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2010 LOWA Annual Conference in Covington

 General Motors, 2010 Annual Conference Sponsor

 The heat of August was the backdrop for the 2010 LOWA Annual Conference in Covington, Louisiana.  Special thanks to our 2010 Annual Confernce Sponsor, General Motors.  The conference was kicked off on Friday, August 5, 2010 with a cocktail party to welcome the members to the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites.  With delicious food catered by Artigue’s Abita Market and beverages provided by Mockler Beverage Company and the Baton Rouge Coca-Cola Bottling Company, about 20 members and their spouses enjoyed the opportunity to get together with old friends.  About an hour into the night, Supporting Member Liaison, Gerald Gaspard with Pure Fishing showcased his new products (and some old ones as well!).

Early Saturday morning Don Dubuc hosted his weekly Saturday morning show with the help of Joe Macaluso and Bill Ford, Fish Records Custodian.  They even had a couple of listeners stop in at the hotel to say “hi!”

Meanwhile, the other members snagged an early complimentary breakfast at the hotel and then it was off to the Tallow Creek Shooting Club for some skeet shooting and the LOWA Board meeting.  While the members shot, the jambalaya pot was sparked up with some delicious Louisiana Fish Fry Jambalaya.

After the Board meeting and shooting, the members traveled back to the Holiday Inn for two seminars presented by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.  Larry Reynolds spoke on the topic of “The Upcoming Duck Season and How the Oil Spill Will Affect It,” and Mike Carloss addressed “The Bird Rescue Mission as Oil Impacts Louisiana’s Coast.”

After these two informative presentations, the members convened to their Annual Membership Meeting for elections and other LOWA business.

While the members were busy with shooting, seminars and the annual meeting, the spouses joined Tanya Leader of the St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission for an afternoon of history, eating and shopping!  The tour started at the historic Otis House in Fairview Riverside Park.  Next on the agenda was a visit to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum. Lunch was at New Orleans Seafood & Spirits in downtown Covington.  After lunch, the ladies visited the various shops on Lee Street.  As in years past, Cheryl Macaluso suggested that the ladies add just one more stop to their tour–this year it was a visit to the Southern Living Idea House!

On Saturday night, excitement was in the air as everyone gathered for the Annual Conference Awards Banquet. Youth Journalism, Youth Hunter and Fish of the Year winners and their families gathered with the conference attendees and award sponsors for a wonderful dinner of roasted pork.  After an invocation by LOWA member Pastor Rusty Tardo, the members were treated to an educational and informative presentation by Anne Rheams, Executive Director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.

The first award of the evening was Fish of the Year. Fish Records Chairman, Bill Ford, turned the microphone over to Don Dubuc to describe the massive Mako catch of Bill Walters, a Texas native, who was not able to be at the conference.  Don’s colorful description of the catch made us feel like Bill was among us!   Next up was local Charter Boat Captain Eric Dumas who recounted the tale of his 13-1/2 pound Tripletail catch on a fly rod.

Next up was the presentation of the Youth Hunters of the Year Awards.  YHA Chairman, Dave Moreland, kicked off the presentation by introducing Kenny Ribbeck, Chief of the LDWF Wildlife Division.  Kenny made the presentation of the 2009 Female Youth Hunter of the Year Award to 13 year-old Tori Kessler of Pineville.  Kenny recounted how Tori harvested her eight point buck last December.  Dave then introduced Jimmy Stafford, Turkey Biologist for the LA Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, who presented the Adam Bernard with his 2009 Male Youth Hunter of the Year Award.  Jimmy had Adam shyly tell the tale of his awesome turkey hunt.

Gordon Hutchinson continued presenting the children’s awards with the presentation of the Youth Journalims awards.  YJC Chairman Hutchinson introduced the award sponsor, Pug Loren, President of the Louisiana Chapter of Safari Clubs International (SCI).  Together Gordon and Pug began the presentation of awards to nine of the 11 YJC winners who were present to accept their awards.  As always, applause was thunderous and the flashes from the cameras was blinding!

Lyle Johnson then presented the First Bob Dennie Lifetime Achievement Award to, who else, but Bob Dennie.  Unfortunately, Bob’s health prevented him from receiving the award in person, and several members will present the award to Bob after the conference.  Lyle went on to explain that the award was named after Bob and the first award was given to Bob to commemorate his lifetime of dedication to LOWA.

Once the youth awards were all presented, it was time for the adults to join in the fun!  Excellence in Craft Chairman, Bo Boehringer took to the podium to introduce the first EIC Category and Sponsor.   What is usually an exciting and fun part of the banquet turned hilarious as the “Glynn Harris” stand-in began accepting Glynn’s awards in his absence (Glynn could not attend due to recent eye surgery).  The first award which “Glynn” won received a big laugh, but by the fourth win, the crowd was going wild!

The raffle topped off the night and was enjoyed by one and all. Joe Macaluso (substituting for our substitute Rafflemaster Andy Crawford) sold tickets during the banquet and award ceremony.  As in years past, we had two guns (thanks to Remington and CVA), Pure fishing donations included rods, reels, and the ever-popular Gulp baits!  The Louisiana-shaped gift baskets donated by Louisiana Fish Fry were a big hit, as usual!  Youth Hunter Award Winner, Adam Bernard, helped to distribute the prizes.

The big surprise of the night was when Cheryl Macaluso won both the CVA Muzzloader (like she did last year) AND the Remington M887 NitroMag.  What a lucky lady!  Joe Macaluso came up with a brilliant idea….he donated the CVA muzzleloader back to re-raffle it amongst the youth award winners.  New tickets were distributed and Joe selected the winning ticket.  Our Male Youth Hunter of the Year, Adam Bernard, had the winning ticket which resulted in a huge smile on a young man’s face! Way to go Joe!

As usual, the members retired to the hospitality suite for a final chance to catch up with old friends and to bid each other farewell.  “Glynn Harris” even made an appearance after the banquet–to everyone’s delight!

Thanks for another great banquet from LOWA to Tanya Leader and the St. Tammany Parish Tourist Commission.  Stacy Spears and the staff at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites did a great job welcoming our members and making them feel at home.  Thanks to our Supporting Members for their usual support and in particular Gerald Gaspard with Pure Fishing for going above and beyond—as usual!

LOWA would also like to thank Anne Rheams of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation for taking time out of her busy schedule to come speak to our members and banquet attendees.

Special thanks to our Youth Journalism Contest sponsor, Pug Loren and Ron and Jackie Bartels and the Safari Club International, Louisiana Chapter.

We also wish to thank our Youth Hunter Award sponsors, Bayou State Bowhunters Association, the South LA Branch of the Quality Deer Management Association, Bowie Outfitters in BR, the LA Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the BR Chapter of Delta Waterfowl, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation and Andrew Harrison, Harrison Law, LLC in Baton Rouge.

And last, but certainly not least, we wish to thank our generous Excellence in Craft Sponsors.

  • Louisiana Forestry Association
  • Louisiana Association of Professional Biologists
  • Louisiana Charter Boat Association
  • Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana
  • Lake Charles-Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Louisiana Forestry Association
  • National Wild Turkey Federation
  • Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation
  • Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act Outreach Committe

In addition to those recognized above, we would like to thank the Annual Conference Committee Members, Joe and Cheryl Macaluso, Helmut Ermlich and Bo Boehringer, for all they did to make the conference a great success.  Special thanks to our conference photographers:  Helmut Ermlich, Greg Cedotal and Gordon Hutchinson.