2010 Remington Mentor of the Year Winner: Hal Heagy
Editor’s Note: NAHC Life Member Hal Heagy was nominated for the 2010 Remington Mentor of the Year by his good friend Galen Krebs, selected as a finalist by the NAHC staff and voted the winner by NAHC members. On behalf of the entire NAHC community: Congratulations, Hal. You’re an extremely humble and deserving inaugural winner of the NAHC/Remington Mentor of the Year Program.
First, please allow me to take this opportunity to thank God, the North American Hunting Club, Remington, Gettysburg Young Marines, Littlestown Fish and Game Association, Adams County (Pennsylvania) 4-H Shooting Sports Association, Adams County Sheriff’s Office and all those who recently voted for me as the 2010 Remington/NAHC Mentor of the Year. It’s humbling, as well as a great honor, to be recognized as such. Taking time to mentor our youth and set a positive example is something I take much pride in doing. After all, it’s all about our kids. If we, as a team, can keep one child from going down the wrong path by introducing him or her to hunting and the outdoors, it’s all worthwhile. We all have the responsibility of setting a good example, and we can learn from those we help steer in the right direction.
As a Pennsylvania hunting and trapping education instructor, I take my mentoring responsibilities very seriously. But there’s fun to be had, too. As a Women on Target instructor, I enjoy teaching women safe gun handling and personal protection—especially when watching the ladies outshoot their significant others. I recently had my 21-year-old granddaughter, Jenn, at the shooting range for her first time shooting a firearm. At 50 yards she was grouping tightly; her husband, Scott, was not fairing as well—and she let him know it.
Making A Difference
I’m an NRA certified instructor in home firearms safety; rifle, pistol and shotgun safety; and a range safety officer. I’m also involved with the Young Marines Program (YM) and am currently the unit commander of the Gettysburg Young Marines. The YM is a youth education and service program for boys and girls, ages 8 through completion of high school. The YM promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members, as well as focusing on character building, leadership and promoting a healthy, drug-free lifestyle. The YM is the focal point for the U.S. Marine Corps Youth Drug Demand Reduction efforts. I would like to give a special thanks to Gettysburg Young Marine, PFC Ginter, for assisting me in writing this Bio. Ooh-rah, young lady.
On August 26, 2010, I was commissioned as a Pennsylvania deputy wildlife conservation officer (DWCO), which is a volunteer position working directly with a career WCO, but with full law enforcement requirements. This program takes almost 2 years to complete. During the aforementioned 2 years I spent a lot of time with one of the finest young men I’ve ever met. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention and give the highest gratitude and honor to WCO David L. Grove, who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 11, 2010. He was a man devoted to God, his family and the Pennsylvania Game Commission. Officer Grove’s dedication to me—he was indeed my mentor—is the reason I became a DWCO. God bless you, brother, and I make this promise: I will carry on in protecting Pennsylvania wildlife and our strong hunting and fishing heritage.
As of Jan. 1, 2011, I was elected President of the Littlestown Fish and Game Association. I’m also involved with the Adams County 4-H shooting sports as an adult leader.
In 2010, the Adams County Sheriff (Jim Muller) along with “Lethal Weapons” certified instructor (Len Supenski), Galen Krebs “Refuse to be a Victim” instructor and I designed a 16-hour education LTCF/CCW class, of which we all volunteer our time to teach. I’m also a Personal Protection in the Home instructor, and volunteer in many other men, women and youth safety/hunting/fishing education programs. And for many years now during the holidays, there’s a jolly ole elf who resembles me and makes charity appearances, most recently with the Gettysburg Young Marines.
One of the things I love about being a mentor is being able to see those I teach make improvements. Knowing that I’ve taught something that could potentially save a person’s life, or an activity for the whole family to enjoy, is something that cannot be explained.
Being voted the 2010 Remington/NAHC Mentor of the Year is simply amazing. It’s something I wouldn’t have been able to achieve without the support of many others. Being a mentor is something anyone can do, and I ask everyone to help make a positive difference in the lives of our nation’s youth—they truly are the future of our country. You don’t have to give up all of your time, or take extensive training courses; it can be something as simple as organizing a neighborhood baseball game and teaching kids how to play. There are numerous ways to make an impact. You just have to take the initiative to do so. If we don’t take time to make a positive difference, who will?
Frank Copenhaver was an elementary physical education teacher for 34 years before retiring, and although his school system had a forestry program geared for fifth and sixth graders, Frank implemented a shotgun shooting activity for the students into his curriculum. Copenhaver donated most of the shotshells and targets so there was no cost to the school system. In addition, Frank served as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts in their shotgun shooting activities, and he was also very active with his local high school trap program for more than 15 years. With Frank’s help, the program has grown from four shooters to more than 60, and now participates at the Wisconsin State Trap Shooting Championships. Frank also serves as a volunteer at his local archery club’s Saturday morning youth shoots, instructing children from 3 years old to young adults up to 16 years of age. “I feel fortunate to have had these rewarding experiences,” said Frank. “And at 65 years of age, I hope my health permits me to continue my services as a volunteer.”
Lee Bratlie is a certified North Dakota volunteer hunter education instructor and a member of the North Dakota Hunter Educators Association (NDHEA), presently serving as mentor hunt chairman. During the 2007 summer meeting of the NDHEA, Bratlie suggested the organization approach the state legislature and attempt to secure a North Dakota antelope tag to be used in a raffle to support recruitment and retention of first-time hunters. Bratlie also has been proud to serve as a mentor for many young hunters throughout the years, and takes great pride in introducing them to hunting. Lee also recognizes the many distractions youth face, and believes everyone must do as much as possible to recruit—and more importantly, retain—young hunters to ensure the continuation of hunting for future generations. “Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than assisting a first-time hunter on a safe, successful hunt, and witnessing their smiles as they bag that first deer, grouse, pheasant or goose,” said Lee. “I truly believe, ‘Take a kid hunting, and never hunt for the kid.’”
Wayne Sitton was able to gain support for funding a wildlife foundation whose sole mission is wildlife habitat and resource management. He helped create an internship program that brings students into the field and provides them with immense experience in 2 short years. Sitton’s objective was not only to teach them how to be professionals as they pursue wildlife carriers, but also instill common sense and compassion for the wildlife and resources they would eventually be tasked to manage. Sitton also spends a lot of time with elderly sportsmen. He held a tactical training course with 30 students from 50-80 years old. Wayne also recently sponsored a Make-a-Wish bear hunt. “Proper mentoring in the woods not only takes youth away from some of the bad things in life, but it teaches them much about life in general, and a respect for all wildlife and habitat,” said Wayne. “I encourage anyone who has a little extra time to make the effort to mentor both the young and the young at heart so we can keep our heritage alive.”
During the past 3 decades, David Southall’s mentoring of young hunters and shooters has been in three main areas: in-the-field mentoring, NRA firearms instructor and volunteer Florida hunter safety instructor. Southall served as the conservation chairman for the Southwest Florida Council BSA from 1984 until 1998, and during that time he initiated and supervised all camp conservation projects. For several years when Council funds were low, David supported and supplied the camp’s shooting sports program with targets, ammunition and equipment, as well as put on demonstrations and training for muzzleloader shooting. In 1985 David organized the Southwest Florida Shooting Sports Corps of trained NRA certified instructors. This group supervises and runs two camps’ shooting programs and hunter safety training throughout the year. In 1990 David attended NRA Training Counselor School and became qualified to train NRA certified firearms instructors. Each year he trains more than 200 apprentice, assistant and certified instructors in various firearms disciplines. “I strongly believe that the continuation of hunting and organized shooting sports requires us to teach, train and mentor the next generation of shooters and hunters,” said David.
According to friends, Scott McGann’s passions are God, hunting and kids. Ten years ago, Scott founded Scooter’s Youth Hunting Camp (SYHC) as a tribute to his late grandfather. SYHC is a Christian-based, non-profit organization that serves children ages 9-16. To date, SYHC has seen more than 1,400 kids come through the camp and learn to shoot shotguns, .22 rimfire rifles, muzzleloaders and bows. In addition to his time and work at SYHC, every year McGann donates at least two deer hunts and a waterfowl hunt to youth organizations. Scott is also involved with Hunt of a Lifetime. In addition to coordinating fundraisers and logistics for Hunt of a Lifetime events, McGann has had the privilege of taking one of these kids on his dream elk hunt in Idaho. McGann is dedicated to grooming the next generation of young hunters, one kid at a time.
Steve Beilgard is a longtime Wyoming outfitter and conservationist. In 1978 Beilgard was actively involved with helping handicapped hunters fill their big game desires, being one of the first to take wheelchair hunters after antelope and mule deer. In 1980 he was one of the initial members of a group to start the Douglas, Wyoming, based “Hell of a Hunt;” that same year he started and ran No Poach, Inc.—the national Stop Poaching System in Wyoming and Colorado. The Stop Poaching program ran until 1987 when most states adopted their own stop poaching systems. Steve was also involved in a myriad of projects such as the peregrine falcon program, the black-footed ferret program and the Wyoming Game Wardens association for dozens of years. Beilgard was a member of the Outdoor Writers of America. Even after his retirement in 2002, Steve worked with the Physically Challenged Bowhunters of America helping 20 handicapped archers hunt antelope in Wyoming. In addition to helping physically challenged hunters, Steve also takes sick children hunting as a part of the Catch a Dream Foundation. Also, each year he guides an elk hunter for the Elk of a Lifetime charity hunt.
Edgar Pierce is a pastor at his local church and is responsible for starting the Harvest 365 Club, which is a fellowship program designed to promote the connection between hunting and fellowship. Pierce, along with members of his family and his congregation, have held several events that helped single parents introduce and get hunting experience for their kids, Christian-focused shooting events, wild game suppers for community members, dove shoots, skeet shoots. In addition, Pierce helped orchestrate fishing events where equipment was donated to allow anyone to gather to fish and share fellowship. According to his family, Edgar even took the time to become a hunter safety instructor so he could help get kids hunter safety certificates that would allow them access to more hunting opportunities.
As one of the first hunter education instructors in Delaware, Robert “Bob” Loyd has spent many hours passing his love of hunting, and his knowledge of the safe and proper usage of firearms, to future hunters. Many safety instructors that now teach today’s new hunters got their start in one of Loyd’s classes. Still an active teacher of shotgun safety and shooting techniques at age 93, Loyd has taught three generations of families from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. According to family members, donating his time and expertise whenever he’s asked has always been a priority for Loyd. He was a coordinator with Remington Arms for many years starting in 1952 and has spent 35 years as a councilor for the NRA, an organization in which Loyd has been a life member for more than 60 years.
Beginning with his three children, Earl L. Griswold has been a devoted, lifelong mentor. Griswold received his Indiana hunter education instructor credentials and through the years has worked with hundreds of youth as an instructor or leader in the 4-H Shooting Sports, Boy Scouts of America, NWTF JAKES Program and NASP. Recently, Griswold started an organization that supports local youth groups financially, as well as providing instructor support when needed to groups that are involved in shooting sports, and competitive and non-competitive hunting and fishing events. Whether it’s classroom time, spending the day with more than 100 youth at an outdoor youth day event, or spending an afternoon in the woods with a young hunter, Griswold still makes every effort to be a part of mentoring young hunters.
Click on the thumbnails below to view full-size photos of Remington Mentor of the Year Hal Heagy’s acceptance ceremony from SHOT Show 2011.