None of us really know how many years Dave has been a member of NYSTA, few of us know of the many official positions Dave has held in the association, we have to read back through decades of official NYSTA Meeting Minutes to figure out when and for how long Dave was President of NYSTA and subsequently our Executive Director, the title he still holds today. To many of us, Dave has always been there. But there is one thing that ALL trappers in New York definitely do need to know: There are two reasons why the trapping laws and regulations in New York State are as reasonable as they are today. Unquestionably, Dave Miller and the New York State Trappers Association are those two reasons.
Reading back through old minutes of past NYSTA meetings I've found that Dave was first listed as the Region 8 Director back in 1987. That seems like yesterday to me, but it was nearly 30 years ago! About that same time, Dave is given the position of General Organizer in charge of finding ways of increasing memberships to NYSTA. As if those two positions aren't enough responsibility, Dave is also the NYSTA delegate to the Northeastern United States Trappers Council.
In 1988 the “Padded Trap Committee” is formed and Dave Miller is selected to be on that Committee. Dave and Al West are the only two original committee members that remain on that committee, now known as the JTI (Joint Trapping Initiative) Committee, to this day. That same year, Dave also became Vice President of NYSTA with Al West as President. Late in 1989 Dave succeeds Al as President of NYSTA. His involvement in the politics of the Legislature and his interactions with NYSDEC have been steadily increasing. Progression to the position of Executive Director was naturally inevitable...............and necessary.
I asked Al West to help write this dedication. In his words: Dave succeeded me as President. When Dave started working in Albany for NYSTA he often stayed at Cheryl's and my house. A laid back country boy from Steuben County, Dave soon established himself in Albany with legislators of both parties as well as with the DEC brass. I'm convinced that Dave's laid back manner, his knowledge of trapping, and most of all being a gentleman at all times gained him instant and long lasting mutual respect both in the halls of the Legislative Office Building and at DEC Headquarters. I have walked with him in the halls of the LOB and firsthand witnessed this well-earned and deserved respect from the secretaries and our elected officials. I have also attended numerous meetings with Dave at DEC Headquarters, first at Wolf Road and later at the new downtown Albany building. Without question Dave is very highly regarded and I am completely convinced that if it were not for Dave Miller we would not be enjoying the trapping we do today in New York.
Long before Dave worked for NYSTA he worked as a farrier in Western New York, shoeing horses, and I'm pretty sure he rode in rodeos when he was younger. Dave is a dedicated father to his now grown children Amanda, Rose, and Amos. Now he is the proud grandfather of their children, spending as much time with them as he can. Dave is a devoted Christian and serves as a Deacon of his church.
I have been to Dave's home and am impressed with his love of dogs. However, I was much less impressed with his goats which one time climbed into the cab of my truck and tried to eat mys suitcase and hunting clothes!
There is much to Dave's work, behind the scenes, that most people never see. Running raffles, chairing an FTA Convention, working for houndsmen, establishing beneficial relationships with environmental groups, manning a booth at the Empire Farm Days, working with biologists on the furbearer BMPs, his involvement in the JTI Committee, putting out fires in Albany before we ever see the smoke, developing the NYSTA Spring Conferences, and so many more things. Several years ago Dave was inducted into the elite New York Outdoorsman's Hall of Fame for all he has done for trappers, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Dave Miller and Pat Arnold were close friends. Together they founded CANY, the Conservation Alliance of New York. They also founded together, and with the help of others from NYSTA and the NYSDEC, the New York State Trappers Association’s Pat Arnold Youth Trappers Camps.
A fitting dedication to our commitment to teach and promote ethical trapping skills to our young aspiring trappers. These camps serve as a model for many in other states and Dave continues to mentor at the Camp Rushford NYSTA's Pat Arnold Youth Trappers Camp every year.
Our current NYSTA Recording Secretary Walt Barker has many fond memories of working with Dave. At one time, when they were both divorced, they shared a residence and Walt submitted the following:
Some fond memories of Early Days with Dave.
My day of acquaintance with Dave Miller goes back to about 1973. At that point my (then) wife Linda and I were getting into the retriever trials pretty heavy. Dave and I hit it off being that we were both trappers as well.
Well a few years went by, I was now single, and running dogs in Texas and thinking about moving back to N.Y. This was about 1980. Dave and I came up with this plan whereby I would come back, move into the "Trapper Commune", an old farm in Byron, NY where Dave and friends were living and set up dog training operations and trapping ventures. We had great fun with all that, with some super dogs turned out, tons of fur and game taken, and I learned how to "beef up" some pretty skinny pigs and cook some really tuff roosters! Those were the days and I will say this for sure: Don't ever try to play hide and seek with a Jersey bull in a pasture unless you have a nice deep creek bottom leading under the fence!
Walt stated there were some pictures of those days floating around somewhere, but lucky for Dave, we weren't able to find any of them.
Dave is a humble, generous gentleman. Graciously giving of his time and self to serve his family, his friends, his church, and the trappers and houndsmen of New York and beyond. His dedication to his family, his church, and to us is undeniable. It has been my personal pleasure to work closely with Dave and to learn from him while doing so. I echo Al's statements that we would not be enjoying the trapping we do today, here in New York, if it weren't for Dave Miller's efforts on our behalf both in the halls of the LOB and at DEC Headquarters. I have seen him at work and those words are true. Being as modest and humble a man as he is, Dave has accomplished more than most trappers will ever be aware of. Dave does not “toot his own horn”. He just quietly, respectfully, graciously fights the good fight for us every day of his life. When you see Dave this weekend here at the Fall NYSTA Convention, shake his hand and remember to say “Thank You for all you've done for us!”.
Thank you Dave!
John Rockwood, President New York State Trappers Association