The Wily Game Warden

Story of the Day for Wednesday January 4, 2012

The Wily Game Warden

                 The sound of a rustling leaf will cause them to run, and even when no one is chasing them they will flee as though from a sword . . . They will stumble even though no one is pursuing them. 

                                                                                  Leviticus 26:36-37

 Before we lived in Montana, we would drive out west on vacation to my in-laws ranch. After a weary 1200 miles, we observed the happy little ritual of stopping at the last town to buy our fishing licenses. We always bought an annual out-of-state license – expensive, but worth it to enjoy heaping plates of fresh brook trout.

One year, we tumbled into town so late that all the stores were closed. We drove up to my wife’s parent’s ranch and walked through the trees to their house by moonlight.

Buckhorn Ranch is the last ranch up the mountain, and so you don’t drive into town every time you need one item. We discussed driving into town later that day, and then we would be able to buy our fishing licenses. But my wife and I were so anxious to catch some fish, and because we knew in our hearts that we were going to buy our fishing licenses later that day, we didn’t see any harm in re-honing our technique on the creek.

Pinkham Creek is a fairly remote, heavily wooded mountain valley. That is one reason we were totally unprepared for what happened next.

“Do you hear something?” my wife asked.

“Yeah.” It sounded liked an old John Deere tractor with a fouled spark plug.

And then we saw it. It was a helicopter flying low right up the creek bottom. This was not a small, commercial sight-seeing helicopter, but a big, olive-green military chopper.

“Hide!” I shouted to my wife. We darted behind some trees as the chopper roared over our heads. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I thought a Montana game warden had come up with an ingenious way to catch people who were fishing without a license.

We scooted back to the house and I asked my mother-in-law about it. She said the area was so remote some found it a safe place to grow marijuana. The military was combing the area because they have special equipment to spot marijuana plots.


As I reflected on it later, I realized how silly my fears were. What? Would the game warden really hire out a military aircraft to patrol remote mountain streams on the unlikely chance he might spot a fisherman?

I imagined him spotting us, ordering the pilot to hover in place while he scrambled down a rope ladder. With a couple of soldiers pointing machine guns at us to prevent us from fleeing, he would stride up to us in his sunglasses, and say, “Good morning. Nice day for fishing. May I see your licenses please?”

As I say, the whole notion is ludicrous. But, when you have a guilty conscience, fear balloons out of proportion to reality, and makes you think stupid.


If you’ve already blown it, Jesus can cleanse your conscience, (although helicopters may make you nervous for years afterward.) But, if you’re still considering your options, buying a fishing license first is definitely the way to go.

                                    (copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)