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January 12, 2007     Cape Gazette
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January 12, 2007

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54 - CAPE GAZETTE - Friday, January 12 - Monday, January 15, 2007 Bill Welters named businessman of the year Sussex native loves environment, hunting By Demlis Forae C. gazette staff From the time he was a young man, Bill Welter has driven him- self to excellence. When he learned recently that the National Republican Congressional Committee named him 2006 Delaware Businessman of the Year, Welter felt a confir- mation for his life's direction. "Whether it has been training dogs, shooting trap or growing plants for conservation, I've strived to be the best. Awards like this make me feel like I'm on the right track," he said. Welter owns and operates the Owens Station Hunting Preserve, Sporting Clays Range and Dog Training Center located in a rural area of western Sussex County between Ellendale and Greenwood. There, thousands of men, women and children sharpen their shooting skills each year on trap ranges and five different sporting clay ranges that simulate live hunting experiences. In fields and woods reaching over more than 300 acres, Welter also offers man- aged hunting for native white- tailed deer and wild turkeys and released upland game birds including pheasant, quail, chukars, partridges and French red legs. In many cases, hunters work over pointers and retrievers trained by Welter who also raises a variety of breeds. Many owners board their dogs with Wolterwhen they're not being used. Welter feels so strongly about the importance of people having shooting and conservation skills that he turns his preserve over to the Delaware Ducks Unlimited organization in the spring for a tWo-day event focused on conser- vation, education and public safe- ty. "I believe it's the largest such event in this country, possibly the world," said Welter. "It's for chil- Dennis Fomey photo Bill Wolters enjoys every one of the puppies - llke this young Labrador - that he raises and trains for waterfowl and upland game hunting. dren under 16 and we introduce them to wildlife, appreciation for the outdoors and nature, the importance of good management and conservation, and shooting skills." Welter finances the majority of the event which last year hosted more than 2,000 young people from the Delmarva region. "I'm very fortunate to be able to do this financially and to offer our facili- ty for the Ducks Unlimited Green Wing event. I feel it's an invest- ment in our youth. If we don't educate our youth of today in con- servation practices,' there will be no tomorrow." A former Delaware trap shoot- ing champion, Wolter also feels strongly about the fight in this country for people to own guns and know how to use them. "I think it's part of the strength of our nation. I'll never forget the quotation from the Japanese gen- eral who said .he would never advise attacking the United States. He said: 'That would be cry. Everyone in that country has a gun in their house.'" Little is left to chance on Wolter's hunting preserve. Not only does he preachproper con- servation and resource manage- ment, he also grows t. Outside -the hunting preserve clubhouse, where people gather to play cards, trade hunting stories, arrange shooting lessons and sign up for sporting clay competitions, Welter points to a thick, brushy hedgerow. "That's a plant known as lespedeza. It makes great cover for wildlife like songbirds quail and rabbits. I am the fitt- commercial grower and dealer for- that plant." In another area of his preserve, where he trains dogs, he points to rows of wild grasses. '`1 was also the first commercial grower of Atlantic Coastal Panic Grass in Delaware. Now it's used up and down our beaches to stabi- lize the dunes and I ship it all over the country.'" Despite his own efforts at the private level, Welter is discour- aged about the state's efforts at managing public lands. "They're just letting them go instead of managing them for proper wildlife balance. Much more has to be done if we want to sustain and improve nauve stocks of birds like the bobwhite quail, which at one time was a very healthy species in Delaware. More has to be done." Welter is happiest when he's around the puppies he raises and trains and the young people who learn about the outdoors at his pre- serve. "It becomes your life," he said. '`1 remember when I was campaigning with retrievers toward the national championship. I was in it for 25 years. Members of the Chrysler family asked me to train a dog for them. I did and we took that dog on to become national champion in the 1996 competition in Santa Nelly Valley in California. But I was always on the road. Now I'm home. This is where 1 was born and raised and I love it." In presenting the most recent of Wolter's honors, New York Congressman Tom Reynolds said Welters has successfully integrat- ed business and financial success with the support of Republican ideals. "Mr. Wrlter has served as an honorary chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Business Advisory Council and has provided much needed support. This award could not have gone to a more deserving candidate." "Specializing in Luxury Coastal Homes" Michael Kogl', REALTOR Joe Kirk, REALTOR Cell # 302-2:J6-7648 Cell # 302-236-4640 Toll Free: 1-800-462-32224 x499 Toll Free: 1-800-462-3224 x482 Email: rnichael.kogler Email: r  Long and Foster Real Estate Inc. t}  720 Rehoboth Ave. r.ADIG "' Rehoboth Beach, DE. 19971 I,AL ESTAT  Oll'e: (302) 227-2541 C'9--'M-A-N!''"  Fax: (302} 227-8165 www.coastaldelawareg J