Game Wardens – the Good and the Bad

I’ve known many great game wardens in my life and career. I have also encountered a few that were nasty and mean. Here are two of my stories.

When our son Josh was eight years old, we were fishing a brook along Baxter Park’s Perimeter Road. When we were done, we hiked up to the road and started walking towards our vehicle, when I heard Josh say, “Dad, I see a man hiding behind a tree up in the woods.”

I stepped back toward Josh and looked up into the woods and sure enough, there was a Maine game warden behind the tree. I waved at him and suggested he come on out which he did.

He walked up to us, never said hello, pointed at my creel, and said, “Show me your creel.”

We had kept no fish so it was a quick check of my creel which he handed back to me.

Then he pointed at Josh’s wrap-around belt and said, “Show me that.” So I told Josh to unfasten his      belt and hand it to the warden, which he did. The warden unzipped the belt, looked inside each pocket, and threw it on the ground.

Then he turned and started walking up the road, without saying anything else to us. I offered to give him a ride up to his vehicle but he just kept walking.

I was not pleased with the way he had treated my young son, so when I got home, I went into the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s commissioner’s office and complained about the warden. The commissioner told me not to worry, that the guy was going to retire in another month.

So I guess he spent a career of treating people poorly and made it all away to retirement.

The next year while we were up to camp, I took Josh up to the East branch of the Penobscot River to fish just below the Mattagamon Lake dam. As lunchtime approached, I walked along the shore, across the bridge and into the store at the campground to get lunch.

As I exited the store with our lunch, I looked across the river and down over the hill came two game wardens headed right towards Josh. “Oh no,” I thought. “Here we go again.”

Well, those wardens were so nice to Josh. They visited with him and even showed him where the various pools of fish were in that section of river. When I got back to them, they had a nice visit with me.

And when I got home, I wrote the commissioner a letter praising those two wardens. And ever since I’ve hoped that those are the wardens Josh remembers.


George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.