Thursday, March 29, 2018

Game Warden Ride-Along

I'm a bit slow getting to this blog post.

On a cold snowy day, I had the privilege of riding along with a Oregon Fish and Wildlife State Trooper in Wallowa County, Oregon.

When I first contacted the trooper, he'd suggested we might go down on the Imnaha River and check the fishermen catching steelhead. When I arrived for the ride along a call had come in about trespassers on an elk refuge in the northern part of the county. So we headed north.
Weneha River

Once we left the highway the roads were bumpy, snowy, and muddy. The trooper explained that an area owned by the ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) and used to feed elk to keep them from getting into the ranchers stack yards and ruining stacks of hay was off limits to the public at this time of year to keep the elk from leaving the leaving the area.
Elk feeding on the refuge

It was the best time for "shed" hunters to be out. Shed hunting is when people go out looking for the antlers the deer and elk shed this time of year. Shed hunters go out looking for the shed antlers to either keep for themselves or to sell to people who make things out of them. Because the large herds of elk stay in the refuge, the antler hunters will trespass to find the larger antlers.
Elk feeding on the refuge

We didn't find anyone trespassing. But the trooper wrote down the make, model, and license plate of any vehicle that was parked as if they were out looking for antlers. When we arrived at an area where he had satellite reception, he put that information into his computer to see if any past trespasses or violations came up on the owners of the vehicles.
3 female mountain sheep with tracking collars
From the elk refuge we headed to the Wallowa River and the trooper wore a microphone so I could hear his conversations with the fishermen as he asked them for fishing licenses, steelhead tags, and those with boats for their invasive species permit.  I learned the language of the items asked for and had a fun time listening to his banter with the people.
Along the Wallowa River
The 8 hours I spent with the trooper I learned a lot about the job, the nuances that could keep a trooper safe in certain situations, and I heard stories about situations that became out of hand.

It was an enlightening and informative day. I've already started incorporating the information I gleaned into the first book of the new Gabriel Hawk mystery series coming out in 2019.


Diana McCollum said...

I love the pictures! What an interesting day you had. Was it hard to line up someone to go with?

Paty Jager said...

Hi Diana!
It was a fun day! No, I didn't have any trouble because the trooper went through State Police training with my son-in-law and rented from my dad. So I kind of had an in. ;)