By Lethbridge Herald on January 23, 2024.
A local author is sharing behind-the-scenes stories in the life of an Alberta Fish and Wildlife Officer through his new book titled “Alberta Game Warden behind the badge of 172.”
After retiring from a career as an Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer, Jim Mitchell decided to share his 38 years of experience with the world through 34 short stories.
The stories range from notable enforcement cases, to wildlife encounters, to humour in uniform.
“It was very interesting searching my mind through 38 years’ worth of stories because I had lots of really interesting stories either dealing with bears, wolves, poachers or different situations,” said Mitchell.
In a recent interview with the Herald, Mitchell shared how the book came to be, what inspired him to write it and some of the stories that he hopes many will enjoy.
“I encountered so many very interesting stories dealing with people, dealing with wildlife, dealing with search and rescues and dealing with members of the public, that I would come home or get together at Christmas and I would tell a few stories and people would tell me I should write a book,” said Mitchell.
He said for many years he never even thought about it, but once he retired in 2019 the idea came back to him and he decided he would write the book – for a very special reason.
“I thought I really would like to write a book for my daughter as a family history because a lot of the work involved her,” said Mitchell.
While sharing a picture of his daughter Kaitlyn holding a wolf pup, he explained she was involved in a lot of his work.
In that particular picture, she was holding the pup while others were taking DNA samples.
“The book is more of a dedication to my wife and my daughter about our career because we lived in five different locations and they would always have to move with me throughout the province of Alberta,” said Mitchell.
When asked about who would benefit from reading his book, Mitchell said his original intended audience was outdoors people like hunters and fishermen, but once he received positive comments from “not so outdoorsy people” he realized his book could be enjoyed by everyone.
“I wanted to write the book as a reminder of all the things we experienced, and secondly I wanted to write it so students at the college can get a really good idea of what some of our jobs entail,” said Mitchell.
He said some people, including students, do not realize what the job is actually about, the many different aspects that it deals with, and many have said to him in shock, after reading his book, they did not realize what his job was really about.
“Somebody said to me ‘I thought your job was just driving around and then you’d go and check a person for his fishing license or something like that.
“I had no idea that you dealt with large poaching gangs, and you dealt with people that pulled guns on you, and dangerous grizzly bears.’” said Mitchell.
He said his job was one in which every single day was different, he never encounter the same experience twice and was never bored, and it was the many stories from his everyday life as an Alberta Fish and Wildlife officer that now gave life to his book.
“Never once did I come home and said my day was exactly the same as yesterday,” said Mitchell.
One story is called “Hairy Houdini” in which he shares the story of how a 200-pound black bear pulled what seemed like an impossible escape.
“We set a bear trap. This trap is designed to catch a bear as it comes in and grabs some stuff off a trigger, and when I went to show an exchange student from Brazil that was staying with us, the bear opened the nine inches by 12 inches door and all of a sudden the bear stuck his head out, and then it got it’s shoulder all through that hole, and then grabbed this cable, pulled itself out and then took off running into the bush,” said Mitchell.
He said stories like this one and others included throughout the book, especially in the Humour in Uniform chapter, had him giggling while recalling them to put them on paper and he hopes they bring laughter to those who read them, as well.
“Alberta Game Warden behind the badge of 172” was published in December and it is available at Analog Books and Amazon.