New York State Trappers Association
2018 Convention Honoree

Willard “Bill” E. Smith

As the 2018 Convention celebrates NYSTA’s 80th year.  There have been many people who have helped bring us to this achievement.  The Executive Board, the Board of Directors, County Representatives, and our Membership are pleased to induct Bill Smith as our Convention Honoree for our milestone event.   Bill came to us from Region 3 where he was the President of the Ulster County Trappers, was the Region 3 Director and served as a three term President of NYSTA.  Bill was an avid outdoorsman and he advocated for sportsman and women.  He spent many hours in Albany. Actively involved in his advocating role during Governor George Pataki years in office.  Trapping wasn’t his only passion.  Bill was also a Zone Representative for the NY Houndsmen Association. Past President of the Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Ulster County.  He taught Trapper Education and served on various Sportsmen’s Committees. He spent many hours afield, hunting, trapping and fished. Having caught some record sized trout in NY. 

Bill in high school was an athlete where his passion in baseball and softball developed.  He was a veteran of the Korean War where he served as a tank driver, mechanic and pitched ball during his time with United States Army. Upon his discharge, Bill and brother Robert owned and operated the Napanoch Service Center or locally known as the Smith Brothers for many years.  He then became a three term Superintendent of Highways for the Town of Wawarsing.  He was a founding member of the Ellenville Twilight Softball League, a member of the Ellenville Fast Pitch League and a sponsor of the Smith Brother’s Fast Pitch softball team. A team that earned themselves a spot in several NYS championship games.  

Bill passed in January of 2016 after a battle with Alzheimer’s. His dedication and successes during his tenure is of one that must not be forgotten. Here are some testimonies from some of his friends:

“My first introduction to Willard “Bill” Smith was shortly after I became a Wildlife Biologist in Region 3.  I attended the Ulster County Trappers monthly meeting which was held in Bill’s basement. Packed in with 20 or so other trappers I introduced myself to the President of Ulster County Trappers.  “Never met a Smith I didn’t like. Hope it stays that way.” was his response. Bill was a true gentleman that really cared about sportsmen and women along with the wildlife and fish resources.  Bill excelled when issues got heated between different factions of sportsmen or between the sportsmen and the department, never letting it get personal and preventing others from making it so.  He always would bring things back around to common ground everyone could agree on.  As a Wildlife Biologist I learned a tremendous amount from Willard including the importance of interacting with hunters and trappers on a regular and consistent basis.  I have yet to meet a truer champion for hunting and trapping. I’m pretty sure Bill left this world still not having met a Smith he didn’t like.”

Scott Smith NYS DEC Region 8 Wildlife Biologist

Bill worked tirelessly for NYSTA and all sportsmen groups. He especially had a warm spot for kids and vigorously promoted youth participation in the outdoor sports.  He was always on the forefront of statewide legislation both for and against our rights and heritage as trappers, hunters and fisherman.  He was a straight shooter with his words.  He always had a smile and often joked and genuinely loved people.  I met Bill when I was 15 years old and at 54.  He is still one of my boyhood hero’s!!  Willard “Bill” Smith was one of a kind and all who knew him I believe were blessed to have shared in his life!!

A friend who wished to remain anonymous so the focus is on Bill.


Such and common name for an uncommon man.

  • Deer Hunter, Bear Hunter, Duck Hunter, Fisherman, Trapper, Ball Player, and a long list of sportsmen that goes on and on.

  • In fact I never told him that until his last year. He just smiled and said he would not have it any other way.

  • Of the many Bill Smith stories, 2 of them stand out.

  • Upon my return from the Navy, I went back to work at the DEC New Paltz Office.

  • I was given the responsibility of the Fisher Reintroduction program.
    (Fisher was lost during the tanning industry, many years ago.)

  • The 1975 Bond Act included the reintroduction of the fisher to the Catskill Region.

  • At the next trappers meeting, Bill asked “What do we have to do to get a Fisher season?”

  • The answer to that was we had to be able to prove that the Fisher were being born again in the Catskills.

  • At 5:10 am on the second day of the trapping season I got a call at home. All that Bill said was “Got one Dickie”.

  • We managed to squeeze the Fisher into a Havahart trap, and ripped down some 1x2 boards and      anesthetized the fisher to handle it.

  • By tooth analysis that Fisher was 2 years old.

  • As such we were able to implement an experimental season for the next year; with a bag limit of 1.

  • Within a short time, the bag limit was extended the next year, and Fisher continued to increase.

  • Suffice to say, Fisher are present today because of Bill Smith, Tom Zeider, and the Ulster County Trappers.

  • In the 1990’s bears were moving into the lower New York from New Jersey, and became a problem.

  • Short on staff that summer, Bill volunteered to help me out with the increasing number of bears that were headed north from NJ.

  • We handled a number of way-word bears from NJ that year.

  • Wayward bears were released into the heart of the Catskill.

  • At release time, I get ready to raise the Culvert trap door, and Bill gets ready to shoot loads of Rubber Buckshot at the bears.

  • I couldn’t help but notice that he loaded all five rounds of rubber buck shot, and I asked if he really thought he could get all the rounds off? His response was “of course”.

  • What followed was an amazing display of rapid shooting. All five rounds of rubber buckshot were over in about 3 seconds. I never seen a man rack a shotgun that fast and accurate.

  • We did a number of other bears that summer, and it was a joy and pleasure to work with Bill.

  • During the time when I lived in Wyoming, the locals had a name for their very best hunters; they were called “Legends of the Fall”

  • Bill Smith was a Man among Men and Sportsmen’s Sportsman.

  • By all standards, He is in fact, a true Legend of the Fall.

Dick Henry NYS DEC Region 3 Big Game Biologist (Retired)

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