Ryks ABA Game Awards Chairman Bio /April 2021
- I Joined the ABA at the same time I bought my first bow in in April of 1978 from Jack Kempf in Sherwood Park. I was introduced to Jack by my long-time bowhunting friend, Duane Hicks. Meeting Duane turned out to be a life changer for me, as he started me on my path into the bowhunting world.
- I immediately immersed myself in volunteer work with both the Northern Bowhunters Association in Edmonton and the Alberta Bowhunters Association, filling numerous roles and positions until now.
- I took responsibility of the Alberta Bowhunters Association Game Awards program the spring of 1981. The ABA Game Awards would eventually become my sole responsibility with the Alberta Bowhunter’s Association.
- The first ABA Banquet & Convention that I hosted the Awards Presentation was in Calgary March 27th, 1982 at Heritage Park. My highlight of that evening was awarding the first Master Bowhunter Buckle ever presented by the ABA to Dave Coupland. Nobody fought harder than Dave for the Bowhunting Regulations that we enjoy today. All because of his decades of work as the ABA Regulations Chairman.
- From 1991 thru 1997 Dave Coupland, Archie Nesbitt and myself presented bid proposals, on behalf of the ABA, to the Pope & Young Club to host their Convention. For the first and only time in its 60-year history, the Biennial Pope & Young Convention was held outside of the U.S. In April 1997 in Edmonton; thousands of bowhunters from across Canada, the U.S., and even Europe attended the 5-day event. Not only was this a chance to highlight bowhunting in Canada and in Alberta; it brought great attention to our ABA Game Awards Program. Bowhunters from every province and U.S. State gave rave reviews as they wandered through the “ABA Room” featuring all that our ABA Awards Program had to offer. On display were Buckles, Portraits, and many of the biggest and best Big Game animals ever taken In Alberta!
- Since that first banquet in 1982 I have handed out over 1000 plaques, 196 buckles, and 54 Grandmaster Portraits.
- In that time, I have had the privilege of presenting the ABA Awards to recipients the last 40 years. Sadly, with Covid restrictions in 2020 & 2021 we were forced to find alternate ways to get Certificates, Plaques, Buckles & Portraits to the recipients.
- Missing out on presenting the awards in person these last 2 years was extremely disappointing for me. 95% of the work of being the ABA Game Awards Chairman is behind the scenes; processing hundreds of entries, ranking results, ordering the various awards, collecting photos for the presentation, contacting recipients, producing the PowerPoint and on and on. Speaking of the PowerPoint; so much credit goes to Kelly Semple who in 2003 started working with me creating the Awards PowerPoints year after year. Her efforts really raised the quality of this annual event!
- When that pre-banquet ABA Awards work was over; the real fun and reward for me came down to the actual night of the Annual ABA Game Awards Presentation. The highlight year after year for me, is sharing stories, “roasting” likely targets in the crowd, and calling bowhunters up to share their achievement with all of us in attendance. I really missed all of that these last 2 years!
- Thinking back to the presentations over these past 40 years, I have watched literally generations of bowhunters walk up to the podium or seated out in the crowd. I have seen children and twenty somethings of the 80’s and 90’s becoming parents and even grandparent in more recent years. Special times and great memories never to be forgotten!
- Hard to believe I was 27 at the first banquet in Calgary where I passed Dave that first buckle and as I write this now; my 67th Birthday is only months away…