Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Game Warden Files--More GSL

Late in my career when I had taken a position with the Marine and Off-Road Enforcement team, I often still got to work in my old home sector doing boat patrol on the Great Sacandaga.

One Memorial Day weekend I was was working the lake with Jeff Hovey and we checked a family fishing on a bass boat.  The husband had a license, as did his his wife and their son didn't need one, so all was OK on that; but the youngster needed to have a life jacket on as he was underage. That's when an attitude started to show.  If they'd had a suitable life jacket, he could have put it on and all would be OK; but they didn't have the mandatory one per person, let alone one in a suitable size for the child. We gave them enough flotation devices to cover everyone and directed them to head for their point of launch, which was the state campground at Northampton Beach. As we were having our discussion, the fisherman tossed a cigarette butt into the water with one of those "what are you going to do about THAT" motions. Jeff very calmly asked why he'd done that and the guy responded "NOW YOU'RE PUSHING IT!"  I looked him squarely in the eye and said "No, now YOU'RE pushing it."  He plucked the butt out of the water and, without much further conversation, we headed to the dock.

As we rounded Sinclair Point, our boaters took off on a straight line for the campground.  That straight line took them through an area that was known as Rock City or Stump City.  It was one of those places that uncovered when the water was low, and this year the water was low for late May.  A lighter than usual snow pack and scare spring rains had not brought the water up to its normal early year levels.  Apparently our boater didn't understand that and headed full bore across a pretty hazardous part of the lake.  Jeff looked at me and very rightly said that he wasn't taking his boat through there.  As I laughed in agreement, a gust of wind took my ball cap off my head and into the water.  As we circled back to get the hat, we lost track of the boat and when we located it again, it was moving very slowly along the shoreline of one of the islands in Rock City.  We could see the operator, now standing on the bow, operating the boat on the trolling motor.  Hmmm, what could have happened?

We watched as our now crippled violator boat slowly made its way to the launch.  During the trip, we could watch the body language change and slowly things changed on the boat.  His wife joined him on the bow and their son was closer to them like they were all talking.   When we arrived at the launch to issue the tickets and retrieve our life jackets, our boater was a changed man.  No more bad attitude, just an apology for being a jerk.  We had a bit more class than to have a look at his propeller--now likely badly damaged on the rocks; so we got back into our boat and headed back to the lake.

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