110 – Ethan Justinger (Utah) and Chris Gilkey (Ohio) talk NAWEOA

After a short summer break, Warden’s Watch picks things up with a look back at NAWEOA 2023 with Ohio Wildlife Officer Chris Gilkey, and Utah’s Ethan Justinger. Now called the International Game Warden Association, this year’s conference was held in beautiful Provo, Utah in early July, with a jam-packed schedule of activities that included a wide variety of training, speakers, and fun for the whole family.  

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Game wardens watch – but it’s rough on binoculars
  • The value of conferences
  • “Everybody is on the same page.”
  • Utah conference provided activities for the entire family
  • What is VirTra training?
  • “All it takes is one” visit to NAWEOA
  • Awards are a humbling experience
  • Youth Room kept kids safe and entertained
  • Speakers were both interesting and inspirational
  • Keynote speaker Brody Young
  • Mindfulness training with Jeff Jones
  • “You are not alone.”
  • Scenarios can be recreated, but there’s no substitute for sharing lived experience
  • Bill Livezey, author of Let’s Go For A Ride
  • Tracking migration patterns through collaring
  • * Apache touch and go interlude *
  • K9 training demonstration
  • The annual Torch Run supporting the North American Game Warden Museum
  • Mickey Mouse pancakes
  • Game Warden skills competition; antler toss, fish drop, trivia, and fun
  • The ‘Warden Spawn’ youth team
  • NAWEOA 2023 in one word
  • Train hard, play hard, work hard
  • See you next year in British Columbia, Canada!

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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North Woods Throwdown – with Eric Fluette & Kris MacCabe

It’s that time of year again and game wardens from Maine and New Hampshire are ready to hit the field in Portland, Maine on July 28th for the fourth annual North Woods Throwdown softball game! We’re joined by New Hampshire’s Eric Fluette and Kris MacCabe of Maine, taking a look back at previous games, and unveiling an exciting new streaming option so fans can tune in from anywhere and support Operation Game Thief. Come join the fun in person if you can, or grab your streaming ticket here!

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Idea for a fundraising softball game started in Maine
  • Every game so far has been a squeaker
  • Fans shook the stadium!
  • Game bats are made in Maine
  • A ‘friendly’ rivalry
  • Extra, extra, extra innings
  • Stadium wanted to turn the lights off!
  • Streaming option will allow fans to tune in from anywhere
  • Dugout interviews and multiple cameras
  • Every kid’s dream to play in a stadium
  • Did wardens get paid for North Woods Law? (Hint: No.)
  • New Hampshire fans and giant head cutouts
  • Maine looking to tie the series
  • “We’re gonna need a bigger plaque.”

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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109 Michigan DNR History with Sgt. Mark Papineau

In this episode, we meet Michigan DNR Sgt. Mark Papineau. His official role as Technology Sergeant sees him researching new technology options, implementing software and equipment, and training Law Enforcement Division personnel – but he is also MiDNR’s foremost in-house historian, teaching recruits more than 100 years of the DNR’s storied history. Take a walk through time with Warden’s Watch and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources!

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Michigan DNR began as a commission to protect and maintain fish stocks
  • First Michigan game warden appointed in 1887: attorney William Alden Smith
  • Reportedly the first salaried game warden in the nation
  • Smith went on to enter US Senate and chaired hearings into the Titanic disaster
  • His report resulted in major changes to maritime safety laws still in effect today
  • Early game wardens were paid by counties – some refused to pay
  • 1893 amendment to Game Warden Act allowed officers to seize equipment
  • Game warden history can read like a Hollywood action movie script!
  • Stetsons and bloused boots
  • Citizens often submitted poaching and wildlife complaints by mail
  • The evolution of the uniform
  • Early laws weren’t consistent between states
  • Some early officers’ names are still recognized and respected today
  • Chase Osborn’s vision to preserve MI forests
  • The Great Depression saw the division reduced to 95 officers
  • Field Administration Division combined many divisions and increased numbers
  • Poof – you’re a CO!
  • Illegal market venison in the late 1800s
  • 3000 miles of nets
  • DNR state seal
  • COs issued pistols in 1939 after officer deaths
  • Records have been lost through the years

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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108 Katie Gervasi with Cpt. Jen Wolf – Michigan DNR Part I

Katie Gervasi is the Communications Representative for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division, and has the significant task of telling the stories COs are often too humble to tell themselves. Whether it’s crafting press releases and news items, maintaining the Department’s web presence, or shooting photos on ride-alongs, she shines a light on the important work of COs across the state. We are also pleased to welcome back one of our very first guests, Captain Jen Wolf.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Katie’s role at DNR
  • Communication is one of a CO’s most important skills
  • The diversity of Michigan’s resources
  • Supporting Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger
  • Patrolling the Great Lakes
  • Extensive water safety training
  • Other jurisdictions have reached out to receive training
  • Always something to do in Michigan
  • Clear water – how far down can you see?
  • Every season brings a whole new world
  • Shining a positive light on wildlife law enforcement

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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107 Randy Nelson – British Columbia

Randy Nelson is a retired 35-year veteran of Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), where he became the most decorated fisheries officer in the history of British Columbia. Two years after leaving his post as director of the DFO’s Conservation and Protection Branch in BC, he was ready to write about his extraordinary and sometimes life-threatening experiences, resulting in Poachers, Polluters and Politics: A Fishery Officer’s Career. Now he joins us to discuss his second release, The Wildest Hunt – a collection of tales ranging from horrifying to hilarious from hundreds of wildlife officers across North America.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Writing the book was like doing several investigations
  • Growing up in Saskatchewan
  • Started running to help train
  • Foot chases became common – poachers run!
  • Book features at least one story from every state, province and territory
  • Spoke to hundreds of officers to learn as much detail as possible
  • Oklahoma: Busted on Bumble
  • Alberta: When your hunting dog is a little too good
  • First book was more biographical
  • The Wildest Hunt was written to shine a light on domestic poaching and encourage involvement
  • People often think of poaching in terms of large African animals
  • “If you see something, say something”
  • What is cactus poaching?
  • 75x more police officers than game wardens in North America
  • Ethical hunters are the best conservationists
  • A poacher is not a hunter
  • Poachers are often involved in other crimes
  • Operation Thunderstorm
  • Game wardens have a far higher chance of dying on the job than other law enforcement
  • Biologists, game wardens, and management need to work together
  • The economic impact and long-term effects of poaching
  • A portion of the profits from The Wildest Hunt will be donated to the Game Warden Museum
  • First book was never intended to be published
  • Every officer has stories
  • A picnic gone wrong…
  • Always ready to address stakeholder groups: contact Randy
  • One voice can make a difference

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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106 For the Fallen: WCO David Grove – Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Wildlife Conservation Officer David Grove was known for his infectious smile, his deep faith, and his professionalism and commitment to the people and wildlife of his home state. On a quiet Veterans Day evening in 2010, Officer Grove was arresting a poacher when the suspect – a convicted felon – pulled a gun from his waistband and began firing. Despite having been shot, Officer Grove continued to return fire until he was fatally struck. He was 31 years old. Retired PGC Deputy Executive Director Thomas Grohol shares his memories of the incident, the aftermath, and the continuing legacy of an exemplary officer.

“It is not how these officers died that made them heroes; it is how they lived.” ~ National Law Enforcement Memorial, Washington, DC

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Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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105 David Brady – Florida Fish and Wildlife

While patrolling the Florida Panhandle in August 2015, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer David Brady suddenly found himself in the fight of his life; what had seemed a routine stop quickly became an open-water gun battle. Shot twice, weighed down by equipment and treading water with a deflated life jacket, he continued to return fire until the would-be murderer – himself shot – finally sped away. Officer Brady joined us at NAWEOA to share his riveting story of survival, resolve, and preparedness.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • 17-year FWC veteran; Dive Team, Special Operations Group
  • Nothing is ever routine
  • Every encounter is different
  • Call was originally a disturbance complaint
  • Two ‘kids’ on a sailboat
  • Officer noticed alcohol and expired registration
  • Shooter went into the cabin to retrieve paperwork
  • Emerged from the cabin with a gun
  • Leapt off the boat as gunshots rang out
  • First shot passed through Brady’s shoulder – and life jacket
  • “He was hunting me.”
  • Returned fire from behind the patrol boat’s engines
  • Shooter jumped onto patrol boat, still shooting
  • Swimming, shooting, and reloading in full gear
  • Shooter then tried repeatedly to run over Brady
  • Brady continued firing, hitting shooter in the hand
  • Left for dead
  • A nearby Coast Guard vessel approaches
  • “I’ve been shot, and they stole my boat.”
  • The importance of dispatchers
  • Shooter and partner were arrested less than two hours later
  • News spread quickly on social media
  • Reunited with family at the hospital
  • Kevlar vest and training made the difference
  • Train to win
  • Kevlar vests are now mandatory to wear
  • “I’m still here.”
  • It only takes one time

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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102 David Holt – Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency

With almost 27 million acres across the state, the officers of Tennessee’s Wildlife Resources Agency have a lot of ground to cover. Any given day could include fish and wildlife law enforcement, safety checks, search and rescue on land or water, conducting outreach programs, and more. Join us as we sit down at NAWEOA with Boating Enforcement Officer David Holt, who’s been patrolling the waterways of eastern Tennessee since 2017, and has some stories to tell!

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Live from NAWEOA
  • Delayed honeymoon for hunting season
  • A mysterious message from the water company
  • Unplanned home renovations
  • The path to becoming a game warden
  • The rookie
  • A wild stolen yacht chase
  • The thief tried to create swells to sink the patrol boat
  • Apprehended when the yacht ran aground
  • Chase was filmed by a drone pilot
  • Patrol boat looked like a dot next to the giant yacht
  • “Designated Skipper”

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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101 Audrey Hunter – Arkansas Game & Fish

Audrey Hunter grew up in a home where hunting is a family affair. Through her father, grandfather, and uncles, she and her and four brothers were taught to respect the resources, the impact of conservation, and the importance of sharing the outdoors. This led to a natural career with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, where after only five short years she’s proven herself an outstanding officer – and now she has the hardware to back it up! Join us as Wayne sits down with the first female to win the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Officer of the Year award, AGFC Wildlife Officer 1st Class Audrey Hunter!

Our Sponsors:

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“A Cowboy in the Woods” Book

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Winning NWTF Officer of the Year at the national conference – surprise!
  • Drove home with trophy in the front seat
  • Focused on illegal bait sites
  • A memorable baiting case; educating the next generation
  • Violator had multiple bait sites
  • Hunting and wildlife is a family tradition
  • Experience has taught patience
  • Tough cases can be the most rewarding
  • The pros and cons of patrolling in your hometown
  • Getting involved in the local chapter of NWTF
  • What’s a Jakes Day?
  • The diversity of Arkansas wildlife
  • Surprising a field full of baiters

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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100 CJ Box – Joe Pickett Series

CJ Box is the New York Times bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the enormously popular Joe Pickett series, now a small-screen sensation streaming on Paramount Plus. An avid outdoorsman, the Wyoming native’s hit novels capture the vast, unspoiled beauty of the American West, the conflict between new and old ideas, and feature authentically believable (and sometimes heinous) characters, lightning-quick plots, and truly gruesome crimes. We are thrilled to welcome CJ to the show for a chat about the inspiration for Joe Pickett’s character, two successful TV shows, and much more!

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“A Cowboy in the Woods” Book

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • 100th episode introduction – thank you!
  • Game wardens are all collectively Joe Pickett
  • Making Joe as authentic as possible
  • The inspiration for the first Pickett novel – the Endangered Species Act
  • Never intended to be a series
  • Wanted to introduce the element of family
  • Game wardens can be called on for any number of situations
  • Local wardens are integral to a rural community
  • Joe Pickett show runners are fans of the book series
  • Second season incorporates parts of three books
  • Wasn’t the first offer for a Pickett-inspired television series
  • A peek at Season Two
  • The show was an immediate success on Paramount Plus
  • Filming in Alberta, Canada
  • Capturing the family dynamic has helped broaden the audience
  • Making sure Joe wasn’t perfect; “he screws up.”
  • Joe’s character has grown and changed, but he still can’t shoot
  • Finding experts on every topic to seek different points of view
  • Joe arrests the governor – based on a true story!
  • Tackling socially relevant and contemporary issues
  • Consulting with game wardens to ensure accuracy

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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