Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Game Warden Files--"One Boy's Pretty Good...

...two boys ain't much good and three boys is no good 'tal!"  That was the saying from my grandfather, passed down to my father and then to me.  I've seen it proven out countless times; but one case really showed it clearly. 

I'd stopped by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office one winter afternoon and was having a chat with one of the deputies when he took a call.  After a few minutes it was apparent that the call was going to come to me, and not be a quick one, so I got ready to take some notes.  Notes turned out to be not enough and I ended up at the home of a very upset mother, taking a statement that would end up being about five pages long. 

Though the statement gave me lots of information, there were few actionable facts carried within it.  We can safely say that there was a bunch of boys--young men really--running amok.  The only thing I had to make a case on was that they had shot a deer, out of season, with a .22 rimfire rifle, only injuring it; then chased it down and stabbed it to death.  This made them so happy that they did it again a couple days later. 

I had two things going for me when I started doing the investigation:  Most of the boys involved were all trying to get into the Marine Corp and I knew the father of one of the boys; he would bring his son to me--dragging him if necessary. 

My interview with the young man didn't go all that well as he lied to me, and gave me an inaccurate written statement.  When I took his father outside and explained what a false written statement meant, he went back inside and had a chat with his son.  He then asked me to go take a better statement.  That one was more like the truth. 

Before I went any further, I called the Marine recruiter and asked him--hypothetically, of course--what would happen to a prospect who was charged with some serious game violations. Of course, no one could enter the Corp with criminal charges hanging over his head, and a criminal conviction would destroy the chance of a career in the Marines.  In the course of our conversation, he told me that he had a small school in which almost every boy in the senior class was planning to enter the Marine Corp.  He was a dismayed sergeant when I called him the next day and asked him to help me clear up the matter with nearly all the boys from that senior class.  He made a couple phone calls and we set up a series of interviews with the boys. They couldn't wait to get their tickets, get them settled and then settle matters with their recruiter.

Before I started meeting with the boys, I had an arrangement set up with my captain who was a colonel in the NY Army National Guard.  She understood the situation the boys were in and agreed to settle them administratively--something rarely done with fish and wildlife cases--so that they could continue with their military plans.  I ended up charging five of the boys, if I recall correctly. We settled the matter quite quickly for penalties ranging from $200 to $500 dollars each, and I lost track of it after that. 

Several months later, my wife and I were having dinner at a local pizza shop when a familiar looking lady approached me. I soon recognized that she was the mother of one of my characters and stepmother of another one. She quietly placed two pictures on the table in front of me and said "I thought you'd like to know that they came out all right."  They were graduation pictures from Marine Corps boot camp. They had made it. I'd like to think that all the young men have now grown out of their nonsense and have been equally successful.

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