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A night to thank Maine’s game wardens

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For years now, the Bucks Mills Rod & Gun Club near Bucksport has put on a sumptuous prime rib dinner for Maine Game Wardens, active or retired. It’s quite a hoedown. The wardens get to eat for free. It is the club’s way of showing its appreciation for the hard work and personal sacrifice that is part of the professional lot of most career game wardens.

These warden nights are always a special time for Diane and me, not only because we like to eat, but because of the high regard and affection we hold for these dedicated men and women who took an oath to protect Maine’s fish and wildlife resources.

The high point of the night, at least for me, is when the wardens express their thanks to the club and then follow up with personal stories and anecdotes. Some are amusing; some are hilarious; and some are sad and poignant.

And if you look closely beneath the surface, as is my nature and obligation as a writer, there is something else going on. Some common threads. I see focused, committed, and caring people not too full of themselves. The wardens you see at these dinners know that they are among friends, sportsmen and women who believe in them and who try to obey the game and fish laws. The wardens say as much and, to the listeners benefit, these wardens are willing to let their guard down, relax, and share stories and wonderful fellowship among themselves as they take their turns at the microphone.

During his turn, Warden Lt. Dan Scott punctuated his remarks by lauding the Bucks Mills club, not only for the great chow, but for, as he said, “being part of the solution, not the problem,” when it comes to preservation of the resource and looking after Maine’s fabled hunting and fishing heritage.

Warden Sergeant Alan Gillis, who was recently named Warden of the Year, told those gathered how much he enjoyed the night. “It is so good to be among folks who still stand, remove their hats, and say the Pledge of Allegiance. I still get goose bumps. It should be done in more places!”

A most poignant moment was when retired Greenville Game Warden and K-9 handler Roger Guay answered questions about his first book, “A Good Man with a Dog.” Over the years, Guay and his dog Reba recovered a lot of people, some alive and some dead. In response to a direct question, the retired warden revealed that years of this does take its emotional toll on a man. His toughest and most dangerous assignment was recovering bodies in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. “I did crash and burn. There was damage. It’s all in the book,” he said.

The Bucks Mill Club is not alone in feting game wardens. A number of other rod and gun clubs around Maine put on similar events.

As District Warden Dave Georgia quipped to the crowd, “I never miss a warden’s night anywhere in Maine. I guess I’m like a bear at a bird feeder.”
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The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books.Online purchase information is available at www.maineoutdoorpublications.com.

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