Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission recently awarded the Lawrence G. Diedrick Small Game Award to both an individual and organization whose actions have significantly and positively impacted North Carolina’s small game populations and the hunting heritage associated with small game.
Kathryn Rand Booher of Rocky Point and the Wake County Wildlife Club were the two recipients honored with the 2022 award.
Booher’s actions and financial support have contributed to bobwhite quail conservation, including habitat improvements, greater public access, education and advocacy. She is a strong financial supporter and active volunteer of the Southeast North Carolina Chapter of Quail Forever and the South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative. She’s the liaison between the SENC and the Wildlife Commission, and with her assistance the agency created 7,000 acres of “Quail Trails” on Holly Shelter Game Land in Pender County. The trails have improved access to and the management of early succession habitat, which has enhanced small game hunting opportunities and benefited many non-game species.
Booher has overseen efforts to manage a longleaf pine forest through thinning and prescribed burns on over 340 acres of her family’s land. The direct impact of this work has improved both the habitat and the quail population. Leading by example, she has encouraged other private landowners to effectively manage their own property to enhance habitat for bobwhite quail.
G.W. Atkinson, Heather Hill and Jim Hudson of the Wake County Wildlife Club accepted the award on behalf of their 165 members who have worked tirelessly for decades to promote wildlife conservation. As a leader in conservation education, the WCWC has impacted young people who have gone on to pursue careers in the wildlife field and created conservationists with an appreciation for the natural world by highlighting the critical role that sportsmen and women play in the conservation of our wildlife resources.
Best known for hosting the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh, the club’s impacts reach well beyond the annual big game event. Specifically, the club hosts countless workshops aimed at hunter safety, wildlife-associated recreation, education and diversity in hunting. The WCWC is also the primary non-governmental supporter of the Fur, Fish and Game Rendezvous held each year at Millstone 4-H Camp in Ellerbe. The club offers scholarships to send teenagers to this unique weeklong camp. Since 2014, they have sponsored 30 campers each summer.
In addition to monetary support, club members volunteer as instructors to make this camp a success. The club’s efforts provide opportunities for many young adults to attend camp who otherwise may not be exposed to fishing, hunting and shooting sports.
In 2020, club officials updated the forest management plan for their 191-acre Durham County property to include commercial thinning, pre-commercial thinning and prescribed burning. These initiatives will better educate visitors about the importance of habitat management and will also improve habitat for small game on the property.
The Small Game Award is named in honor of Lawrence G. Diedrick of Rocky Mount, who served as a Wildlife Commissioner from 1993-2001. Commissioner Diedrick promoted efforts to address declining populations of bobwhites, and other species dependent on early successional habitat. Subsequent to his death in September 2002, a group of Commissioner Diedrick's friends made memorial contributions to the Wildlife Endowment Fund to support an annual small game award in his honor. The Wildlife Commission created this prestigious award in 2003. Nominations for the 2023 award will open March 1, 2023.
Editor’s note: Since 1947, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has been dedicated to the conservation and sustainability of the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Wildlife Commission is the state regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws and provides programs and opportunities for wildlife-related educational, recreational and sporting activities.
To purchase or renew a fishing, trapping or hunting license and renew a vessel registration, go online at www.ncwildlife.org.