A Good Man with a Dog: A Game Warden's 25 Years in the Maine Woods

A Good Man with a Dog: A Game Warden's 25 Years in the Maine Woods

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Overview

A Maine Literary Awards Finalist, A Good Man with a Dog follows a game warden’s adventures from the woods of Maine to the swamps of New Orleans. Follow along as he and his canine companions investigate murder, search for missing persons, and rescue survivors from natural disasters. This is a memoir that reads like a true crime novel.

Roger Guay takes readers into the patient, watchful world of a warden catching poachers and protecting pristine wilderness, and the sometimes CSI-like reconstruction of deer- and moose-poaching scenes. When Guay’s father died in a tragic fishing accident, a kind game warden helped him through the loss. Inspired by this experience, as well as his love of the outdoors, he became a game warden.

Guay searches for lost hunters and hikers. He estimates that over the years, he has pulled more than two hundred bodies out of Maine’s north woods! His frequent companion is a little brown Labrador retriever named Reba, who can find discarded weapons, ejected shells, hidden fish, and missing people.

A Good Man with a Dog explores Guay’s life as he and his canine partners are exposed to terrible events, from tracking down hostile poachers to searching for victims of violent crimes, including a year-long search for the hidden graves of two babies buried by a Massachusetts cult. He witnessed firsthand FEMA’s mismanagement of the post-Katrina cleanup efforts in New Orleans, an experience that left him scarred and disheartened. But he found hope with the support of family and friends, and eventually returned to the woods he knew and loved from the days of his youth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781510704800
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 04/19/2016
Pages: 312
Sales rank: 288,739
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Roger Guay served with the Maine Warden Service from 1986 until his retirement in 2010. He is a K9 master trainer, a certified K9 handler, and certified in cadaver and explosives searches. In addition to decades of search and rescue experience, he has extensive experience in missing persons/homicide searches and body recovery. Guay has received numerous commendations from the warden service; the Maine House of Representatives; the Maine State Police; the Miramichi, New Brunswick, police; and the USPCA. Guay lives in Guilford, Maine.

Kate Clark Flora has published fourteen mystery and true crime books. Her titles include Finding Amy, an Edgar Award nominee, Death Dealer, an Agatha and Anthony finalist and 2015 Public Safety Writers Association Award-winner for Best Non-fiction, Grant You Peace, a Joe Burgess police procedural and winner of the 2015 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction, and the Thea Kozak mysteries. A former Maine assistant attorney general, Kate lives in Harpswell, Maine.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A Loss and the Call to Serve

I didn't set out to become a game warden. When I was a boy growing up in the small Maine town of Jackman, on the Canadian border, hunting and fishing were my primary activities and the woods, streams, and lakes were my playgrounds. Back then, I didn't consider poaching a crime. Nobody I knew did. The game warden was the enemy, and the crime was getting caught.

I still relish all those wild years of running around, doing what I wanted, breaking rules while looking over my shoulder for the game warden. But during my teenage years, two significant things happened that changed my thinking and started me down the road to becoming a warden. Not only did my views of wardens change, my whole way of looking at fish and game changed.

The first thing that was a major influence on my decision to become a warden, something that has stayed with me through all these years, happened while I was in the hospital for a bad ear infection.

There was a gentleman sharing the room with me. He was just a huge man, strong, outdoorsy, muscle from head to toe. I was in there for a couple of days and so we got to talking quite a bit about hunting and fishing and sharing our stories about places we'd been, and things we'd done. What struck me, from his side of the conversation, was how valuable being able to enjoy fish and wildlife was to him. He was a really impressive guy, and he got me thinking about things I'd always taken for granted.

Then, at one point, they came in and closed the curtain. Of course you hear everything through it; it was just a piece of cloth. And what I heard them telling him was that he had cancer and he didn't have much time to live. I remember our conversations, after that, because we had long talks, lying in our beds side-by-side. He wasn't lying there talking to me about how important his work was or how much money he made. He'd just been told he was dying, and what he wanted to reflect on was the value of fish and wildlife in his life, and how important it was that that be available for people in the future. He talked about that moment when his son got his first deer, and about getting his own first deer, about the trips they went on together. For him, that was the value of life more than money or possessions, more than anything.

He was a young man, probably in his early forties. I was a teenager used to taking all that for granted. He really changed my philosophy. For me it was like: Boom! Suddenly I had this new awareness of what was important to that man. Even though hunting and fishing was also an important part of my life, I'd never paid attention to its value before. For the first time, the idea came into me that the special opportunities fishing and hunting can provide had real value and were something worth devoting your life to protect.

* * *

The second event that turned my thinking around was losing my dad in a boating accident. It was just before my eighteenth birthday. He and my Uncle Lawrence, who had come up from Massachusetts, had gone fishing out on Turner Pond. Normally, I would have gone with them, but I'd just bought a new .22 pistol and wanted to try it out. I was out target shooting with it when they drove by and beeped.

When they didn't come home that night, we figured that they'd gotten done late and gone to stay with my Uncle Ernest out in Holeb. We didn't think anything of it until the next morning, when I called my uncle on the radio phone and he said they hadn't come to his house. That's when we knew something was wrong.

I drove out to the pond and found their vehicle parked there with the ropes still hanging off, just the way they'd left it to go fishing. There was no sign of them. It was a beautiful, crystal clear September day. I remember yelling for my dad on the shore and only hearing my echo in return. As I walked the shoreline calling for him, an owl answered me and landed on a limb in front of me. It was a very surreal moment. The leaves were changing and it was beautiful and terrifying at the same time.

It seemed like it took hours for my uncle to get there. When he arrived, he went to the Turner Pond Camps, found a canoe, and picked me up at the landing. We found their overturned Old Town canoe washed up on the opposite shore. When we flipped it over, we found a dead trout and my dad's hat. My uncle, who was a deputy sheriff for Somerset County at the time, went back to Holeb, where there was a radiophone at the mill, and called the sheriff's department and Glen Feeney, the local warden.

At that time, it hadn't been clarified under Maine law that recovery work was under the game warden's jurisdiction, as it is now. It was kind of a "whoever got there first" thing. So the sheriff's department came up with their divers and started dragging the pond, which completely silted up the water. It wasn't until that afternoon that the warden service came and brought their divers and a whole lot more expertise. When the silt settled, they found the anchor, and stuff from the canoe. They recovered my uncle but they couldn't find my dad.

Now, this whole recovery process wasn't a matter of hours. It was a matter of days. As I remember it, they found my uncle on the second day. While this was going on, all we could do was wait. In the absence of facts, we substituted false hope, doing what I now think of as the "maybe this or that happened" drift away from what the facts were telling us.

At the wardens' suggestion, my two brothers-in-law and my cousins, Rene and Joe, and I kept busy searching the woods, searching the woods line and the edges of the pond, thinking that maybe he'd made it to shore and had hypothermia and couldn't move or something. That kept us occupied while they were doing the dive work.

When all this was happening, during those awful and endless days of waiting and watching, I saw a side of the wardens I'd never seen before. I learned that the wardens weren't the enemy after all; they truly cared and were incredibly professional. They gave their all to those days of searching with no complaints or excuses. Our whole family had never seen that side of them before.

In particular, I remember a warden diver named Charlie Davis, who was especially compassionate at that time. Although my uncles were there, and my sisters' husbands, it was Charlie Davis who played the role of father figure for me, which I badly needed at that time. He took the time to let me sit in his truck and explained the whole process, how their search was going to work, what they were doing, and what was coming next.

I can remember my hopeless feeling, especially after those first few days of searching when nothing was coming up and I had more questions than could be answered, and how, during that lengthy search, my sense of time literally stopped. In the midst of that, through his patient explanations and his presence, Charlie Davis became somebody who steadied me. He took the swirl of anxiety I was feeling and brought me back into the present. I didn't necessarily need to sit down and talk to him every five minutes. It was his demeanor — so calm and competent — as much as his words that indicated to me things were under control. After a while, I only needed to see him there — knowing that he cared and had the time for me was enough. We'd built a rapport and I trusted him.

What I learned from Charlie during those days became something I would carry with me into similar events throughout my career. I learned that people in a search situation with a bad likely outcome needed someone affirming and calming to help them focus where they needed to be. The sort of conversation Charlie had with me, which I learned to provide for other people, went like this: Listen, this is what we need to worry about right now. We are going to get divers here. We are going to start the search. We are going to put teams running the shoreline and we are going to concentrate on finding him. That's what we are going to do today.

During that initial phase of the search when they're coming to grips with the idea something really bad has happened and it's not looking like it's going to end well, people will get overwhelmed. Their minds go in many different directions. What about funeral arrangements, or calling people? They're thinking about finances. They're thinking about how they're going to get back home, especially if they're on vacation. They're thinking about how they're going to tell people. Considering what they might have done differently to change the result. All of this stuff just comes rushing in and when they're in the middle of a situation, they can't figure out how to process all of it. They fill their minds so full that they can't focus on the immediate circumstances.

Because I've been there, I understand what people go through during a search, especially during those early hours. From how Charlie dealt with me, I learned that in situations like this we've got to grab them and say STOP. Bring them into the here and now and tell them: You've only got to worry about where you are right now and what needs to be done today. We try to help them ward off all the other stuff that is coming at them and put them in a place where they can sit safely for a minute, and then we let them know we're going to help them work through it step by step. I say: We're not going to deal with that right now. We're going to be here right now, and you need to be here right now. Telling your family — we can help you with that. But you don't need to be grabbing more than you can handle right now.

Once we build that connection with them, just like Charlie did with me, they can see that we're going to help them. We'll get them where they need to be, help them make the calls that need to be made, and walk them through things step by step. We help them see that they don't have to deal with it all at once. And it makes all the difference in the world to them.

The other critical thing the wardens taught me then that made a huge difference in my understanding of them was that they had the expertise to ask the important questions. When the sheriff's department got there, they just went to work dragging the pond. But when the wardens came, they gathered information to help conduct an effective, focused search. One of the things Charlie asked me was where, in that three-hundred-acre pond, my father and my uncle liked to fish. Where were their favorite fishing spots? That helped them focus the search on the area where my dad and uncle were finally found.

It was three days before they finally found my father. Only then did it become real.

One of the hardest things I've ever done in my life was to separate from my uncle after they found my father's body, drive home by myself, and have to tell my mother what had happened. That job was left to me, only seventeen at the time, even though I had several adult relatives involved in the search. My mother was a tough, unemotional person. She had no reaction. She just went silent, leaving me to follow suit and put my own emotions on the shelf. I was at that stage where my dad and I were butting heads over issues like what I wanted to do with my life versus what he wanted me to do. Now everything was just left hanging where there could never be any resolution between us.

I remember my feelings then — half shock and half kinda lost. It was such a surreal thing. One minute he was driving by, honking and waving, and the next, he was gone. Just that quickly and the whole world turned a hundred and eighty degrees. When it happened, my brain's ability to function clearly went away and all these things just came pounding in on top of me and completely overwhelmed me. In those days, my dad worked the night shift at the railroad station and would walk home. My bedroom was near the front door and I would always hear him come in after midnight. After his death, I would still wake up around midnight and listen for him to come through the door.

Now I've been on the other side of that scenario so many times. I bring a lot of my own experience to these situations that lets me understand what people are going through. It took three days to recover him, so I know, firsthand, what it feels like during those days when someone is missing. I've carried that with me on every search I've gone to, and I think it's motivated me, maybe harder than most people, because when I've gone out the door on something, it's been personal to me.

My conversations with the man in the hospital left me with an understanding of how valuable fish and wildlife were in people's lives and the recognition that you can't put a dollar sign on the experience of hunting and fishing. That's what started me in the opposite direction. From my love of the outdoors and from the way I'd grown up, I was kinda going in that direction anyway. Then this man's passion pushed me over. I started taking the whole fish and wildlife protection thing much more seriously, because I was beginning to understand its value. Then those days with the wardens when my father was lost and they were searching for him showed game wardens in a totally new light — both in the way they brought their outdoor knowledge to the search process, and in their compassion and understanding under devastating circumstances. That pushed me even further toward the warden service.

Still, my high school yearbook quote was: Can you imagine Roger Guay being another Glen Feeney? Glen was our local warden. So that transition didn't happen right away.

CHAPTER 2

Deputy Warden and the Academy

Before I was accepted at the academy, I started as a deputy warden, acting as a backup when they needed extra hands. It gave me a taste of things to come and a chance to see whether I really wanted the job.

My first test, as deputy warden, was to issue a summons for dogs roaming at large. The area warden in Lincoln, Norman Moulton, sent me to this lady's house to give her the summons, knowing exactly what would happen because he'd dealt with her many times before. This lady went crazy on me. She started yelling things I'd never heard before in my life. She hadn't showered for two months, she had long, greasy hair, missing teeth, she was smoking, and the reek of the house poured out through the open door. It was horrible. She was a very nasty woman, with nasty dogs, but I issued that summons.

When I got back, Moulton grinned and asked, "How did it go?" I told him all my body parts were intact. And passed the first test.

Another time, during my deputy days, I was involved in a night hunting case that ended up with a high-speed chase going backward down a road. Night hunting is the use of artificial lights for the purpose of hunting wild game, and it's a big deal, from a wildlife protection standpoint, because using those lights paralyzes the game, blinds them so they don't move. You cannot illuminate wildlife from September 1 through December 15. Using the lights, having a loaded firearm in the vehicle, discharging a gun at night, putting out bait to lure deer in to a hunter — they're all crimes. Catching a night hunter, to a warden, is like catching a drunk driver to a cop. Everyone celebrates when they catch their first night hunter.

It was Thanksgiving night, and we'd heard this guy was going to be night hunting, so we set up by the field to wait. Sure enough, it wasn't long before these guys come driving by with a big spotlight out the window. We pulled in behind them and were following them without lights. We had cut-off switches to cut off our brake lights and our running lights. So we came up alongside 'em and Norm Moulton put on the blue lights.

My job was to shine the flashlight into the cab and get into their truck before they could do anything with the gun. To charge someone with the crime, you need lights, a weapon, and ammunition. Often, hunters would run so they'd have time to pitch the bullets out the window, removing one element of intent, and thus moving fast was critical. We came up right beside them, hollered "Wardens!" and told them to stop. Instead of stopping, the guy threw his truck into reverse, so we threw ours into reverse too. Now we were both backing up, side-by-side, and we had to be going thirty-five miles an hour in reverse. Those trucks were just whining. It was slippery. Pretty soon, our bumpers locked, and we all went sliding into the ditch.

I bailed out and rushed up to the passenger side. The passenger was just muckling onto his rifle, trying to get it up so he could unload it. He was doing that because it was illegal to have a loaded gun in your vehicle, and they were running because night hunting carries a minimum mandatory thousand-dollar fine, three days in jail, and loss of the weapon.

When I came around the vehicle, I could see the gun and I could see what he was doing. I can tell the hand motion when someone's loading or unloading a gun. Everything was unfolding lightning fast. I was racing the clock not only so he couldn't get that gun unloaded but so he couldn't use it against me. I popped the door and I grabbed the rifle and snapped it away from him. We got him out and up against the vehicle, and it was a total adrenaline rush like you cannot believe. That was my introduction to the warden's world, and it will be with me forever.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "A Good Man with a Dog"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Roger Guay and Kate Clark Flora.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Co-Author's Note,
Prologue,
Part I: Rookie Years,
1. A Loss and the Call to Serve,
2. Deputy Warden and the Academy,
3. First Patrol,
4. Blowing Things Up and Calming Things Down,
5. Learning Patience and the Long View,
Part II: Protecting Fish and Wildlife,
6. Night Hunting,
7. Have Moose, Will Travel,
8. Famous Fishermen,
9. Whirly Bobbers and Finger Dippers,
10. Blind Owls and Others,
Part III: ON- and Off-Road Traffic Cop,
11. Chasing Those Infernal Machines,
Part Iv: These Are the Big Woods,
12. A World Both Beautiful and Deadly,
13. Matches, Hatchet, and Dryer Lint,
Part V: Training Dogs for Evidence, Search and Rescue, and Cadaver Work,
14. Going to the Dogs,
15. Canine-Style CSI,
16. On the Scent of the Lost,
Part VI: These Woods Are Full of Bodies,
17. The Arm Bone's Connected to the Homicide,
18. Amy and Maria Put Us on the Map,
19. Buried Babies in Baxter State Park,
Part VII: Dangers and Mysteries of the Warden Service,
20. Outlaws, Boat Crashes, and a Wild West Shootout,
21. Banana Man and the Rock Collector,
Part VIII: Katrina, PTSD, and Beyond,
22. Searching for Bodies in New Orleans,
23. New Orleans Again and the FEMA Fiasco,
24. Migraines, PTSD and Beyond,
25. Survivor,

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