92 Col. Joel Wilkinson (Ret.) – Maine – Part I

Joel Wilkinson spent 28 years serving the state of Maine, including twelve years as Colonel of the Maine Warden Service. Now retired, Col. Wilkinson sits down with Wayne to reflect on an extraordinary career that began when he was just a teen. In this episode, we discuss his early years as a game warden, including an intense turn in covert operations that resulted in some of the agency’s most significant prosecutions of the time.

Our Sponsors:

Thin Green Line Podcast

Don Noyes Chevrolet

Sovereign Sportsman Solutions

“A Cowboy in the Woods” Book

Hunt of a Lifetime

Maine’s Operation Game Thief

Wildlife Heritage Foundation of NH

International Wildlife Crimestoppers

Here’s what we discuss:

  • Maine has used the term ‘game warden’ since 1880
  • No time to hunt or fish.
  • Learned about the outdoors from a girlfriend’s father
  • Started riding with game wardens at 16
  • Became a deputy warden at 19
  • Tried to sneak in a little early
  • “This is all I wanted to do.”
  • 2000 applicants, few positions
  • Tried appealing to the Colonel
  • Joined a local police department to gain experience
  • Trained with many Maine wardens at the academy
  • Finally hired by Maine Warden Service at 22
  • No warden in his area for 11 years
  • Caught first night hunter eight days after graduating
  • Moving to a new area, population: 4
  • Chris Simmons becomes the boss… and moves in across the road
  • A memorable Thanksgiving night
  • Shifting into covert investigations
  • A big case, but some unnerving moments
  • Targets often under the influence of alcohol and drugs
  • Seeing the other side
  • “It changed how we did business.”
  • Making Captain at 32
  • Learned many administrative skills
  • The Maine whitewater rafting industry
  • Many companies offer rafting, hiking, and rock climbing


Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches


Apple Podcasts








Find More Here:


Warden’s Watch / TGL Store


Facebook Fan Page





Leave a Reply