A Game Wardens Life

January 30, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

No matter the time of year, a game wardens work never ends

No matter the time of year, a game warden's work never ends

Game wardens should get more credit for the work they do. There’s no two ways about it.

For a short time I was a district game warden for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, so I say this with first-hand knowledge. Even as an outreach biologist I’m still peppered with stories of game wardens.

As a young hunter I can remember the few times I was checked by a game warden. Realistically, most legal hunters and anglers may go years without being checked by a warden. Which stands to reason, as North Dakota has only 34 full-time wardens for something like 100,000 individual resident hunters and more than 125,000 resident anglers. Warden districts average more than 2,000 square miles in size.

Over the course of decades, however, game wardens interact with thousands and thousands of hunters, anglers, trappers and other outdoor participants.

Most of these interactions are positive experiences with the warden verifying that people have the proper licenses, have the proper equipment, and haven’t taken more game or fish than the law allows. It stands to reason, however, that not every interaction will produce a satisfied customer. Sometimes people don’t follow the law. On rare occasions, people might not like the warden’s approach.

I think of the restaurant that has served billions and billions and imagine a few of those billions haven’t been happy with their service. The sad part of reality is that too often the negative gets more attention than the positive, and that’s not fair. A couple recent events give reason for pause.

Retired game warden supervisor Floyd Chrest of Washburn recently passed away at the young age of 65. He’d retired in 2004, and will be remembered as one of the good guys. As I type this I can’t help but think that it’s through “Turbo,” as he was called by some, that I was provided the opportunity to write this, as he was a big reason why I was hired as a game warden by the Game and Fish Department.

A decade ago he administered the field training I was going through, and long after that Floyd remained a source of support and encouragement for me, and also other young wardens as they advanced in their career. Floyd was level-headed and quick with a quip to put what seemed like a dismal situation into perspective. 

Game checks run at all hours of the day

Game checks run at all hours of the day

Floyd’s death is a loss for all, as he served the well being of the resource and all who enjoyed it with a smile and professional ability that can’t be replaced, but can serve as a model for all of us in the conservation field.

Around the same time of Floyd’s passing I learned that current warden James Myhre received an award for saving a life.

Like many other wardens, Myhre lives in rural North Dakota and is more than a game warden. He’s also on the local ambulance squad, a vital service in sparsely populated Kidder County.

Last spring James was on surveillance near Lake Isabel in Kidder County when he observed a situation needing immediate emergency assistance. A man was face down in the water and unresponsive when James quickly radioed for an ambulance and then initiated life-saving measures with the help of the man’s compantions, including CPR and removing water from his airway. 

The man’s life was saved and James recently earned well-deserved accolades from the North Dakota Peace Officers Association, which honored him with a Life Saving Award.

I’m sure actions from wardens in the past have saved lives, and will do the same in the future. It’s a vivid reminder that game wardens do much more for people enjoying the outdoors than checking licenses and bag limits.

A few people take issue with game wardens, and it’s usually those who receive a well-deserved citation. But think of the thousands of people and places that have been the beneficiary of decades and decades of service by game wardens. On behalf of hunters, anglers, trappers, etc., I say thank you


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