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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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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99 Susan Swem – Missouri K9 Unit

After more than 30 years on the job, Corporal Susan Swem was contemplating retirement from the Missouri Department of Conservation – and then came the chance to join the state’s newly formed Canine Protection Unit. Since then, she and K9 Astro have assisted on multiple investigations, done significant public outreach, and saved countless staff-hours tracking, recovering evidence, and protecting the wildlife of Southwest Missouri.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Joined the newly formed Canine Protection Unit two years ago
  • Missouri program is adding four more handlers
  • K9 program has been beneficial in multiple ways
  • Job changes with the seasons
  • Changing areas or specialties can create a completely new challenge
  • Considered retirement before joining the K9 unit
  • Being a K9 handler requires constant training
  • Pros and cons of being a female Conservation Agent
  • More women are becoming game wardens
  • Crappie fishing techniques
  • What is a paddlefish?
  • Eggs are similar to caviar
  • An illegal egg sales case
  • Training involves a lot of running!
  • Tracking with a K9 saves considerable time
  • Different breeds have different advantages
  • Technology is making fishing and hunting easier. Is it sustainable?
  • Missouri geography and weather
  • The job is like chocolate cake; a K9 is the frosting

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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98 Bob Vashaw (Ret.) – New Hampshire

Before dive teams, rescues using locator beacons, and OHRV and snowmobile enforcement, the job of a New Hampshire game warden was very different than it is today. Often left very much to their own devices, officers were primarily responsible for observing and reporting local conditions and activities, protecting and managing wildlife, and of course, stopping poachers. Join us for a walk through history with retired New Hampshire CO Bob Vashaw!

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Stories of game wardens past
  • Began working in 1965
  • Grinding mussels on the seacoast
  • Search & Rescue before cell phones
  • A game warden is shot
  • Teaching hunter safety courses
  • A shot through the window
  • Backpacking into the wilderness to stock ponds
  • The snow revolution
  • Fish & Game duties have evolved
  • “We were one big family”
  • Loose dogs were a huge problem
  • Cutting cedar trees for deer feed
  • A daily diary
  • No overtime pay
  • Joining the first state dive team
  • Looking through a memory book
  • “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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97 Brock Hoyt – Georgia

Despite having been a member of the Georgia DNR for just five years, Game Warden First Class Brock Hoyt is already a standout officer. The recipient of both the 2022 NAWEOA Torch Award and the 2022 Georgia Game Warden of the Year, he’s also been recognized as Game Warden of the Year by International Wildlife Crimestoppers.  We caught up for a quick chat with this rising star back in July at NAWEOA – join us!

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • NAWEOA Torch Award
  • Combining passion for both law enforcement and the outdoors
  • A law enforcement family
  • Influenced by North Woods Law
  • Covering the Atlanta area
  • Always something different
  • Forming relationships within the court system makes a difference
  • Diversion program helps offenders not become repeat offenders
  • Raising the profile of Georgia game wardens
  • Promoting the brand
  • Game wardens do it all

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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95 Kevin Behr – Ohio: Shot By A Poacher

Five days before Christmas 2020, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Officer Kevin Behr was shot from behind while investigating a poaching operation.  Nearly two years and 15 surgeries later, he shares his remarkable story of survival, courage, and determination.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Incident occurred on the final day of deer gun season
  • Information about a chronic poacher operating in the area
  • Poacher had previously served prison time
  • Setting up a decoy in a rural area
  • Shooter was less than fifty feet away
  • Shot from behind with a 20-gauge slug
  • You feel being shot before you hear it
  • Reverted to training: communicate, move, shoot
  • Hit the emergency button on portable radio
  • Legs wouldn’t work
  • Goal was to stay alive until someone arrived
  • Felt like molten steel
  • Shattered pelvis, multiple organs damaged
  • Shock wave travelled through the skull
  • “Bring more combat gauze.”
  • Concerns about potential ambush
  • New goal: stay alive until EMTs arrived
  • In and out of consciousness
  • New goal: stay alive until landing at the hospital
  • Accept the fact that you have been shot
  • Use those few seconds to focus on training – and act
  • Requested the level one trauma centre
  • Milliseconds count
  • Shooter had a thermal scope – what did he see?
  • Offered no aid. Threw gun and ran.
  • Potentially more homicides in this felon’s future
  • Some light moments on a dark day
  • 28 days in ICU
  • Fifteen surgeries to date
  • The long road back
  • Your mindset matters
  • Most internal organs were damaged
  • Nobody gets a free pass from PTSD
  • Learning new limits
  • Making gains all the time
  • Spinning a positive from a negative
  • Training, tactics, and experience will get you through
  • Shooter sentenced to a total of nearly 15 years

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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94 Wild Tech – with Steve Beltran & Eric Richey

Steve Beltran is an award-winning Conservation Police Officer with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources who combines his passion for both technology and the outdoors through his Timber-Tech column, a regular feature in International Game Warden Magazine. Eric Richey is the founder and CEO of Sovereign Sportsman Solutions (S3), an industry leader in customized electronic license and permitting innovations throughout North America. Join us as they discuss recent outdoor technology developments, and some exciting possibilities for the future.   

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • “Probably the largest, most unknown tech company in the industry”
  • Systems are built and branded to the specific state’s requirements
  • Mobile platforms allow officers access to real-time information
  • S3 developed the first mobile solution for conservation officers
  • Technology has typically been marketed to large law enforcement agencies
  • Access to data in the field increases efficiency – no need to go to the office for info
  • QR codes allow access even when offline
  • RFID advancements could allow coastal officers to gather all license info from a nearby vessel without having to board
  • Tech and the outdoors don’t need to be mutually exclusive
  • Electronic data can allow officers to quickly get a complete picture
  • Potential for faster access to license revocations under the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact
  • Each state currently uses its own format
  • A standardized system could identify violators on the spot
  • Violations in one state can result in different restrictions in different states
  • Timber-Tech column helps bridge the technical gap
  • Taking the tech into the field to determine exact needs
  • Why not use every tool that we have?

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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93 Col. Joel Wilkinson (Ret.) – Maine – Part II

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 swift rise through the ranks, a television show that almost wasn’t, the challenges and rewards the outdoors can provide, and some valuable lessons learned along the way.

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Captain to Colonel
  • Remembering Maj. Gregg Sanborn
  • Choosing quality leaders
  • Every day was an education
  • We all started in the same place
  • Empowering people through Operation Game Thief (OGT)
  • The wall of shame
  • Fundraising to offer larger rewards
  • International Wildlife Crimestoppers provided fresh ideas
  • The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact
  • OGT trailers manned at all times; “we have to tell the stories.”
  • Blazing the North Woods Law trail
  • Turned down the original request
  • What are our fears? What are our goals?
  • It had to be authentic without being disrespectful
  • A gentlemen’s agreement
  • Popularity brought some unexpected situations
  • Ending the Maine story in the best way possible
  • Didn’t want to be seen as making money
  • The diversity educated the public
  • Inspiring kids to become game wardens
  • Passing the torch to New Hampshire
  • The North Woods Throwdown
  • Back Woods Law?!?
  • Bluefin tuna fishing takes more than skill
  • You have to do a lot of little things right
  • It’s all about respect for the animal
  • Confidence comes with experience
  • Plan to be successful
  • The abundance mentality
  • Life after retirement

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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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.

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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

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Research / Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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91 Sean Spencer – Utah

Sean Spencer is a Sergeant with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. After 14 years patrolling in some of the most remote and most populous areas of the Beehive State, he’s dealt with a wide variety of people, wildlife, and problems. In this episode from the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association conference (NAWEOA) in Tennessee, he and our hosts discuss planning for next year’s conference, some of his memorable experiences, and much more!

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Busy organizing NAWEOA 2023
  • Plan extra time to see the state
  • The “Mighty Five” national parks
  • First encounter with a game warden
  • Discovered the outdoors as a teen in Texas
  • Importance of balancing home and work life
  • Moving from a remote district to an urban one
  • Prime hunting only 30 minutes from home
  • Public safety vs. preservation
  • A memorable baiting case
  • Not every case results in a conviction
  • Growing population numbers create new challenges

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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90 Josh Landrum – Tennessee

Josh Landrum is a Nashville-based Boating Officer with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. Besides receiving multiple honors for his tireless efforts to combat impaired boating, he has also served on the board of the Tennessee Wildlife Officers Association for the past decade, and most recently as president. This year, Josh and his fellow officers hosted the annual North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association (NAWEOA) conference, where Wayne and John caught up with him for a chat.  

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Here’s what we discuss:

  • Hosting NAWEOA 2022
  • Learning, training, and networking at NAWEOA
  • Encouraging the younger generation of game wardens to attend
  • A love of fishing led to a career in wildlife management
  • An urban game warden
  • Some of the largest deer in the state
  • Working to eliminate impaired boating
  • You never know who you’ll meet
  • Enjoying all that Nashville has to offer
  • NAWEOA 2023: Utah

Credits

Hosts: Wayne Saunders and John Nores

Producer: Jay Ammann

Art & Design: Ashley Hannett

Content Coordinator: Stacey DesRoches

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