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Canadian County game warden reflects past and love for wildlife

By Matt Montgomery

Canadian County Game Warden Joey Rushing has been around wildlife his entire life, allowing him to garner a love of the outdoors from an early age.

Rushing started out fishing and didn’t start hunting until he was a teenager.

It wasn’t until he met Kingfisher County Game Warden Jack Witt in 1996 that he developed a love for the trade.

“I was farming in the summer, and he was a game warden and I just always thought that was the coolest thing, what he did,” Rushing said. “Dover is a small town and he knew my grandpa. When I was a farmer, he came by and introduced himself then he (Witt) started taking me noodling and we used to noodle on the Cimarron River.”

Rushing said he always wanted to be a farmer but didn’t have a farm. He said he also wanted to do something outside and be in law enforcement so that match up inspired him to want to be a game warden, so he acquired information from Witt on how to become one.

“I started asking him (Witt) questions on where to get a degree and how to do it,” Rushing said. “Before you know it, that’s how I learned to do it.”

Rushing graduated from Edmond North High School in 1999, then went to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater and earned a Bachelor of Science in wildlife and fisheries ecology.

Even though Rushing took classes on his career in a higher education setting, he said he learned more on-the-job information from his mentor, Witt.

“You learn more about how to do the job from the game warden,” he said. “You get all of the knowledge from going to college about the species and management and all that good stuff. You’ve got to have the knowledge, because people call on you for biology questions, and you are the guy they call, so you have to be able to answer the questions right.”

Rushing officially became a game warden in 2009 in Caddo County then moved into his position in Oklahoma and Canadian County as a rover. When his partner passed away in 2011, he took over Canadian County full time.
Rushing now lives in Yukon and said he loves working in Canadian County.

He said the difference in Caddo County and Canadian County is the difference in species. There are far less species in Canadian County than Caddo County.

“Canadian County has a lot more people because Oklahoma City starts to merge into the county,” he said. “It’s a different animal because you’re dealing with a different set of problems. People start to merge out and the wildlife starts to get pushed out to, and before you know it, you’ve got coyotes in your backyard and you have to deal with different obstacles.”

Rushing said there is no typical day for a game warden, every day is different.

He said he’s got to look for trespassers and other variables and said the job revolves around seasons.

Whether he’s checking for fishermen’s licenses, waterfowl permits, plugs in shotguns for quail and dove season or spot lighters and poachers at night for deer season.

He said there’s never a dull moment in the life of a game warden.

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