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Warden's Day...
« on: December 10, 2003, 11:15:12 AM »
A friend sent this to me from a regional site that he checks out....

"Hunting the hunters: Game warden's days rarely dull
Associated Press

ENNIS - Not many police officers would be sent to singlehandedly arrest eight people known to be armed.

But that is the world of a game warden during hunting season - when, at any moment, a mundane day can turn into a flurry of activity.

That's exactly what happened to Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Marc Glines on a recent Friday. To Glines, it's just part of the job.

 
"I'm outnumbered, I'm outgunned, and sometimes I'm the only sober one there," Glines said during a morning patrol of the Madison Valley in southwestern Montana. "You really have to evaluate the situation and make sure you don't get into something you can't get out of."

Even in more benign circumstances, game wardens have to break up tense situations. When a late-afternoon call came in reporting shots fired and elk down on a private ranch, Glines was fortunately only about 15 miles up the highway.

The caller, a ranch employee, said a group of hunters on horseback were arguing with ranch hands over whether the elk were shot on public land. Glines arrived to find a half-dozen trucks lining the road with people gawking at the spectacle of the hunters gutting two bull elk. Two other bulls were down as well, one of which was never claimed.

Ranch manager Gene Holden approached Glines brandishing a satellite map of the ranch and proclaiming Glines should throw them all in jail.

Glines glassed the hillside with binoculars, marking the hunters by the color of their cowboy hats, so they could be identified when they reached the parking lot. As the group came up, two of the men pulling bull elk behind their horses, Glines got out the ticket book and started confiscating game.

Until then, the day had been pretty boring. Glines got to shower, eat breakfast, drink some coffee - basic pleasures a game warden often has to skip during hunting season.

"It doesn't always work out that way," he said.

Some days Glines is out well before sunrise, patrolling popular hunting areas or dropping in on hunting camps to check tags. And he keeps extra food and a sleeping bag in his truck, just in case a call turns into an all-night affair.

But few hunters were out and the day was mostly taken up with busy work. After dropping off a trap used to catch a black bear marauding around Ennis, Glines made a trip to Restvedt and Sons Meat Market. The company volunteers its labor to cut up confiscated animals, which end up at the Madison Valley Food Bank, and Glines had an elk he'd earlier confiscated to pick up.

"We're just glad some people are going to eat it," Al Restvedt said. "We hate to see meat go to waste."

Then he paid a visit to a local farmer whose hay bales were being ravaged by deer. FWP has a program that gives fencing to landowners who allow public hunting, and the farmer needed just a few more posts to build the deer fence.

When it comes to game violations, Glines said they generally fall into two categories. The first are those hunters who make honest mistakes and take responsibility for their actions.

The second type of violations, however, are the blatant killers. They're the people who just want to shoot something. They'll take more animals than they can use, or worse, slaughter animals and leave them to rot. Wardens don't call them hunters - they're killers and they're out there every year.

"It's despicable, and it gives hunters a bad name," Glines said. "They have no intention of obeying the law. They're out to get critters and nothing's going to stop them."

Those are the people that Glines said a game warden like busting. He's caught a few already this year.

For example, there was the man who had a mule deer with his son's tag on it, but his son lives in Iowa. The guy claimed he had all the tags laid out on the kitchen table and accidentally grabbed the wrong one. But he had several tags on him, including his daughter's, and each one was in a plastic bag labeled with the name.

Glines later learned that three elk had been slaughtered at the same spot where he busted the hunter. So he set about investigating, trying to see if he had a good case.

Late in the afternoon Glines cut into the confiscated deer's shoulder, looking for a bullet that could be matched to the gun. He didn't find the bullet, but said the case can still be resolved with more investigation.

Game wardens also rely heavily on hunters to turn in poachers. Glines said he catches a few unlucky people and a few really dumb ones, but by and large most cases are cracked from a tip.

"If it was up to me to catch them all red-handed, they wouldn't get caught," he said. "You have to rely on people."

Game wardens have to be competent in investigating crimes. But Glines said just as important is the ability to relate to people.

Despite Glines' imposing physical presence - he's 6-feet-4 and 220-something pounds - he said, like all game wardens, he has to use his head.

"If I go to a hunting camp at night where they have too many elk and they start mouthing off, I'll come back at 6 in the morning when they're sober," he said. "You turn that situation to your favor."

Another fact of life for a game warden, especially in a rural area, is that you sometimes have to ticket people you know. Glines has had to do that several times in his 13 years in Ennis.

"When I write a ticket, I want people to say thank you when I give it to them, because I treat them with dignity," he said.

Those afternoon words turned prophetic when the incident on the ranch erupted. After calming everyone down, Glines explained to the hunters that they were well across the property line and the landowner could have them all ticketed for multiple charges.

Shane Chatrind, a member of the group who was not cited with any violations, said he'd been told by a U.S. Forest Service employee that the hillside was public land. But Glines quickly quelled the back talk. And he got ranch manager Holden to agree to ticket only the two who had elk.

When the tickets were written, Glines got the group to help load the elk into his truck. And, indeed, they all thanked him.

"He seems like a pretty good guy," Chatrind said of Glines."
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