June 30rd, 2003

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

By Game Warden (name withheld)

The recent articles on FAOL about carp reminded me of a story about a Game Warden who handled a case with a lot of carp in it.

This Game Warden was walking a creek bank checking fishing licenses and bag limits when he noticed some telltale signs that indicated that possible illegal activity was taking place at a certain area. The Game Warden continued to patrol the area and began surveillance on the area to see if the violators would return and establish a pattern. The day stretched into night, which brought the Game Warden the cover that he needed to observe the area without being seen. Cover was very sparse and there was only an "L" shaped group of bushes with lots of leaves and trash in the immediate area.

Patience is a big part of a Game Wardens job, so that part of the job began to be fully tested as the night wore on into the wee hours of morning. Eventually, the violators arrived and after looking around, they began to wade out into the water. While two went out into the water, one was on the creek bank with a Coleman lantern. The language being spoken was not one that was not understood by the Game Warden, so he was at a loss as to what was being said, except at times there would be an angry shout and the violator on the bank would immediately hold the lantern up higher so the two violators in the creek could see.

Eventually, the violator going across the creek got to the other side and said something and the violator on the bank went into a flurry of activity. The lantern was put on the ground and the violator started pulling a net onto the bank. The violator on the far bank was holding the net up so it wouldn't snag and tear itself up and the other violator, that was almost half way across the creek was holding it up in the middle. These violators, being of a nationality that is small in stature, really had their hands full because the net was very heavy with fish. And, all the time the constant jabbering and shouting had the Game Warden really paying attention.

As the net came into view, the Game Warden saw numerous amounts of carp, buffalo, drum and some game fish such as catfish, bass and crappie. Of course, that was enough to make a case and the numbers of the fish were duly noted but the Game Warden wanted to make a big case so he kept his presence unknown and continued surveillance until the violators left. Following behind the violators, the Game Warden noted the license number of the vehicle and stashed it away in his memory until he could return to his patrol vehicle and after a quick drive home, the Game Warden fell asleep on his couch.

Some time later, the Game Warden was awakened because of a tremendous desire to scratch his entire body! CHIGGERS!! There is no peace or sleep when one has been invaded by chiggers and has failed to take care of them as he or she should! After several baths with rubbing alcohol and Miss Parsons Household Ammonia, the Game Warden was able to get a little rest. It just so happened that the violators had been watching the Game Wardens house and knew the Game Warden would be off duty the next day and had put the net out to coincide with that time.

WARNING TO WOULD BE VIOLATORS: Game Wardens will work on their days off!!

After a day of scratching and dousing in the aforementioned solutions, the Game Warden began to again formulate his plan to apprehend the violators. Having previously run the license number, the Game Warden knew the violators lived in his neighborhood and would be watching his house. To leave the idea that he was still home, the Game Warden had his wife drive him to where he kept his horses and drop him off and he would go into the area horseback. There was an area about one half mile away from the area where a horse could be tied without it being seen. In fact, it was between the area of the violations and where the violators had parked their pickup.

Some time before the violators were to arrive, the Game Warden went to the "L" shaped area and began to remove the leaves and trash from an area so he could lay there. The Game Warden laid down and covered himself with the leaves and trash and waited again until the violators returned. The violators finally arrived, and being sure the Game Warden was at home, proceeded to build themselves a fire. Of course, as fate would have it, the prevailing winds put the smoke from the fire right into the Game Wardens eyes! Not a real cozy place to start with and smoke in your eyes doesn't help a bit but time passes on and things were happening!

The violators began the trip across the creek and all the jabbering and shouting commenced! The violator in the middle of the creek took a large carp out of the net and threw it to the violator on the bank. The carp was immediately cut three times on each side and placed mouth first on a steel rod that had been driven into the ground, at an angle, at the edge of the fire. A tin can was washed out with creek water and put underneath the carps mouth to catch the juices that came out of the mouth. Keep in mind that this is going on approximately five feet from the Game Wardens face! By this time, the violator has reached the other side and untied the net and the work of hauling the net to the bank began. Much more jabbering and shouting, as the net is extremely heavy, and there is some serious laboring going on!

After a time, the net and the other two violators are back on the bank with the other one and there is much discussion about how full the net is and how heavy the net was and how much work each violator was doing. When their breath is caught, the violators think it is time to eat. They take two big carp out of the net and start filleting them into chunks.

Of course while all this was going on, the carp over by the fire has given up much of its juices to the tin can and it is almost full. The tin can is retrieved and the chunks of raw carp are dipped into the juices and eaten. Now the Game Warden, being of a different culture, was having a hard time, what with the smoke in his eyes, the smells of the carp cooking, the visual picture of the feast and laying in one position for a long time were beginning to have their effect!

But wait, no Game Warden worth his salt would interfere with the ongoing process at this time. The fish were still in the net and had to be removed and he didn't want to spend all night getting fish out of a net. So the Game Warden kept his position and waited till all that was done. That being done, the violators emptied the net bags they had brought firewood in with and began putting fish into the bags. Upon completion of that task, one of the violators decides to come over to the bushes and relieve himself. Now there is just so much a Game Warden can take! The Game Warden immediately stands up, about five feet from the violator, whose mouth falls open, because he is seeing the original Trash Monster in real life! The violator recognizes the Game Warden and immediately in his best broken English says, "You no here!! You at home!! Me see!!

Of course, things began to happen real fast and after a short chase, everyone was handcuffed. Now three o'clock in the morning is just not a good time to get some judges out of bed! However, the Deputy that the Game Warden contacted to get the Judge to the scene persevered and the deed was done. Judges also don't like walking in unknown country at night anymore than the rest of us do, so upon arrival, the scene had been set! The Judges' eyes just about popped out of his head at the sight of all the fish that were on the bank! The combination of these circumstances and the statement that the violators were selling all the fish to a fish market did not help the situation any! The resulting high fine warmed the Game Wardens' heart as it made up for all the times he had gone home empty handed or worked a case for months and got a minimum fine. Of course, the deputy and Game Warden escorted the Judge and violators back to the patrol car and the Game Warden went to pick up his horse.

Now this stallion had been raised by the Game Warden from a foal so the Game Warden couldn't understand the stallions' reaction when the Game Warden appeared. It seems the Game Warden had approached up wind from the stallion and the smells the stallion was smelling weren't anything familiar! It seems that lying in a trash dump with dead and decaying matter of all kinds spread all over you, aren't the best thing for relations with animals. And as the Game Warden would later find out, with wives either! The Game Warden had called the police dispatcher and asked to have his wife called and asked to pick up the Game Warden where she had earlier dropped him off. Upon arrival, and getting into the family car, the Game Warden, who was so very proud of himself, was told to open the trunk and ride back there to the house. Such an inglorious treatment for a champion of wildlife!

What is in a pile of trash and leaves besides the obvious? CHIGGERS! LOTS OF THEM! So after stripping outside at four thirty in the morning, the alcohol and ammonia baths began again! All clothes were left outside and dipped in a solution before being washed inside.

Footnote; The Judge said that in the future there would be no need to awaken him and bring him to the scene because anyone who would go to those lengths to catch a violator had no reason to falsify information! ~ Game Warden


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