I remember that my Dad Earl Dudley became a Nevada State Game Warden in
1948 and seemed to work the entire northern half of Nevada based out of Elko. Back then things were a little different and it was not unusual for Dad to take his two sons along on his patrols, they were 6 and 7. We learned to fish, hunt, trap, use a bow and arrow, camp out, and had every type of pet one could think of. All communication was via telephone, land line, if they happened to be working. We had a crank telephone that would be on a party line, and if someone called, everyone on the net could listen in. Your phone would be two shorts and a long ring or whatever unique sequence you had. I recall Dad asking people to hang up as when there were too many listening in you could not hear.
I would go out with my Dad for four or five days at a time; we ate from a wooden footlocker he called his “grub box” and it held the worst combination of canned food one could imagine. My Dad was known among his peers as “gut robbing Dudley” as he could go days without food. Dad’s idea of a gourmet meal was a can of vienna sausages and a V8 juice. Many times we would be out in the hills and encounter a sheep camp with the Basque sheep herders who lived in a wagon; you could always smell the garlic long before you saw the camp and whatever they were cooking smelled so good. Dad would not accept an invitation for lunch because he didn’t like sheep or garlic. We went hungry.
A trip with Dad just wasn’t the same if we didn’t get stuck; not just stuck but buried up to the top of the fenders, in soft mud, swamp, river bottoms, snow drifts and washed out roads — it was not a successful trip. Several times we actually rolled over and tipped the pickup back, filled with oil and took off.
I remember staying up half the night if Dad thought someone was night hunting or spot lighting as it was called then and this would always take place when it was about 10 degrees outside. We could not run the heater in the truck as we never had extra gasoline. The vehicles provided by the Fish and Game were very basic, always remember the lowest bidder.
One time I went out with Dad and he decided Utah hunters were hunting deer in Nevada along the border. I was probably twelve at the time. We drove until the road ended and then took horses and rode deep into Utah in the Goose Creek area then circled back into Nevada. We encountered about 8 Utah hunters and we were about four miles from our vehicle. My Dad collected the guns told me to hang onto them and herded this motley crew to our vehicle and drove them to Montello to the Justice of the Peace. We are about 14 hours into the day. The JP operated out of his house and the hunters believed they were in the Twilight Zone, if there had been one then. All were fined $50.00, rifes confiscated and were told they could find their way back to Utah. It was a good day in Dad’s eyes.
One trip resulted in a broken axle and a rear end ring gear and pinion gear broken. Dad walked to a ranch several miles away, called his buddy in Elko and had the parts flown by Piper Cub and air dropped. Dad performed the repair in the ditch we were stuck in. Another time he found some miners who were killing deer and eating off the land. There were five of them and three of us – Dad, my brother and I about 13 at the time. One of these wild miners came out of shack putting a round in a pump shotgun yelling he was going to shoot Dad. My old man grabbed one of those guys by throat and used him as a shield and drew his weapon on the guy with the shot gun. Meantime my brother had a deer rifle across the hood of the truck and informed the bad guy he would be first. That was a little tense; all went to jail in Mountain City.
One more good story I remember like it was yesterday. My Dad had been transferred to Las Vegas and the patrol area included Lake Mead. This was about 1963 and it was starting to be a very popular recreation area. Dad suggested we go out in his 18 foot wooden boat with Merc 35, not the fastest rig on the water. We went from the lower basin toward the Overton Arm and not bothering to check the weather we thought it looked a little like rain. Well after about an hour the weather became, to say the least, dangerous. There were five to ten foot waves and 60 knot winds. We were trying to turn back when the boat engine quit. We could not start the motor and were drifting about 40MPH toward the beach. When we hit the beach we were stranded in about the most remote area of Lake Mead north shore. I figured it couldn’t be too bad as we had a lunch and there was plenty of water to drink. I dug out our lunch and found Dad had put it next to the fuel tank and gas had sloshed onto the chow. It was a very long night; the storm broke about 4AM and the sun came up in about two hours. We could see a couple of light planes searching the distant parts of the lake. We did not know at the time several people had drowned in the lake during the storm. We saw boats several miles out in the lake but they could not see us. Dad fired his pistol several times, no good. No flares, no signal panes, no mirror. We had about decided to walk out and this would have been about 25 miles through the desert. We saw a boat about three miles out in the lake turn toward us and accelerate. In about 10 minutes, a Coast Guard CPO and his crew found us. They had seen my Dads badge flashing in the sunlight. The CPO informed us that a major search was under way for us and they had notified my Mom and brother things were looking pretty grim given the loss of several people. Anyway we got home and the only thing that really concerned my old man was why the motor quit.
It had a broken wire to the distributor.
Just a few stories of the fond memories of Growing up With a Game Warden.