A Run In With Mamma Nature’s Right Hand Man, DNR NRP

Outdoors — February 10, 2015 at 1:46 pm by

When it comes to the woods and waters, it is the men and women in Green and Brown that take the place of the Boys in Blue. Maryland’s Natural Resources Police are the cops of the outdoors. I’ve met up with them several times this year, and this last encounter (although not much different from any other in my experience) has prompted me to say what I feel about these Natural Resources “Police”.

But to understand the enforcers, we first need to understand a bit about where their authority comes from. Keeping tabs on Momma Nature in my home state is a job lead by Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). What exactly is The Department of Natural Resources? Well, their Mission Statement is pretty simple…

The Department of Natural Resources leads Maryland in securing a sustainable future for our environment, society, and economy by preserving, protecting, restoring, and enhancing the State’s natural resources.


That all sounds good, but it is quite encompassing and so are the tasks taken on by the Department of Natural Resources. Like the mission statement said, they are the leaders when it comes to Maryland’s environment and management of the natural resources within Maryland. The research and amount of work it takes to, not only manage, but to sustain, our natural resources is far more than what I could scribe here. The DNR are the hands-on, in the field men and women, who enforce the laws that are in place in regards to hunting, fishing, crabbing, use of state waters, and use of state parks.  A selected few of these men and women are granted the power to regulate and enforce these laws, as well as make sure you are legally within them.  It’s a big job.

Believe me, they are a visual presence. Here’s a little breakdown of my evening and how my hunt ended.

I’m omitting the names, the location, and some minor details of this incident. They are irrelevant to the situation and how things proceeded and concluded. The same could happen to any hunter, anywhere. Our interaction with DNR started when the hunt ended. I had invited two friends of mine to join me at a property that I have Legal permission to hunt on, to try and catch the evening flight and put some geese on the ground. We were well over the legal distance required from an occupied structure, as required by law. We ended our goose hunt within legal shooting time and began to gather up the decoys. Not a minute after sunset, in rolled the man. I saw him pull in, I saw the emblem on the side of his truck, and I knew why he was there. As I approached the truck, the Ranger stepped out and approached me. He asked my name, which I gave him, and I respectfully asked for his. He asked me a few questions about the evening’s hunt as we made our way into the field and spread of decoys where my two friends still remained. I answered his questions both honestly and respectfully. He asked what we had killed and checked to see if we were within legal possession limits, and we were. He asked if our weapons were legal, to which we answered, “Yes Sir,” but he still checked to see if we had the proper plugs in them, which we did. Then he individually checked our licenses to make sure we had all of our stamps and had legal permission from the land owner. Which again, we were legal. But still, he didn’t leave.

After proving we were legal, responsible hunters, this Ranger, This Police Officer for the Department of Natural Resources, did something that might surprise you. He bullshitted with us. He talked with us a bit as we cleaned up and carried our gear from the field. We talked about a few hotspots and we talked about how other local guys were doing. We talked about the game activity we’ve been noticing with the changing weather and how it’s influenced game habits and patterns. We talked about the passion that brought us to this common ground in the first place. (Most of these men and women are hunters as well.)

Never once was he pressing, rude, or overstepping of his authority. We were LEGAL, HONEST, RESPECTFUL Hunters. Do you understand the previous key words?? Legal. Honest. Respectful. Pretty fucking simple. If you’re legal, DNR probably isn’t going to fuck with you.  (You probably shouldn’t say fuck either. Unfortunately, come to think of it, I probably did say fuck in my exchanges with DNR. I’m actually pretty sure I did, in fact. I say fuck a lot, but I didn’t say fuck about him, about what he was doing, nor use the word towards him in a disrespectful manor. I spoke to him as I would any other man who was doing his job well.

We had a fairly pleasant run in with “The Man”- as it most often has been.  DNR deal with Illegal, Dishonest, and Disrespectful people often. And most DNR recognize Legit, Legal Hunters. And most DNR respect their position of authority. Now…I did say, “Most”. I have seen officers that look like exploded croissant cans in a green button up who they didn’t wear the uniform with the same pride and respect as this Ranger did on this particular evening. I have had Rangers show up at very inopportune times and disrupt the hunt; not roll in when the hunt is over as this Ranger did. There are Rangers that bark orders and don’t ask questions. I’ve heard stories about Rangers that try to nail hunters with everything in the book and I’ve heard about Rangers who try to manipulate shit to write up a fine, one way or the other. There are some DNR that do abuse their power and authority- some are plain assholes. But I honestly believe that these power tripping Rangers are a rarity, and that negative experiences are just the experiences most often spoke of.

The point of sharing this experience, is this- most of the men and women of the DNR aren’t there to ruin your hunt. They are there to make sure you’re doing things in a way that is consistent with the guidelines so OUR resources can be monitored and managed. I have shared a goose pit with a few Rangers and have volunteered for some local management efforts (None of which shared commonality with the Ranger I ran into hunting this season).

The bottom line is this, without monitoring and management there would be nothing left to hunt or fish for. Be Legal. Be Honest. Be Respectful. Let them do their job and they will usually let you get back to the hunt.

Oh, and as far as “Be Honest. Be Respectful,” that’s good advice for interacting with ANYONE. Don’t lie and don’t be a dick. Pretty simple. Let’s make common sense and common courtesy common again.

via TheModernAssassins

A video posted by @the_modern_assassins on

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