to dethrone Roger Gysel’s 24 pounder for first place. Meanwhile, the Biff’s Pond award which goes to anyone who caught fish in Wayne Biffert’s stock pond, went to Norm Reynolds with a five pound, 10 ounce catch of the day.
Moving from the waterways to the bush, Nicholaas Gysel bagged himself another first-place trophy in the Mule Deer Junior category with a 140 4/8 inch deer. Mule Deer Junior Archery, meanwhile, went to archer Ty Thurow with a 123 7/8 inch prize.
In Mule Deer Typical top marks were earned by Wayne Biffert’s 86 2/8 inch animal while Lorne Barron nabbed second with a 72 3/8 inch score. Mule Deer non-typical went to Lorraine Jasper, who posted an impressive 170 4/8 inch trophy. Keith Iverson was unable to snag first place in Mule Deer Typical Archery with his 73 inch effort as Lee Jackman sat at the top of the hill with a 123 2/8 inch prize winner.
Mule Deer Typical ladies’ first place went to Roxanne Bambrick for her 118 1/8 inch deer while Debra Baron secured second with 85 4/8 inch result. Nicholaas Gysel’s 129 1/8 inch whitetail deer secured him the Whitetail typical award uncontested while a 148 4/8 inch moose was bagged by Al Campsall for the Moose trophy.
Dan Simmons, meanwhile, took down two black bears to win both first and second place in the Black Bear category with an 18 12/16 inch bear and an 18 4/16 inch bear respectively. Black Bear Junior went to Nicholaas Gysel for a 19-inch effort. Black Bear Archery, meanwhile, was firmly locked down by Keith Iverson with a 19 14/16 inch bear for first and 18 12/16 inch bear for second.
In the Canada Goose category, Lloyd Como took home first place with a 71 inch bird while Roxanne Bambrick chased for second with 68 3/4 inch. Notable Big Game Archery went to Danny Cooper, who brought down a 44 6/8 inch mountain goat with his bow.
Open Big Game Aggregate Score went to Nicholaas Gysel’s black bear with a score of 95 per cent while Danny Cooper’s mountain goat won him the Aggregate Archery Award with a score of a 112 per cent.
The Jack Mackill Memorial Trophy for Conservation went to Wayne Biffert while the new Danika Bush Memorial Perseverance Award, given to mobility-impaired hunters who still practice the craft, went to Debra Baron.
Sportsman of the Year went to Lloyd Como who was genuinely surprised and thankful to accept the awards from his fellow WLSA members.
All in all it was a successful evening for the WLSA that left guests with happy hearts and full bellies.
For more photos of award winners visit www.wltribune.com/sports.